Tom Bartell in Chicago

By Michael Goeller

New Jersey FM Tom Bartell made an excellent showing in Chicago at the 11th North American FIDE Invitational, May 17-23, 2008, finishing tied for fourth in a strong 10-man field. He had an unbeaten record going into the last round and likely would have scored an IM norm, but he lost his final game. Still, he should be proud of his performance, especially since he beat the two strongest IM competitors at the event (both of whom finished tied for 2nd and 3rd).

Round 4

FM Tom Bartell (2365) - IM Mark Ginsburg (2373) [D25]

11th North American FIDE Invitational/Chicago (4) 2008

Tommy played a very strong game against IM and chess blogger Mark Ginsburg

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 dxc4 4. e3 Bg4 5. Bxc4 e6 6. Nc3 a6 7. h3 Bh5 8. g4!

White gains a lot of space in this line.


8... Bg6 9. Ne5 Nbd7?!

This should probably be seen as a slight inaccuracy, since Black's best method of battling for the e5 square is by Nfd7, Nc6, and Bd6 if necessary. Black does much better than in the game after 9... Nfd7! 10. Nxg6 hxg6 11. Bf1! (better than the older 11. Qf3 Nc6) 11... Nc6

(11... e5?! seems premature, and White has done well after 12. Bg2 (or 12. Qb3!?) 12... c6 13. O-O exd4 14. exd4 Be7 15. Re1 O-O 16. Qb3 Bh4? (16... b5 17. d5) 17. Be3 (17. Qxb7) 17... Qb6 18. Qxb6 Nxb6 19. d5 Nc4 20. Bc5 Rc8 21. Be7 f6 22. b3 Nb6 23. Rad1 cxd5 24. Nxd5 N8d7 25. Re2 Ra7 26. Nxb6 Nxb6 27. Bd8 Na8 28. Rd7 Kh7 29. Ree7 Rc1+ 30. Bf1 Rc2 31. Rxg7+ 1-0 Martin,A-Littlewood,J/West Bromwich 2003)

12. Bg2 Nb6 13. Qb3 (13. Bxc6+!?) 13... Qd7 14. Bd2 O-O-O (14... e5 15. Na4!) 15. Na4 Nxa4 16. Qxa4 Nb4 17. Qxd7+ Rxd7 18. Ke2 c6 19. Rhc1 Nd5 20. a3 Be7 21. Rab1 (21. e4 Nc7 22. Be3 Bf6 xd4) 21... Kb8 22. Rc2 g5! 23. Rh1 f5!? 24. Rcc1 Rhd8 25. Ba5 Re8 26. Bf3 Bf6 27. Rhd1 g6= 0-1 Richter,C-Lengyel,B/Budapest 2006 (80).


10. Nxg6 hxg6 11. Bf1!

The Bishop is redeployed on the long diagonal where it also helps cover White's King after the inevitable O-O. This is probably one of those moves that Tommy would say "just feels right."


11... c6 12. Bg2 Bd6 13. O-O Nd5?!

13... Qb6! 14. f4 O-O-O 15. e4 e5 seems a faster implementation of the game idea, though White would still have the edge.


14. f4! Qc7 15. e4 Nxc3

This strengthens White's control of the center.

a) 15... N5b6!? might be best, when one game continued 16. Qe2 O-O 17. Be3 c5 18. e5! Be7 19. Rac1 Rac8 20. dxc5 (20. d5!?) 20... Bxc5 21. Ne4 Bxe3+ 22. Qxe3 Nc4 23. Qf2 Qb6 24. Rcd1 Rc7 (24... Rfd8 25. Nd6) 25. b3 Qxf2+ 26. Kxf2 Ncb6 27. Nd6 g5! 28. Rc1?!

No better is 28. Bxb7 Rc2+ 29. Kf3 Rxa2 but perhaps best is 28. a4! gxf4 29. a5 Rc2+ (29... Nc8 30. Rc1! Rxc1 31. Rxc1 Nxd6 32. exd6) 30. Kg1 Rxg2+!? 31. Kxg2 Nd5 32. Nc4 g5 33. Rf3 when White keeps an edge, though less than in the game.

28... Rxc1 29. Rxc1 gxf4 30. Rc7 Nxe5 31. Rxb7 Nd5 32. Bxd5 exd5 33. Ra7 d4 34. Rxa6 d3 35. Ra5 f6 (35... Rd8 36. Rd5) 36. Rd5 Rd8 37. Rd4! White's connected passed pawns will eventually assert themselves and Black will be in trouble. The game concluded 37... Kf8 38. a4 g6 39. Nb5 Rxd4 40. Nxd4 Ke7 41. a5 Kd6 42. a6 Kc7 43. Ne6+ Kb6 44. Nxf4 f5 45. gxf5 gxf5 46. Ke3 Kxa6 47. Nxd3 Ng6 48. Nf4 Ne5 49. h4 Kb5 50. Nd3 Nf7 51. Kf4 Nh6 52. Kg5 Ng8 53. Kxf5 1-0 Prohaszka,P-Fodor,T/Budapest 2007 (53).


b) 15... Nxf4?! 16. e5 Nxh3+ 17. Bxh3 Rxh3 18. exd6 Qxd6 19. Bf4! gives Black insufficient compensation for the piece.

16. bxc3

16... O-O-O

This makes sense superficially because White's King looks somewhat exposed, but it will be much easier for White to shut down Black's play on the h-file than for Black to shut down White's play on the b-file. However, it is hard to recommend an alternative, which suggests that Black must improve earlier. White is simply better due to his two Bishops and central control.


17. Qb3 Qb6 18. Qc2 e5?

Black has to try something, but long-term this advance gives White too much power in the center and the open f-file spells trouble. Black had to retreat with 18... Be7 19. Rb1 Qc7 20. c4 and hope to hold the fort.


19. Rb1 Qa7 20. fxe5 Nxe5 21. Qe2

21. Kh1! Nxg4 22. Rxf7 might have been even stronger.


21... b5 22. Kh1 Nc4 23. e5 Bb8 24. Qf3 Qd7 25. Bg5 Rdf8 26. Rbe1 f6 27. e6! Qd6

28. Bf4! Qxf4

28... Qd5 29. Qf2 Rxh3+ 30. Kg1


29. Qxc6+! Qc7 30. Qxa6+ Kd8 31. e7+ 1-0

A very nice game from Tommy against a smart IM!

Round 5

IM Emory Tate (2368) - FM Tom Bartell (2365) [A30]

11th North American FIDE Invitational/Chicago (5) 2008

Emory Tate is well known for his opening experiments and his enterprising play. But here his attempts to mix things up tactically simply backfire against Tommy's excellent calculation and control.

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 b6 3. g3 Bb7 4. Nc3 c5 5. Bh3!?

I do not see much point in this move, and neither have the hundreds of GMs who have reached this position.

5. Bg2 is the norm.


5... e6

Perhaps immediately 5... Bxf3! is best.


6. O-O Bxf3!

A principled response to White's play. The doubled pawns and potentially weak d-pawn give White lots to worry about.


7. exf3 Nc6 8. f4 Be7

Not the natural 8... d5?! due to 9. f5! with counterplay.


9. Ne2 O-O 10. d4 d5 11. cxd5 Nxd5 12. dxc5 Bxc5

White has managed to rebalance the pawn structure, but Black's better pieces give him a slight edge and the doubled f-pawns are still a potential liability.


13. a3

No better is 13. f5!? Qf6!


13... Qf6!

Preventing b4 and clearing the way for Black's Rooks to gain the central files.


14. f5?! Rad8! 15. Qa4?!

Better is 15. Qc2 Nce7 16. fxe6 fxe6 but Black's play along the open f-file spells trouble.


15... exf5

Black is simply a pawn up.


16. Qc2 Rfe8!

Bartell's moves are simple and strong. A promising alternative was 16... f4 17. Nxf4 Nxf4 18. Bxf4 Nd4! and White's Queen has no good square, while Black threatens Ne2+ and Nf3+ gaining a big edge, e.g.: 19. Qc4 (19. Qd3 g5!) 19... Nf3+ 20. Kh1 Nd2 21. Bxd2 Rxd2.


17. Bxf5

This may actually be the best of bad alternatives. But now Black gains a slight material edge.


17... Rxe2! 18. Bxh7+ Kh8 19. Qxe2 Kxh7 20. Qh5+ Kg8 21. Bg5 Qf5

The pin on the Bishop prevents White from regaining material, leaving Black up two pieces for a Rook and pawn.


22. g4!?

Rather desperate play, but White is in desperate straits and needs to get the Queens off the board lest he get mated.

22. b4 Bd4 23. Rac1 Ne5


22... Qf3! 23. Rae1

23. Bxd8?? Nf4 forces checkmate.


23... Nf4

Stronger was 23... Be7!! 24. Rxe7!? (24. Bxe7?? Nf4) (24. Be3 g6 25. Qh6 Qxg4+) 24... Ncxe7 25. Re1 Rc8! and Black's threats of Rc2 or Ng6-f4 are tough to parry.


24. Bxf4 Qxf4 25. Qf5 Qxf5 26. gxf5 a5!

White has had to seek an ending to avoid getting slaughtered in the middlegame, but he is simply lost. Black has a slight material edge made even stronger due to his better pawns and pieces.


27. f6

27. Rd1 Nd4


27... Rd2!

Black handles the remainder of the game quite nicely, always adding to his advantage.


28. Re8+ Kh7 29. Rc8 Ne5 30. b4 axb4 31. axb4 Bxb4 32. fxg7 Kxg7 33. f4 Nd3 34. f5 Bc5+ 35. Kh1 Kf6 36. h4 Ne5 37. Rg8 Rd4 38. Rh8 Ng4 39. Rg1 Rf4 40. Rg3 Kxf5 41. Rh5+ Ke4 42. Kg2 f5 43. Kh3 Rf1 44. Rxg4+ fxg4+ 45. Kxg4 Rg1+ 46. Kh3 Bd6 47. Rg5 Rxg5 48. hxg5 Kf5 0-1

Games in PGN

More information available from the NACA site and Monroi.