Three Roads to the 2011 Arizona State Championship: Part III
By IM Levon Altounian   
December 14, 2010
IM Levon Altounian
In the final installment of Three Roads to the Arizona State Championship, IM Levon Altounian goes over an interesting King's Indian win. Also see part I featuring IM Mark Ginsburg and part II featuring David Adelberg.

In round one of the Arizona State Championship, I faced Jason Mueller. Apparently Jason made a secret pact to attack everyone in this tournament, scare everyone and then see how many points he can collect. In a King's Indian Jason started pushing pawns against my king and a tactical battle issued. At the end, the weaknesses he created along the way proved too decisive.


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 0-0!?
On an off-chance my opponent will make a "mistake" and play 5.e5.
He did!
At this point I was scrambling to remember the game Letelier- Fischer (1960), where Black checkmated with a very beautiful queen sacrifice on f4. Readers interested, can play through the game below and find Fischer's own game analysis in the famed book My 60 Most Memorable Games by Robert Fischer.


More dangerous looking than the slightly timid set-up employed in the above-mentioned game.
6...d6 7.h5!
At this point I was trying to compare it to certain lines of g6 Caro-Kanns, weird Dragon Sicilians and King's Indians where White launchesa similar attack. The only games I could recall were by GM Alex Yermolinsky (Yermo) and the late GM Aleksander Wojtkiewitz (Wojo). They all ended up being wild games that ended in draws.

7...dxe5 8.d5 did not suit my style. Black is not sure what to do, has many options where none looks very good, while White has a very simple plan: 1. Break open the kingsside, 2. trade the black pieces defending the King, 3.Checkmate the king, 4. Win a Brilliancy Prize. 7...Nc6 avoids this fate and pressures the center.
Same strategy! Forward! Amazingly, White can still "come to his senses", play 8 f4 and be OK. Sometimes chess works in mysterious ways.
8...fxe6? 9.hxg6 hxg6 10.Bd3; 8...Bxe6?? 9.d5
9.exf7+ Rxf7 10.hxg6 hxg6 11.Bd3 Bf5 12.g4?!
Continuing the direct assault but it seems 12. Nh3 was better. During the game I was not sure how to play after Nh3. Upon checking Rybka after the game, I still didn't have a lot of clarity. Most possible lines were not easy to play for Black. Therefore, the question I still have no answer for is- Where did Black go wrong?
12...Bxd3 13.Qxd3 Qd7!
Trading Queens and giving the pawn back is the best way for Black to head from a crazy opening straight into a simple endgame, effectively bypassing middlegame complications. [13...e5?! 14.Qxg6 Qf6 15.Qh7+ Kf8 16.Be3]
14.Qxg6 Qe6+!
Of course I was also tempted to go after White's King rather than trade queens. After all, White King is exposed too. 14...Nf6 might work, if you are a computer, but it's very dangerious if you are a human and low on time, especially when trading Queens is so much easier. Here are few tactical ideas that could occur after 14...Nf6. 15.Rh4! (15.g5?! Qg4!; 15.f3?! Qe6+ 16.Nce2 Qxc4 17.Nxd4 Qxd4 18.Ne2) 15...Qc6 (15...c5 16.Be3.)
15.Qxe6 Nxe6
Now White has numerous little probems and he was not able to cope with them properly. In three more moves White is close to losing.

Very natural looking but bad. It seems 16. Nh3 or 16.f3 were the best chances, where Black still stands slightly better.
16...Nf6! 17.f3
17.g5 Ng4 18.g6 Bxc3+! 19.bxc3 Rg7
17...Nd7! 18.Kd2 Ne5
Now White is losing a pawn and the rest has to be a matter of technique.
19.b3 Raf8!?

19...Nxf3+ 20.Nxf3 Rxf3 21.Rae1 c6
20.Rc1 c6!?
20...Nxf3+ 21.Nxf3 Rxf3 22.Nd5 R3f7
21.Rh5 Nf4 22.Rf5 Rxf5 23.gxf5 Ng2 24.f6 Rxf6 25.Rc2 b6 26.Ke2 Rg6 27.Bd4 Nf4+ 28.Kf1
28...Nxc4! 29.bxc4 Bxd4
White is down two pawns and almost out of time. He resigned. 0-1

Round 2 was against Nick Thompson (4th Board for Arizona Scorpions). Nick has it all figured out and memorized so finding an opening weakness in his style is both easy (he always repeats) and hard (he knows his lines well). I played a line that I prepared for the 2010 US Championship. It worked pretty well and after some small mistakes on both sides I won.

Round 3 was a quick and bloodless draw against IM Mark Ginsburg. It is always hard beating Mark in tournaments because not only he is very experienced but loves theoretical chess and knows lines that can only be found if you search obscure websites or dusty 1950's books. That draw almost proved to be my downfall in this tournament.

Round 4 was another quick but extremely complicated battle with ever-dangerous Aldama. What was almost comical is that I was very well prepared in the variation that we played, having worked it out with the computer, but have a general distaste for those type of positions. Aldama, on the other hand, had no clue about any of the lines, had to find everything on his own but he does like those positions and does very well with them. That was the main cause of my uneasiness when I was thinking of playing that line.

Round 5 was a game against rapidly improving David Adelberg. Having White, I was confident I could steer the game toward a more positional game. After his inaccuracy on move 3, it looked like I got what I needed. 15 moves later, however, I realized the advantage I got was too small, got into time pressure and repeated moves.

The final result of two wins and three draws was not a good one.

What saved me was that the leader- Mark Ginsburg lost a very tough and very drawish endgame against Aldama. I have to mention also the risk taking Adelberg had a fabulous tournament, beating Aldama, Mueller, Thompson and losing only to Ginsburg, and only after declining a draw.

1st place was shared between Ginsburg (plaque), Altounian and Adelberg. Congratulations!

I want to thank all the players, organizers and SACA (Southern Arizona Chess Association) for this wonderful event.

See Part I of this article for Mark Ginsburg's analysis of the event and Part II for David Adelberg's. Special thanks to Daniel Adelberg for his help on this article.