NJKOs Close Winning Season with Loss to Queens

By Michael Goeller

The New Jersey Knockouts finished their most successful season to date with a loss to Queens, 3-1. It may have been that Jersey just didn't need the win, while Queens wanted to at least finish above the bottom. It turned out that the Knockouts did not even need to score a single point in their match to go into the post-season with the best record in the League (and the advantages in the playoffs that brings), because Chicago tied Seattle. Only if Seattle had won their match 4-0 and New Jersey lost 0-4 could Seattle have claimed that spot. Though a bitter-sweet way to end a winning season, it got the job done.

Board One

GM Joel Benjamin-NJ (2641) - GM Alex Stripunsky-QNS (2628) [A21]

US Chess League 2009/Internet Chess Club (10) 2009


1. c4

The pawn position reached in the game reminds me of one of my favorite lines for Black in the Bird Defense to the Ruy Lopez:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 4. Nxd4 exd4 5. O-O Bc5

Not as good, but probably most similar to Benjamin's line, is 5... c6 6. Bc4 d5 7. exd5 cxd5 8. Bb5+ Bd7 9. Re1+ Ne7 10. a4 (10. c4! a6 11. Bxd7+ Qxd7 12. d3 O-O-O 13. Nd2 Kb8 14. b4 dxc4 15. dxc4 Nc6 16. b5 axb5 17. cxb5 Nb4 18. Nc4 Qf5 19. Re5 Qc2 20. Bf4 Qxd1+ 21. Rxd1 Ka8 22. a3 f6 23. axb4 1-0 Garry Kasparov-Alexander Khalifman/Moscow RUS 2002) 10... a6 11. Bxd7+ Qxd7 12. d3 O-O-O 13. b4 Nf5 14. b5 a5 15. Bd2 b6 16. c3 Bc5 17. cxd4 Nxd4 18. Be3 Rhe8 19. Nd2 Kb7 20. Rc1 Re6 21. Rxc5!? bxc5 22. Bxd4 cxd4 23. Nb3 Qc7 24. Rxe6 fxe6 25. Nxd4 Qc3 26. Nc6 Rc8 27. g3 Rxc6 28. bxc6+ Kxc6 1/2-1/2 Garry Kasparov-Alexander Khalifman/Moscow RUS 2002 (73)

6. d3 c6 7. Bc4 d5! 8. exd5 cxd5 9. Bb5+ Bd7 ( The exchange of Bishops leads to easy equality, but Black can try for more with 9... Kf8!) 10. Bxd7+ Qxd7










11. Nd2 (11. Re1+ Ne7 12. Qh5! O-O 13. Bd2 a5 14. c4 Bb6?! (14... Ra6!?) (14... Rac8) 15. cxd5 Nxd5 16. Na3 Bc7 17. Nc4 f6?! 18. Re4 Ne7 19. Rae1 Nc6 20. f4 f5 21. Re6 b5 22. Na3 Qd5 23. Re8 Bd6 24. Rxa8 Rxa8 25. Re8+ Rxe8 26. Qxe8+ Bf8 27. Bxa5? Nxa5 28. Nxb5 Qf7 (28... Qxa2) 29. Qa8 Nb7 30. Nxd4 Qe7 31. Kf2 g6 32. Qc8 Nc5 33. Nxf5 Nxd3+ 34. Kf3 gxf5 35. Qc4+ Kg7 36. Qxd3 1-0 Kager,K-Rietveld,J 1990 (63)) 11... Ne7 12. Nf3 O-O 13. Bf4 Rfe8 14. Re1 f6 15. Qd2 Nc6 16. Rxe8+ Rxe8 17. Re1 g5 18. Bg3 Rxe1+ 19. Qxe1 Kf7 20. a3 a5 21. h4 h6 22. hxg5 hxg5 23. Nd2 Qe6 24. Kf1 a4 25. Qe2 Qxe2+ 26. Kxe2 b5 27. f3 Ke6 28. Bf2 Bd6 29. g3 f5 30. b4 Ke5 1/2-1/2 Megaranto,S (2524)-Short,N (2677)/Turin ITA 2006.

 

1... e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. Nd5 Bc5 4. e3 Nf6 5. d4 Nxd5 6. cxd5 exd4 7. exd4 Bb4+ 8. Bd2 Bxd2+ 9. Qxd2 O-O










10. Ne2!?

Benjamin plays the position in a rather adventurous way, since he will now practically have to castle queenside, as in Khalifman's games vs. Kasparov. There are a number of Bird-like games in the database that take a different path:

10. Bc4! d6 (10... c6?! 11. Ne2 cxd5 12. Bxd5 d6 13. O-O Nd7 14. Rfe1 Nf6 15. Bf3 Qb6 16. Nf4 Bd7 17. Re3 Bc6 18. Rb3 Qc7 19. Rc1 Qd7 20. Bxc6 bxc6 21. h3 Rfe8 22. Qc2 Rac8 23. Rc3 Qb7?! 24. Rxc6 Rxc6 25. Qxc6 Qxb2 26. Nd5 Rf8 27. Nxf6+ gxf6 28. Rc3 Rd8 29. Qc7 Qb1+ 30. Kh2 Qb6 31. Qe7 1-0 Andersson,U (2625)-Godena,M (2487)/FRA-chT 9900 2000) 11. Ne2 Nd7 (11... Re8 12. O-O Nd7 13. Nc3 Nf6 14. Bd3 Bd7 15. h3 h6 16. Rae1 Rxe1 17. Rxe1 Qf8 1/2-1/2 Zvjaginsev,V (2654)-Sokolov,I (2706)/Poikovsky RUS 2004) 12. Rc1 (12. O-O Nf6 13. Nc3 a6 14. b4 b5 15. Bb3 Bb7 16. a4 bxa4 17. Rxa4 c6 1/2-1/2 Psakhis Lev-Kramnik Vladimir/Moscow (Russia) 1992) 12... Nf6 13. O-O Bd7 14. Nf4 (14. Nc3 Re8 15. Rfe1 Rxe1+ 16. Rxe1 Qf8 17. h3 1/2-1/2 Reinderman,D (2493)-Landa,K (2600)/Enschede NED 2006) 14... Re8 15. Rfe1 Rxe1+ 16. Rxe1 Qf8 17. Rc1 Qd8 18. h3 h6 19. a3 c6 20. dxc6 Bxc6 21. Qb4 a5 22. Qb3 d5 23. Be2 Ne4 24. Bf3 Qf6 25. Qe3 Re8 1/2-1/2 Reinderman,D (2506)-Bosch,J (2435)/Dieren NED 2007.

 

10... Re8

Perhaps 10... Qh4!?

 

11. O-O-O!? d6 12. Nc3

If 12. Ng3 and 12... Nd7 Nf6 puts pressure on d5

 

12... Nd7 13. g4?!

This weakening of White's structure is simply too risky and makes little sense if Benjamin's strategy is to just gain a draw.

Better 13. Bd3 c5!? 14. Bc2 with about equal chances.

 

13... Nf8 14. f3

Another double-edged move, which at least lays claim to e4. Playable may have been 14. g5!? Bf5 (14... Bd7 15. Bd3) 15. Bb5 Re7 16. Rhe1 or 14. h3!?

 

14... Bd7 15. Bd3 Qh4! 16. Bf5!? Re7

I don't see what Black has to fear on 16... Bxf5! 17. gxf5 Qf6 18. Qc2 (18. Qd3 Qg5+ 19. Kb1 Re3) 18... Re3 19. Rhf1 Rae8

 

17. Rhg1 Rae8 18. Rg3 g6 19. Bc2 Kh8 20. Rdg1

20. Ne4! with ideas like Ng5 and Rh3 or g5 and Nf6 looks promising.

 

20... b5 21. Bd3

Definitely 21. Ne4!

 

21... a6 22. a3 Bc8 23. f4?!

Abandoning control of e4. The critical 23. Ne4 was still possible, but now White will have no pawn control of squares on the e-file.

 

23... Nd7 24. f5 g5! 25. Qg2 Nf6 26. Kc2?

Necessary was 26. Kd2! Qh6! but not 26. Rh3? Re1+!

 

26... Re3! 27. Qd2

27. Kd2 Rxg3 28. Qxg3 Qxg3 29. Rxg3 Bb7

 

27... Rxg3 28. Rxg3 Nxg4

It's all downhill from here. The simple 28... Bb7 also wins material. White isover-extended.

 

29. Ne4 Bxf5 30. Qxg5 Qxh2+! 31. Kb3 Rxe4 32. Qxf5 Qxg3 33. Qxe4 Nf6

Black's two extra passed pawns must eventually triumph, so White can resign at any time. But Benjamin plays on for the team.

 

34. Qf5 Kg7 35. a4 h5 36. axb5 axb5 37. Kb4 h4 38. Bf1 Qe3 39. Kxb5 Qxd4 40. Qg5+ Kf8 41. b3 Ke7 42. Bg2 h3 43. Bh1 Qb6+ 44. Ka4 Qa6+ 45. Kb4 Qf1 46. Qe3+ Kd8 47. Qh6 Ke7 48. Qe3+ Kd7 49. Bf3 h2 50. Qc3 h1=Q 51. Bxh1 Qxh1 52. Qxf6 Qxd5 53. Ka4 c5 54. Qh8 Qd4+

White resigns. An unfortunate outing for an interesting opening line.

0-1

Game Two

IM Lev Milman-QNS (2510) - SM Mackenzie Molner-NJ (2446) [B07]

US Chess League 2009/Internet Chess Club (10) 2009


1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Be3 c6 5. Qd2 b5

A standard reaction to the 150 Attack: Black delays developing the Bishop at g7 and prepares a queenside attack to discourage White from castling long.

 

6. Bd3 Bg7 7. h3 O-O

7... Bb7 8. e5 b4! 9. exf6 bxc3 10. bxc3 Bxf6 11. Bh6 c5!= 1/2-1/2 Zubov,A (2567)-Guseinov,G (2667)/Ohrid MKD 2009 (14).

 

8. Nf3 Nbd7 9. O-O










9... Qc7

A previous Molner game in the USCL continued instead 9... Bb7 10. e5 (10. a4 b4 11. Ne2 c5 12. Ng3 cxd4 13. Nxd4 Nc5! 14. Qxb4 a5 15. Qd2 Nfxe4 16. Nxe4 Bxe4 17. Bxe4 Nxe4= 0-1 Zubarev,A (2491)-Tseshkovsky,V (2504)/Tashkent UZB 2008 (40)) 10... Ne8 11. exd6 Nxd6 12. Bh6 Qb6 13. Bxg7 Kxg7 14. Ne5 Rad8 15. Qe3 Nf6 16. Rfe1 Bc8 17. Qf3 Bb7 18. Qe3 Bc8 19. Rad1 Bf5 20. Qf3! Rc8 21. g4 Bxd3 22. Nxd3 Rfe8 23. Ne5 b4 24. Na4 Qa5 25. Nc5 Qxa2 26. Nxc6 Qd5 27. Qxd5 Nxd5 28. Ne5 Nb5 29. Nf3 Nxd4 30. Nxd4 Rxc5 31. Nb3 Rb5 32. Re5 e6 33. Nd4 Rb6 34. Nxe6+ Rbxe6 35. Rexd5 Rc8 36. R1d2 Rec6 37. Rb5 Rxc2 38. Rxc2 Rxc2 39. Rxb4 Kf6= 1/2-1/2 Braylovsky,G (2359)-Molner,M (2382)/ICC INT 2008 (64).

 

10. Rfe1 b4 11. Ne2 c5 12. c3 bxc3?!

12... Bb7 13. Ng3 bxc3 14. bxc3 c4 15. Bc2 Rfb8 16. Bh6 Bh8

 

13. Nxc3! cxd4 14. Bxd4 Bb7 15. Rac1 Qd8 16. b4 e5 17. Be3 d5?! 18. exd5 Nxd5 19. Nxd5 Bxd5

The opening of lines emphasizes White's superiority in development. And Black's pieces find no security from attack.

 

20. Be2

20. Bxg6! Bxf3 21. Bf5! Bxg2 22. Kxg2 Nb6 23. Qxd8 Raxd8 24. a3

 

20... Nb6 21. Red1 e4 22. Nd4 Qe7

The Queen is subject to attack wherever it goes. No better is 22... Qf6 23. Nb5 Be6 24. Bg5 Qe5 25. Rc5.

 

23. Nb5! Rfd8 24. Rc7 Qe6 25. a3 Bf6 26. Qc1 Na4 27. Rxa7! Rxa7 28. Bxa7 Rc8 29. Qd2 Bb3

 










30. Bg4! Qa6

30... Qe5 31. Bxc8 Bxd1 32. Qxd1 Qxb5 33. Bd7

 

31. Bxc8 Qxc8 32. Qd7 Qc2 33. Re1 Qd3 34. Nd6 Bc3 35. Rxe4

Black resigns. A very fine game by Milman, with no obvious errors by Molner. It might be a candidate for Game of the Week, but it was not especially flashy.

1-0

Game Three

Andrew Ng-NJ (2182) - Elizabeth Vicary-QNS (2106) [B10]

US Chess League 2009/Internet Chess Club (10) 2009


1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nf3 Be7 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bd3 O-O 9. O-O Nc6 10. a3 Bf6 11. Be4

This type of move is played, but it's generally better to set up the Queen and Bishop battery with the Queen in front, leaving e4 open for a Knight and the Queen mobile along the third rank: 11. Bc2 followed in whatever appropriate order by Re1, Qd3, Bh6 (after g6), and Rad1 is a standard isolani piece formation (the pawn at a3 stopping any annoying Nb4 Knight forks). And if 11... Qb6!? to pressure d4, White gets his pieces going with 12. Qd3! g6 13. Bh6 Rd8 14. Rad1 Nde7 (14... Qxb2? 15. Na4) 15. Ne4

 

11... Nce7 12. Qc2 h6 13. Ne5 Bd7 14. Rd1

a) 14. Nxd5 Nxd5 15. Nxd7 Qxd7 16. Be3 Rac8 17. Qb3 Rfd8 18. Bf3 b6 19. Rac1 Ne7 20. Rxc8 Rxc8 21. Rd1 1/2-1/2 Trifunovic,P-Taimanov,M

b) 14. Qe2! with ideas like Bc2 and Qd3 (correcting the battery) or Qg4 (threatening Bxh6) or Qf3 (as in the game) looks more flexible.

 

14... Bc6 15. Ng4!?

Enterprising play. But 15. Nxc6 gaining the two Bishops may be White's safest option.

 

15... Rc8! 16. Qd3 Re8?!

16... Bh4! looks better, opening up a possible f5 push and freeing the Knight at d5 to exchange itself.

 

17. Qf3! Bg5 18. Bxg5 hxg5 19. Ne5 f5 20. Bxd5! Nxd5 21. Qh5 Qf6

21... Nf4 22. Qf7+ Kh7 23. Nxc6 Rxc6 24. Qxb7 Rb6 25. Qxa7

 

22. Nxd5! Bxd5 23. Rac1?!

This move makes it more likely that the Rooks will be exchanged than that they will join the action on the kingside. Best seems 23. Rd3! g4 24. h3

 

23... Red8 24. Ng6

24. Rc3! Rxc3 25. bxc3 followed by Rd3 looks promising.

 

24... Rxc1 25. Rxc1 Bc6 26. Rxc6??

Obviously Ng miscalculated here. Perhaps something along the lines of 26. Qh8+! Kf7 27. Ne5+ Ke7 (27... Qxe5 28. Qxd8) 28. Qh3 and if 28... Kf8 (28... Rxd4 29. Qe3 Rd8 30. Nxc6+ bxc6 31. Qxa7+) 29. Rxc6!? (maybe simply 29. Qc3) 29... Qxe5 30. Qh8+ Ke7 31. Qxd8+ Kxd8 32. dxe5 bxc6 33. Kf1 though the ending looks drawn after 33... Kc7 34. Ke2 c5 35. Kd3 Kc6 36. Kc4 g4.

 

26... bxc6 27. Qh8+?? Kf7 28. Ne5+ Qxe5

Due to back rank mates, White can't take back at d8 or e5. Obviously not 28... Ke7?? 29. Nxc6+ though that must have been all Ng saw in overlooking that the Queen can take. Ouch. Dan Heisman calls that a "quiescence error," because the player stops calculating, simply deciding there is no good move in the position and so he can stop thinking about it.

 

29. Qh5+ g6

White resigns. Ng had a promising opening advantage, so it's a shame he lost due to a single bad error. Chess is so painful sometimes. But a good defensive effort from Vicary.

0-1

Game Four

Fritz Gaspard-QNS (2113) - Arthur Shen-NJ (2107) [B50]

US Chess League 2009/Internet Chess Club (10) 2009


1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3 Nf6 4. Be2 e6

4... Nxe4?? 5. Qa4+

 

5. O-O Nc6 6. d3 Be7 7. Nbd2 O-O 8. Re1

8. d4 cxd4 9. cxd4 Qb6 10. Nc4 Qc7 11. d5 Na5 12. Ne3 b6 (12... Nxe4 13. Bd3! f5 14. Nd4) 13. Bd3 Nb7 14. b4 a5 15. bxa5 Rxa5 16. Bd2 Ra8 17. dxe6 Bxe6 18. Nd4 Bxa2 19. Nb5 Qd7 20. Nc3 1/2-1/2 Rizouk,A (2442)-Simutowe,A (2462)/Cairo EGY 2001.

 

8... b5!?

8... b6 9. d4 cxd4 10. cxd4 Bb7 11. Bd3 Rc8 12. a3 a6 13. Nf1 d5 (probably Black has to play this Frenchy move to keep White from expanding in the center.) 14. e5 Ne4 15. Ng3 Nxg3 16. hxg3 Na5 17. g4 Qd7 18. g3 Bc6?! (18... Nc6 19. Kg2 f6) 19. Bxa6 Rc7 20. Bd3 Ba4 21. Qe2 Nb3 22. Rb1 Rfc8 23. Be3 Na5 24. Kg2 Bc2 25. Rbc1 Bxd3 26. Qxd3 Rxc1 27. Rxc1 Rxc1 28. Bxc1 Qc6 29. Bd2 Nc4 30. Bc3 h6 31. Nd2! 1-0 Gelfand,B-Van Wely,L/Cap D 1996 (53).

 

9. d4 Qb6 10. a4 b4 11. Nc4 Qc7










I rather like White's opening play, but he may have missed his best chance at advantage here.

 

12. Bd3

12. d5! Na5 13. e5 Ne8 14. Bf4 Nxc4 15. Bxc4

 

12... bxc3 13. bxc3 d5! 14. exd5 Nxd5 15. Qc2 h6 16. Na3 cxd4 17. Nb5 Qa5 18. Bh7+?!

18. Nbxd4=

 

18... Kh8 19. Be4 dxc3 20. Bxd5 exd5 21. Nxc3 Bf6!

Black has won a pawn.

 

22. Bd2 Qc5 23. Rac1 Be6 24. Qd1 Qd6 25. Nb5 Qd7 26. Bf4 a6 27. Nbd4 Nxd4 28. Nxd4 Rac8 29. Rxc8 Rxc8 30. Qd2 Qxa4 31. Nxe6 fxe6 32. Rxe6 Qa1+

32... Re8! would have allowed Black to more easily consolidate his material gains.

 

33. Re1 Qc3 34. Qe2 d4 35. Bd2 Qc6 36. h3 Ra8 37. Qd3 a5 38. Qg6 Qa6

38... a4 39. Bxh6! gxh6? (39... Qb5 40. Bc1) 40. Qxh6+ Kg8 41. Re7!

 

39. Re8+ Rxe8 40. Qxe8+ Kh7 41. Qe4+ g6 42. Qd5 a4 43. Bb4 Bg7

Now follow some terrible time pressure blunders by both players.

 

44. Qf7 d3??










45. g4??

45. Bc3 forces mate! Wow, he must be kicking himself after that one. But he was in severe time pressure.

 

45... Qf6 46. Qd5 Qd4 47. Qxd4 Bxd4 48. Kf1 Bb2 49. Ke1 a3 50. Bxa3 Bxa3 51. Kd2 Kg7 52. Kxd3 Kf6 53. h4 Ke5 54. Ke3 Bc1+!

Shen conducts the ending flawlessly. Obviously it is his strength.

 

55. Kf3 Bf4!










56. Ke2 Ke4 57. f3+ Kd4 58. Kf2 Kd3 59. Kg2 Ke2 60. h5 g5

60... gxh5?? 61. gxh5=

 

61. Kh3 Bc1!

61... Kxf3??

 

62. Kg2 Ke3 63. Kg3 Ba3 64. Kg2 Kf4 65. Kf2 Bc5+ 66. Kg2 Bb6

White resigns. A lucky break for the Knockouts that cinches their standing as the best team in the League on game points.

0-1

Help from Chicago

Florin Felecan-CHC (2430) - Slava Mikhailuk-SEA (2437) [B31]

US Chess League 2009/Internet Chess Club (10) 2009


Despite their misfortune, the New Jersey Knockouts could have known before the end of their match that they were guaranteed the best record in the USCL (even if Shen did not win) because Seattle dropped a game in their match with a nice combination by FM Florin Felecan. It was sort of like having Felecan on our team. It turned out that somehow, miraculously, Eric Rosen won his game too. So New Jersey did not even need to show up to gain the number one spot going into the playoffs.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. h3 Bg7 6. d3 Nf6 7. Nc3 Nd7 8. Be3 e5 9. Qd2 Qe7 10. Bh6 f6 11. Bxg7 Qxg7 12. Qe3 b6 13. Nd2 Nf8 14. f4 Qh6 15. Ne2 Ne6 16. O-O O-O 17. Nc4 Nd4 18. Nxd4 cxd4 19. Qg3 exf4 20. Rxf4 Be6 21. Nd2 Rf7 22. a4 c5 23. Raf1 Qf8?! 24. h4 Qe7 25. b3 Raf8 26. Nf3 Rg7 27. Ng5 h6










28. Rxf6!!

1-0

 

A super move! Black resigned because he must enter an absolutely lost ending:

28... Rxf6

28... Bf7 29. Nxf7 Rfxf7 30. Rxf7 Rxf7 31. Qxg6+ Rg7 32. Qxh6

 

29. Qb8+ Qf8 30. Qxf8+ Rxf8

30... Kxf8 31. Rxf6+ Bf7 32. Rxf7+ Rxf7 33. Nxf7

 

31. Rxf8+ Kxf8 32. Nxe6+ Kg8 33. Nxg7 Kxg7 34. Kf2

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