Interview and Analysis with Vigorito
By J. Shahade/D.Vigorito   
April 22, 2008
DavidViglead.jpgDavid Vigorito of Massachusetts came out on top in the State Champion of Champion events held on World Chess Live, earning one of two final coveted Frank Berry U.S. Championship spots. David dispatched crowd favorite Ray Robson in the semi-finals and then he took down IM Enrico Sevillano in the finals. David annotated his first win against Sevillano for Chess Life Online. He also talked to CLO editor Jennifer Shahade about how writing books affects his play, why he didn't want to win or lose against Robson and his picks and plans for Tulsa.


1.e4 c6
I had no time at all to prepare, and I figured Enrico would be expecting my usual 1...c5 or 1...e5.
This was already a surprise.
I took some time to play this. Normal would be 2...d5 with some kind of Panov, but I thought that the strategic positions that arise after 2...e5 would suit me more than Enrico - he is very comfortable in open positions, where his natural feel for the initiative make him very dangerous.
3.Nf3 d6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d4 Nbd7 6.Be2 Be7 7.0–0 0–0
A Caro Kann has turned into an Old Indian Defense!
8.Re1 a6 9.a4
This looks dubious to me. ...b5 is not such a big threat.
Position after 9...a5

Fixing the queenside. it is difficult for White to fight for the initiative now.
This also looks a bit odd, so I felt that my opening choice was a success.
10...Re8 11.Qd2 h6 12.Bh4 exd4
I did not see any more good waiting moves. Normally Black would be in no hurry to concede the center, but here I get the c5- and b4-squares for my pieces.
13.Qxd4 Nc5
Threatening ...Nb3.
14.Rad1 Bg4
14...Qb6 was another option.
15.h3 Bxf3 16.Bxf3 Nfd7! 17.Bxe7 Qxe7 18.Qd2
After long though, Enrico decides to keep the tension. 18.Qxd6 Qxd6 (worse is 18...Nb6 19.Qxe7 Rxe7 20.b3! with the idea 20...Nxb3? 21.Rb1) 19.Rxd6 Nb6 hitting c4 and a4, is the point of Black's play. Here 20.b3?! Nxb3 21.Rb1? can be met by 21...Nxc4, hitting the rook on d6.
18...Rad8 19.Qc2 Na6
This allows me to have both of my knights entrenched.
20.Ne2 Ndc5 21.b3 Nb4 22.Qb1 Qf6 23.Nd4?
This walks into a tactic. Better is 23.Ng3 although 23...g6 with the idea ...h5 is still nice for Black.
23...d5! 24.cxd5 cxd5 25.Nb5
Not 25.exd5? Rxe1+ 26.Rxe1 Qxd4.
25...dxe4 26.Rxd8 Rxd8 27.Bxe4 g6
Instead 27...Rd2 is strong, because after 28.Bh7+ there is 28...Kf8.
28.Bf3 b6 29.Rd1 Rxd1+ 30.Qxd1 Nbd3
Black is still better because the knights are so good and the light-squared bishop has little to do, but the game should still probably end in a draw.
31.Qe2 h5
A typical method, gaining space and considering ...h4.
32.Bd5 Kg7 33.g3?! h4 34.Nc7? This is just too adventurous. White's pieces become entangled and his king lacks defenders.

Position after 34...Qd8

35.Ne8+ Kf8 36.Bc6 hxg3 37.fxg3 Qd4+ 38.Kg2 Ne5! 39.Bb5 Qd5+ 40.Kf2 Ne4+ 41.Ke1 Nxg3
This is good enough, but 41...Qd4 is the real knockout blow. both ...Qg1+ and ...Qa1+ are threatened.
42.Qe3 Nf5 43.Qxb6 Qe4+ 44.Kd2 Nf3+ 45.Kc1 Qe1+ 46.Kb2 Qd2+ 47.Kb1 Qc3!
Final position, Sevillano-Vigorito

There is no good defense to 48......Nd2+ 49.Ka2 Qc2+ 50.Ka3 Nb1 mate.

Jennifer Shahade-
How did you feel going into the tournament? 
David Vigorito- Before the preliminary blitz tournament, I thought I had maybe a 10% chance. I somehow ended up with 17/18 despite being lost in several games.

JS-How did you prepare the morning of the big game/s?

DV- I prepared one line for Robson in the Semi-Slav and he went right into it. I am a good guesser. I did not really prepare for the second game, although I never would have looked at what he ended up playing. Enrico and I have known each other a long time, and I did not prepare anything at all for him. Even if I had wanted to, I did not have time.

-Did it make you nervous to play for such high stakes online?
DV-Not at all, because I had no expectations, even when I made it into the semi-finals and then the finals. I was very relaxed.

JS-How much do you value a U.S. Championship spot as opposed to say, a big prize?
DV-This is difficult to answer. It was very special to me to play in the US Championship back in 2006, but I did not feel any kind of pressure to play in it again.

JS-Whose chances do you like in Tulsa? Which lower rated players will surprise us?

 DV-The tournament is very dense this year. There is only one player under 2200, one under 2300, and one under 2400 I believe. So I guess that makes me one of the lower rated player. I would watch Ippolito - he has gained 100 points in the last year! Robson and Hess should really be there. I heard that Hess couldn't play even if he was invited, but Robson is the player to watch. I was not thrilled to play him in the semi-final, because I am 0-2 vs. him OTB and I did not like the idea of "blocking" him.

JS-Does writing chess books help your play? How so?

DV-Well, I think it helps because I am studying. I am not very studious, despite what many think. The bad side is that writing big books like Challenging the Nimzo-Indian and Play the Semi-Slav can be exhausting, and I have experienced downswings in my play when working on a book. It can take time for stuff to sink in.

JS-Tell us about the ups and downs of your match with Ray.

DV-Well, the first game vs. Ray was basically preparation plus tactics. The second game I was just lost. I made it difficult for him perhaps, but it was basically a swindle.



What about against Enrico? What was the toughest part of that match?

DV- In the first game against Enrico I took some time on my second move! I got a decent position and perhaps a slight edge. When he sent his pieces on a scavenger hunt, his king was left without defenders and my queen and two-knight combo were able to mate him. The final game was strange - I only needed a draw to win the match, and I was up a piece in the endgame almost right out of the opening! I gave it back to reach a drawn king ending. Enrico avoided the draw (which was understandable considering the match situation) and was lost. We got a queen ending where I was up a pawn and could win a second pawn.

 Instead I made one check too many and blundered with 48.Qe4+, and at first thought I would lose after Qe3!

Position after 48.Qe4

It all flashed before me - instead of winning 2-0, it would be 1-1 and go to blitz tiebreaks. I somehow calmed myself down and found a draw after 48...Qe3 49.Qd5!

This may seem trivial to some, but psychologically it was very difficult. Enrico is very tricky! In this game I promoted pawns three times - twice to queens and once to a knight. 

JS- How will you prepare for Tulsa?
DV-I won't! I have a book deadline to meet. There is just no time. Notice I didn't list myself among those players whose chances do I like in Tulsa.
Modest expectations worked out for David in the Champion of Champion events, so maybe it will be a good strategy for him in Tulsa as well!