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Abby Blogs on her Win in Springfield Print E-mail
By Abby Marshall   
June 17, 2008
I drive three hours to Springfield, VA to play in a round robin tourney and I lose the first game Friday night against one of the lowest rated players. Tomorrow is three rounds of master level opponents and more lousy takeout Chinese. I should never go anywhere.

In a round robin, you don’t get the typical yo-yo pattern where you play way up, lose, then play way down a couple times only to get smashed again, and finally play someone around your strength in the last round. So I was kinda excited about this event because it was the first round robin I’d played in (not counting in elementary school where the average rating was 900) and I was one of the weakest players in a field of eight with an average rating of 2250 or so. There is something to be said about consistently playing people at your level or stronger; it may cause you to rise to the level of your opponents.

I honestly feared the goose egg. I just took it one game at a time and tried not to think about the cumulative result (i.e. imagining the huge humiliation of losing every single time). Also, I prepared for my opponents, which has two benefits: I wasn’t surprised by the opening and I tried harder at the board since I had already invested effort into the game beforehand and I wanted it to pay off. After three rounds I had 1/3 (two draws and a loss) and was feeling ok. This game turned it around for me.


Abby Marshall (2074) - Daniel Miller (2321) [C32]


1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 e4 4.d3 Nf6 5.dxe4 Nxe4 6.Nf3 Bc5 7.Qe2 Bf5 8.Nc3 Qe7 9.Be3 Bxe3 10.Qxe3 Nxc3 11.Qxe7+ Kxe7 12.bxc3 Be4 13.Ng5 Bxd5 14.0–0–0 c6 15.c4 All theory up to this point. Normal is 15.Re1+ but I forgot the moves. 15...h6?! [15...Be6 After the game, Daniel told me that he should have played this, where Fritz gives White a +.31 and I said I thought White has a small advantage. Andrew Samuelson said +.33 is +/=. Um, yeah, so can we agree that it's probably manageable for Black? :)] 16.cxd5 hxg5 17.d6+! Kf6 Oh wow, can he really do this? [17...Kd8 18.fxg5 Nd7 What I expected. 19.h4 Nc5 20.Bc4 Rf8 21.Rhe1 Yeah maybe what he did is best, otherwise White will squeeze Black to death.] 18.fxg5+ Kxg5 19.Bc4 Nd7! [19...f6 20.Rhe1 b5 21.Bb3 Na6 22.Re7 Black can't allow the rook to reach the seventh rank.] 20.Bxf7 Rad8 21.h3 Ne5?! This lets me get organized. Better is [21...Rhf8 22.Bb3 Rf2 23.g3 Nc5 24.Rhe1 Kf6] 22.Bb3 Rhf8 23.Rhe1 Ng6 24.Rd4 I thought for a while on this move. I think the best approach is to take it slow. I want to get to the seventh rank and eventually push my kingside pawns. 24...Rf4?! I don't like this for him because I get the seventh rank. Maybe my advantage is not as large but it is easier to handle. 25.Rxf4 Nxf4 26.Re7 g6 27.Rxb7 [27.g3 Nxh3 28.Be6 Ng1 29.d7 Ne2+ 30.Kd2 Nd4] 27...Rxd6 28.Rxa7 Nxg2 29.a4 Ne3 [29...Nf4 30.Rh7 Rd8 31.Kb2 Kf5 32.Kc3 g5 33.Kb4 Ra8 34.Kc5 Kg6 35.Rc7 Nxh3 Probably White is winning, but suddenly the position is a little more wild. It was Black's best shot to go after the h-pawn with the knight.] 30.a5 Rd1+ 31.Kb2 Rh1 32.Rh7 Nd1+ 33.Ka3 Ne3 34.Kb4 Ra1 35.Rc7! Rh1 36.Rxc6 Rxh3 37.a6 Rh4+ 38.Kb5 Nf5 39.a7 Nd4+ 40.Kb6 Nxc6 41.a8Q?! [41.Kxc6 Rh8 42.Bd5 Kf4 43.Kc5 Is simpler.] 41...Nd4 42.Qd8+ Kh5 43.Qh8+ Kg5 44.Qd8+ Kh5 45.Bf7 Rf4 46.Qh8+ Kg5 47.Qe5+ Rf5 48.Qg3+ Kf6 49.Qxg6+ Ke7 Here I almost died. I thought I would lose the bishop or have to fight a bishop +pawn vs. knight endgame. I don't know why I thought this. Chess makes me paranoid. 50.Qg4 Rf6+ 51.Kb7 Nxc2 52.Bb3 Rd6 53.Qg7+ Black resigned. 1-0


Rodion Rubenchik (2336) - Abby Marshall (2074)

1.Nf3 Nc6 What, no Tarrasch?? The Tarrasch is what I like to call the Dracula opening: no one seems able to put a stake through its cursed heart. Perhaps it does need some updating, but Tarrasch died in 1934, and he has been slow to undertake further revisions. Anyway, I thought it was time to bust out the new stuff. 2.d4 d5 3.Bf4 Bg4 4.e3 e6 5.c4 Bb4+ 6.Nc3 Nge7 In the Chigorin, this is the usual set-up with knights on e7-c6 and bishops pinning the White knights. ...e5 is a typical idea and the emphasis is on piece play and rapid development. 7.Rc1 0–0 8.a3 [8.Be2 Maybe more accurate to develop some pieces.] 8...Bxc3+ 9.Rxc3 Ng6 10.h3 [10.cxd5 is best. 10...Qxd5 11.Bg3 e5 12.Bc4 Qd7÷] 10...Bxf3 11.Qxf3 e5 12.dxe5 [12.cxd5 Nxd4 13.exd4 exf4 Black threatens ...Nh4; 12.Bxe5 Ngxe5 13.dxe5 d4 14.Rb3 Nxe5 Probably about even.] 12...d4 13.Rb3? This loses time. [13.Rc2 Re8 14.Rd2 Ngxe5 15.Qg3 Qe7 Black is a little better.] 13...Na5 14.Rd3 [14.Rb4 c5 15.Rb5 b6 Next move...a6 wins the exchange] 14...c5! I liked this move because it opens the d8-a5 diagonal for my queen. 15.b3 [15.Qe4 Nxc4 16.Qxb7 Rb8 17.Qxa7 Nxf4 18.exf4 Nxb2 The twin passers are deadly.] 15...Nc6 16.exd4 This opens the e-file for my rook and gets my knight active, but it's hard to recommend something for White. [16.Rd2 Re8 17.Be2 Qa5; 16.Qd5!? Qb6 (16...Qe7 17.Qd6) 17.b4 cxb4 18.Qb5 bxa3 19.Rxa3 Qc7 20.Be2 White's position is a mess but at least White's other pieces can get out.] 16...Nxd4 17.Qg3 Re8 Simple and strong. My next move is either ...Qc7 or ... Qa5+ and it's hard to see how White can untangle himself. My opponent resigned here. A possible variation is 18.Be2 Qa5+ 19.Kf1 [19.b4 cxb4 20.Rxd4 bxa3+ 21.Bd2 a2 22.0–0 a1Q 23.Bxa5 Qxd4–+] 19...Qxa3 0–1

Larry Larkins (2115) - Abby Marshall (2074) [C65]


 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Bc5 5.c3 0–0 6.d4 Bb6 7.Qd3 d6 8.a4 a5 9.Na3 Qe7 10.Re1 Bg4 11.Nc4 Nd7 12.Bg5 f6 13.Bd2 Rad8 14.Ne3 Bxf3 15.gxf3 exd4 16.Nf5 Qe8 17.cxd4 Ne7 18.Ng3 Kh8 19.b4! axb4 20.a5 Ba7 21.Bxb4 Qf7 22.a6 bxa6 23.Rxa6 Bb8 24.Bxd7 Rxd7 25.d5 Rdd8 26.Bd2 Rc8 27.Rb1 f5 28.Nxf5 Nxf5 29.exf5 Qd7 30.Qe4 Rxf5 31.Ra8 Rff8 32.Qg4 Qf7 33.Qxc8? [33.Bc3 Keeps up the pressure.] 33...Qg6+ 34.Qg4 Qxb1+ 35.Kg2 Qb7? [35...Qd3!] 36.Bc3 Rg8 37.Ra5 c6 38.dxc6 Qxc6 39.Rh5 d5 It's insane but there is no win here for White. 40.Bd4 Bc7 41.f4 [41.Qf5 h6 42.Rg5 Qd6 43.Rg6 Qf4] 41...Bd8 42.f5 h6 43.Qg6 Qxg6+ 44.fxg6 Re8 45.Rxh6+ Kg8 46.Rh5 Re6 47.Rxd5 Rxg6+ 48.Kf1 Bb6 Draw agreed. I don't think White can win this. ½–½


So I got 4.5/7 points and tied for first. And I got first place on tiebreaks (ok, it’s just an impossible formula no one can understand, but it was a nice plaque). In at least three of the games I was definitely worse and I could easily have lost the last one, and the game against Daniel had its ups and downs.

I’m sure whatever momentum I was playing with here will evaporate when I go away for a month to a summer program, so I’ll try to enjoy this moment of feeling good about myself :)

Springfield Invitational FIDE Rating Tournament-
Access Crosstable here.
1-3. Abby Marshall, Andrew Samuelson and Rodion Rubenchik- 4.5
4-5. Adithya Basurbramanian, and Peter Minear- 4
6-7. Daniel Miller and Larry Larkins- 3
8.Adam Weissbarth -0.5