Max Sherer at the New Jersey Open

by Michael Goeller

My student Max Sherer did very well this past weekend at the New Jersey Open, finishing with an even score of 3-3 in the under-1900 section despite facing higher rated opposition in every round. The nine-year-old's official rating is 1400, but he is clearly ready to move up. Based on his performance in this year's event, Max may even be among the masters by the time he's 14 (the age at which Bobby Fischer won the NJ Open in 1957). You never know.

Ernesto Labate (1720) - Max Sherer (1400) [B33]

NJ Open/Somerset, NJ USA 2007

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6?! bxc6

White loses time trading Knights (since he trades a piece that has move three times for a piece that has moved only once). And by taking toward the center, Black gains a central pawn majority, which means he will eventually be able to dominate the center with pawns.


6. Nc3

A typical mistake by White here would be 6. e5? Qa5+ 7. Nc3 Qxe5+


6... e5!

Black starts using his pawns to assert his central superiority. Also fine is 6... d5!? 7. Bd3.


7. Bg5 Be7

Black should place his pieces more actively to support his play in the center. Perhaps 7... Rb8 8. Rb1 h6 9. Bd2 Bc5


8. Qd2 O-O!?

Black should play 8... h6! before castling to break the pin without risking the sacrifice that follows in the game.


9. Rd1 h6!?

Simple and safe is 9... Rb8 -- the text is a bit reckless.


10. Bxh6?

A typical piece sacrifice played below master. White typically has insufficient compensation for the piece against best play, but Black has to play both carefully and aggressively to prove it. The more circumspect 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. Bc4= is about equal. But the old-timer underestimates the kid!


10... gxh6 11. Qxh6 Ng4!

An excellent move, driving the Queen out and clearing the way for other pieces to support the exposed King.


12. Qh5 d6!

Black defends very accurately. Not 12... d5? 13. Be2 Nf6 14. Qg5+ Kh7 15. Rd3 when White has good attacking chances and at least three pawns for the piece after an eventual Qxe5.


13. Rd3

13... Qb6!

Counter-attack! Black strikes back at White's king, threatening ...Qxf2+. White's attack may look scary, but Black has to remember he is up a piece, and the only way to make that material superiority count is by counter-attack!


14. Nd1?!

White has a much stronger move, which requires precise calculation by Black: 14. Rf3! Qxb2! 15. Rh3 Qc1+ 16. Nd1 Nh6! (16... Qh6 17. Qxg4+ Bxg4 18. Rxh6 Kg7 is also good.) 17. Qxh6 Qxh6 18. Rxh6 Kg7 19. Rh5 Bg4! and Black will be up the Exchange for a pawn after 20. Be2 Bxh5 21. Bxh5 Rab8


14... Qb4+! 15. c3

15. Nc3 Qxb2 16. Rh3 Qc1+ etc. as in the note above.


15... Qxe4+ 16. Ne3 Qg6!

The exchange of Queens, which is now forced, squelches all of White's chances for the piece.


17. Qxg6+ fxg6 18. Nc4?

18. Nxg4 Bxg4 19. Rg3 Bh5!


18... Nxf2!

Black will now be up a lot of material with an easy win. Almost all of Max's moves have been flawless despite being under heavy pressure.


19. Rg3?! Nxh1 20. Rxg6+ Kh7 21. Bd3 Kh8

21... Nf2! attacks the bishop and is stronger.


22. Rh6+ Kg7 23. Rg6+ Kf7 24. Rh6 Kg7?!

Black appears to be playing to regain time on the clock and make it to time control. He certainly doesn't want to let an easy win slip away by not taking his time.


25. Rh7+ Kf6 26. Rh6+ Kf7 27. Nxd6+ Bxd6 28. Rxd6 Ke7 29. Rxc6 Kd7 30. Bb5 Ke7 31. Rc7+ Kf6 32. Rc6+ Kg7 33. Bd3 Rf6 34. Rc7+ Kf8 35. Rh7 Be6 36. Rh8+ Bg8 37. Bc4 Kg7!

Now White's tricks are over and the rest is easy.


38. Rh4 Bxc4 39. Rxc4 Rd8 40. Rc7+ Rf7 41. Rc5 Nf2

Black has made the time control up a piece and a Rook, so it's time to call it a day.


Max Sherer (1400) - Clifford Batezel (1737) [B30]

NJ Open/Somerset, NJ USA 2007

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 4. Nxd4 cxd4 5. O-O Qb6 6. Bc4 d6 7. d3

7. Qh5!? g6 8. Bb5+ Kd8 9. Qe2


7... g6 8. Nd2 Bg7 9. Bb3 Qc7 10. Nf3 Nf6? 11. Bf4?

11. Nxd4


11... e5 12. Bg5 O-O 13. Qd2 Bd7 14. Bh6 b5 15. Bxg7 Kxg7 16. a3

16. Rac1! a5 17. c3


16... Rac8 17. Ng5?! a5 18. Rac1 a4 19. Ba2 Bc6

20. Bxf7! Rxf7??

Black must play 20... Qe7 21. Ba2 though he is still lost. Now, however, the queen drops to...


21. Ne6+ Kg8 22. Nxc7 Rcxc7 23. f4 Ng4 24. fxe5 dxe5 25. Rxf7 Rxf7 26. Qg5 Ne3 27. Qd8+ Kg7 28. Qd6 1-0

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