USATE 2009 Brilliancy

By Michael Goeller

If they gave a "Brilliancy Prize" at the US Amateur Teams East and World Amateur Teams (held in Parsipanny in February), this game would surely deserve it. And it is no surprise that it was played by 17-year-old Robert Hess, who is well known for his incredibly deep calculations. Just this month, Hess scored the remaining two norms he needed to gain the Grandmaster title. To judge from this game, he was already playing like a GM.

IM Robert L Hess (2544) - FM Paul Mac Intyre (2320) [C77]

US Amateur Team-ch East/Parsipanny,NJ (2) 2009
Table 7, Board 1: #46 Be Kind - Resign vs. #9 Palin - I Can See Check

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. Qe2

The Worrall Attack, which is recommended by Andrew Greet in the recent "Play the Ruy Lopez." It is much less deeply analyzed than most of the rest of the Ruy Lopez, and therefore well suited to Robert Hess, whose strength is less in the openings than in his middlegame play. White has two standard attacking plans here: the first is to play O-O, h3, c3, Rd1 and d4 with strong control of the center, the second is to keep things closed by d3 and delay castling while bringing pieces over to the kingside with ideas like Bg5, h3, g4, Nbd2-f1-g3 etc.


5... b5

In one of his early games with this line, Hess encountered 5... Be7 6. O-O (6. c3!) 6... b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 d5! giving Black a fine version of the Marshall Gambit -- though one White can decline by 9. d3 (9. exd5 Nxd5 (9... e4!? 10. dxc6 Bg4) 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Qxe5 Nf6 12. d4 Bd6) 9... Bb7 10. Rd1 d4 11. Nbd2 h6 12. Nf1 Re8 13. h3 Bf8 14. g4!? Na5 15. Bc2 Nh7 16. Ng3 c5 17. Bd2 Nc6 18. a3 Bc8= 1/2-1/2 in Hess,R (2492)-Korley,K (2082)/New York USA 2008 (66).


6. Bb3 Bc5

Hess played a fascinating game at Cappelle la Grande that continued 6... Be7 7. c3! O-O 8. d4 d6 9. Nbd2 Bg4 10. h3 Bh5 11. d5 Na5 12. Bc2 Qd7 13. Nf1 c6 14. dxc6 Qxc6 15. Ng3 Bg6 16. h4!? (16. O-O) 16... h6 17. h5 Bh7 18. Nh4 d5! 19. exd5 Qxd5 20. Ng6! Rfe8 (20... fxg6 21. hxg6 Bxg6 22. Bxg6 Qxg2?! 23. Bxh6!!) 21. Ne4 Qe6 22. Nxf6+ Qxf6 23. Qe4 fxg6 24. hxg6 Bxg6 25. Qxg6 Qxg6 26. Bxg6 Rf8 27. Ke2 Rad8 28. Be4 Nc4 29. b3 Nd6 30. Bd5+ Kh8 31. Bb2 Nf5 32. Bb7?! Bc5! 33. Rhf1? e4! 34. g4 e3!? 35. gxf5 Rd2+ 36. Kf3 Rxf5+ 37. Kg4 Rg5+ 38. Kf3 Rf5+ 39. Kg4 Rf7 40. Bf3 h5+ 41. Kg3 Bd6+ 42. Kg2 Rxb2 43. Rab1 Rxa2 44. Ra1 Rd2 45. Rxa6 g6 46. Ra8+ Kg7 47. Re8 exf2 48. Rxf2 Rd3 49. Re6 Rf5 50. c4 Bc5?! (50... Rg5+! 51. Kf1 Bc5) 51. Rxg6+!! (an amazing save!) 51... Kxg6 52. Be4 Bxf2 1/2-1/2 Hess,R (2445) -L'Ami,E (2581)/ Cappelle la Grande 2008 -- after 53.Bxd3 there is no way for Black to avoid exchanging off his b-pawn and his Rook at f5, after which he has the classic "wrong-Bishop and Rook pawn" drawn ending. Despite its flaws, this was a game rich in ideas. 53. Bxd3 b4!? 54. Bxf5+ Kxf5 55. Kxf2 is also a draw since Black cannot attack the pawn at b3 without White's passed c-pawn running to Queen.


7. c3 d6 8. d3 Bb6

Usually Black castles here, but then White can begin marshalling his forces for an attack on the kingside. The Bishop retreat seems a delaying tactic, waiting for White to castle before castling himself, but Hess's next labels it a minor inaccuracy.


9. Be3! O-O

9... Bxe3 10. fxe3 favors White, but allowing the exchange at b6 damages Black's pawn structure.


10. Bxb6 cxb6 11. Nbd2 Ra7!?

This seems to be the beginnings of Black's attack plan in the game -- the idea being to swing the Rook over to the kingside. Though Black seems to have no positional warrant for such an attack, it could have been more dangerous than in the game.


12. O-O Na5 13. Bc2 Nh5 14. Qe3 f5 15. d4!?

"The best way to meet an attack on the wing is in the center," but here 15. b4 followed by 16.a4 (as happens later in the game) may actually be best.


15... f4?

15... fxe4! is a very tough move, when White's best is 16. Bxe4! (16. Qxe4?! Bf5 17. Qd5+ Kh8 18. Bxf5 Nf6! 19. Qe6 Re8 20. Qc8 Qe7 21. dxe5 Rxc8) (while 16. Nxe4!? Nc4) 16... d5 17. Bc2 e4 18. Ne5 Nf4 but this is pretty unclear and Black seems to be getting the kingsideinitiative he was after.


16. Qd3 Rd7!?

Black strongly discourages 17.dxe5 opening the center, but now White goes for the queenside attack.


17. b4! Nc6 18. a4! Na7 19. axb5 Nxb5 20. Ba4 g5!?

Black launches a desperation attack which contains some tricks.


21. c4! g4 22. cxb5 gxf3 23. Qxf3!? Rg7 24. Bd1!

24. Qxh5?! Bg4 25. Qh6 Rg6 wins the Queen, though it is still quite unclear.


24... Qg5

24... Bg4 25. Qb3+!


25. bxa6!

Suddenly White has a pawn on the way to the queening square.


25... exd4

25... Be6 26. dxe5 dxe5 27. Bb3! kills all of Black's attacking chances and leaves White with a killer outside passed pawn.


26. Nc4 Nf6

27. a7!!

This leads to a stunning double Queen sacrifice that allows White to take over the initiative and force victory.


27... Bg4 28. a8=Q Bxf3 29. Bxf3 Rxa8 30. Rxa8+ Kf7 31. Nxd6+ Ke6

31... Kg6? 32. Nf5 and Black has no time to save the Exchange since 32... Rc7? allows 33. h4 trapping the Black Queen.


32. Nf5 Rd7 33. h4 Qg6 34. Rc1 Qf7

Hess correctly judged that, while material was theoretically about equal, Black would be hopeless with his King exposed in the center and White's pieces so beautifully coordinated for the attack. The rest is a slaughter. If 34... d3 35. Rc6+ Kf7 36. Bd1! and the threat of Bb3+ is deadly.


35. Rc6+ Ke5 36. Rxb6 Nxe4 37. Nh6 Qe7 38. Ra5+

and it is mate in three. A brilliant game from the future GM, and if they gave a brilliancy prize at the US Amateur Team East this would surely deserve it. FM MacIntyre suffered very little from the loss, as his team went on to win the tournament and play for the World Amateur Team title.



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Copyright © 2009 by Michael Goeller