Home Page Chess Life Magazine 2014 Grandmaster Annotations of the US Amateur
|Grandmaster Annotations of the US Amateur|
|By Onischuk & Chandra|
|February 23, 2014|
"Quest to GM" offers thoughts on a key
battle vs. the victorious Princeton squad. For more information on this popular National event, see Al Lawrence's wrap-up on the USATE and the US Chess Scoop video.
GM Alexander Onischuk annotates a game from the US Amateur Team East while
young IM Akshat Chandra of|
This year’s top-rated player at the US Amateur Team East was former U.S. champ and recent World Team silver-medalist Alex Onischuk, head coach of Texas Tech University’s chess program. He annotates a victory over IM Yaacov Norowitz.
Queen’s Gambit Declined
GM Alex Onischuk (2749), “Texas Tech Chess”
IM Yaacov Norowitz (2571), “Team Dacha”
U.S. Amateur Team-East Championship
(Comments by GM Onischuk)
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7
Sometimes I play this move order myself. The idea is to avoid the Exchange Variation (3...Nf6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5).
4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 Ne4 7.Bxe7 Qxe7 8.Rc1 0–0 9.e3 Nxc3 10.Rxc3 c6 11.Bd3 Nd7 12.Qc2 dxc4 13.Bxc4 b6 14.Bd3 c5 15.Bh7+
So far, it is all theory. The purpose of my last move is to force his king to a worse position.
15...Kh8 16.Be4 Rb8 17.0–0 e5
Surprisingly, I can’t find that this natural move has ever been played before. During the game I considered two moves here, … e5 and … Bb7: 17...Bb7 18.Bxb7 Rxb7 19.dxc5!? Nxc5 20.b4 Na6 21.a3+/=.
Probably my best move in the tournament. This move is prophylactic against … exd, and it also prepares Bc6.
This move creates even more weaknesses
19.Bc6 Bb7 20.Bxb7
20.Bxd7? Bxf3 21.gxf3 exd4!
20...Rxb7 21.Qe4 Rc7 22.dxe5 f5
Probably the final mistake. 22...Re8 was necessary; I was going to play 23.e6 Nf6 (23...Qxe6 24.Qf4) 24.Qh4 Kg7 25.exf7 Qxf7 26.Qa4, with a big advantage.
23.Qf4 g5 24.Qg3 Rc6 25.Rd3 Re6 26.Red1 Nxe5 27.Nxe5 Rxe5 28.Rd7 Qf6 29.Rxa7 Rfe8 30.h3
30...R8e7 31.Rdd7 f4 32.exf4 Re1+ 33.Kh2 Rxd7 34.Rxd7 gxf4 35.Qf3 1–0
Black resigned. He is losing at least another pawn.
(Transposing to the Symmetrical English, Reversed Botvinnik System)
Michael Lee (2445), “Princeton A”
IM Akshat Chandra (2426), “What Does the GM Say?”
U.S. Amateur Team-East Championship
(Comments by IM Chandra)
Going into the final round, there were two teams on 5–0, our team and Princeton A. If we won the match, we'd be the winners, but if we drew, Princeton A would win on tiebreak. So in a way, Princeton had "draw odds." On Board 1, I faced Michael Lee. I was just coming off a miraculous draw against GM Magesh in the previous round, so momentum was on my side.
1.e4 c5 2.c4
A really surprising move. He's transposing into an English (1.c4), which is what he usually plays, but this particular line allows Black to equalize immediately.
2...Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 e6
I wanted to keep my g7 bishop's diagonal open, to keep the pressure on d4. There are several setups which Black can adopt. One of them is to play 5...d6, followed by Nf6–0–0–Ne8,-Nc7,-Ne6.
6.Nge2 Nge7 7.0–0 0–0 8.d3 a6
… with the idea of playing b5.
I vaguely knew 9...b5 to be the best move but hesitated on playing it, since I couldn't remember the correct line for Black.
Generally, White should not take on d4. This particular situation is no exception. 10.b4 is in my opinion White's best move, taking advantage of my last move. I would probably have continued with 10...cxb4 11.Rxb4 Nec6, but White holds a comfortable advantage after 12.Rb1 d6 13.Nxd4 Nxd4 14.Be3.
10...cxd4 11.Ne2 d6 12.Bd2
I think White should have expanded on the queenside with 12.b4, with the aim of neutralizing my queenside counter-play.
The correct plan. While this opens my c8-bishop, it does shut in my g7 bishop, although it wasn't really seeing much light with my pawn on d4 anyway.
The start of a wrong plan. I don't like this idea at all. (13.b4 can be met by 13...b5.)
By exchanging the dark-square bishops, he rids me of my pitiful g7-bishop, and gives himself a bad bishop on g2.
I considered playing 14...Bxh6 15.Qxh6 and then 15...Qa5, but I didn't feel comfortable with his queen lurking near my king.
15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.b3 Qa5
The idea of this move is not to threaten the a2-pawn, but to prepare … bxc4 followed by … Rab8, in case he recaptures with the b-pawn.
17.f4 f6 18.f5 Bf7
Of course, the Exchange sac requires consideration after 18...gxf5 19.exf5 Nxf5 20.Bxa8 Rxa8 21.Qe1 Qxe1 22.Rfxe1 Ne3, but with a solid positional plus, I didn't see the need to go for this.
While this recapture weakens the f5-square, it is practically impossible for White to use it to his advantage. (After 19...hxg6, I was concerned about 20.g4.)
20.g4 bxc4 21.dxc4
If 21.bxc4, I had planned 21...Rab8 and thought I was doing fine here. But accuracy is required:
A. 22.Rxb8 Rxb8 23.Ng3 (23.g5 f5µ) 23...Qc3 24.Qd1, when I would have to find 24...Ng8!, which I believe diffuses White's threats. I can now play freely on the queen-side, without any risk of losing.
B. If White immediately plays 22.Ng3, then I have 22...h6 preventing g5.]
White is pinning his hopes on a kingside assault, but it's just an illusion. I'm a healthy pawn up now.
Attacking the pawn on b3, and getting the rook out of the line of fire, in case he plays Nf5… Bxf5,exf5.
Protecting b3, and threatening Ra1 to trap my queen.
White should not be the one to force matters! Instead, 24.h4! h6 25.Ra1 Qb6 26.Kh2 was White's best chance, since it maintains the tension. In order to win, I would have to force matters, making some concession or the other in the process, which White should seek to exploit.
24...Bxf5 25.gxf5 Kh8
Now my king is completely safe, and the g-file is open for my rooks to sweep.
Giving additional protection to h7, and preparing to swing the b8-rook to g8.
This was premature. Instead, 27...Qb4!, preventing b4 and keeping the queen at an active post. Only then should I play Rg8.
White needed to play 28.b4, exploiting the disadvantage of my last move. Of course, I'm still better after 28...Qb6 29.c5 Qc6, but White would have counter-play.
28...Qb6 29.Qe1 Nc6 30.Qh4 Rg5 31.Rg3 Rxg3 32.hxg3 a5 33.Bf3
A good practical try, but it loses on the spot.
Missing 33...Qxb3 34.Bh5 Rg7 35.Qxf6 Qxg3 36.Qf8+ Rg8 37.Qf6+ Qg7–+. I believe I saw this, but for some reason forgot about it a few seconds later!
34.Ra2 Rg7 35.Bh5 Nb4 36.Rh2 Qe7
37.Bg6 Kg8 38.g4 d3
In heavy time pressure, I make a natural advance. But it was another piece which had to go to d3: 38...Nd3!, preparing Nf4 or Nc5. White could resign.
I decided to make a "get-to-move-40" response, but once again I had the chance to put the knight on c5 after 39...Na6.
40.Qf2 Qb7 41.Qe3 Kg8?
Another time-wasting move. 41...a4 wasn’t such a difficult win. I guess my attention had been so devoted to the kingside these last 10 moves that I totally forgot there's another side of the board! 42.bxa4 Nc2 is the idea, and if White plays 43.Qxd3, then 43...Qb1+ 44.Kg2 Ne1+ wins the queen.
White loses by force now. He should have sat back and waited with 43.Kg1, after which I would have to figure a way to break through. I'd probably have started with 43...Qc7 44.Kf2 Qc5 45.Qxc5 dxc5 46.Ke3 Rg7, and the endgame should be won for me. I'd probably have to relocate my knight to d4 at a timely moment and pressure his b3 pawn.
Now I win a second pawn, and my queen infiltrates decisively.
44.Qh3 Qxc5 45.Bf7+
The last attempt to complicate matters.
45...Kxf7 46.Qxh7+ Rg7 47.Qh5+ Ke7 48.Qh6
48.g5 Qc1+ 49.Kh2 (49.Rg1 Qxg1+ 50.Kxg1 Rxg5+–+) 49...Qf4+ 50.Kh3 fxg5–+.
48...Rf7 49.g5 Qc1+ 50.Rg1 Qf4 51.gxf6+ Kd7 52.Qh5 Qxe4+ 53.Rg2 Rxf6
I just had to make sure that I could escape the barrage of checks coming my way.
54.Qh7+ Kc6 55.Qh8 Qxf5 56.Qa8+ Kb5 57.Qb7+ Kc5 58.Qa7+ Kd5 59.Qb7+ Kd4 60.Qa7+
The immediate 60.Rf2 was a devilish possibility for White. Of course, I would have simply played 60...Qh3+, followed by Rg6, but what if I decided to play 60...Qxf2?. Then White draws by means of stalemate! 61.Qe4+ Kc3 (61...Kc5 62.Qc4+ Kb6 63.Qc7+ Kb5 64.Qc4+ Kb6 65.Qc7+ Kb5 66.Qc4+=) 62.Qc4+ Kd2 (62...Kb2 63.Qc1+ Ka2 64.Qa3+ Kb1 65.Qc1+=) 63.Qc1+ Ke2 64.Qd2+ Kf3 65.Qf4+ Ke2 66.Qd2+ Kf3 67.Qf4+=).
60...Ke4 61.Rf2 Qh3+ 0–1
61...Qxf2 works here: 62.Qb7+ (62.Qe3+ Qxe3; 62.Qd4+ Qxd4; 62.Qh7+ Qf5) 62...Nd5 63.Qxd5+ Kxd5 and it's not stalemate, courtesy of the b3 pawn!
This win enabled us to draw even in the match against Princeton, bringing the score to 1–1. Unfortunately, our Board 3 lost, and Princeton regained the lead 2–1. Luckily our Board 2 and captain Grant Xu won, which tied the match at 2–2. Sadly for us, we finished second on tiebreaks. Nonetheless, I believe our team had the best overall performance, considering our opposition.