NJKOs Lose to NY Knights in 2009 USCL Semi-Final

The New Jersey Knockouts saw their US Chess League championship hopes dashed again by the New York Knights, who have now been responsible for ending NJ's season three years in a row. As always, the games were tightly contested, but the fact that New Jersey had draw odds meant that New York had to fight especially hard on every board. They succeeded early in the evening in scoring a point on Board Four, thanks to Kenilworth Chess Club champion Yaacov Norowitz, and so New York was content to claim draws on every other board and win the match. However, both Benjamin and Ippolito missed potentially game winning moves that could have changed the final story. Better luck next year, when Norowitz will not be able to play on Board Four for New York! The games are annotated below.

Board One

GM Joel Benjamin-NJ (2641) - GM Georgi Kacheishvili-NY (2666) [B12]

US Chess League 2009/Internet Chess Club (12) 2009


1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 Qb6!?
If Benjamin had been going for surprise value with the Fantasy Variation, then Kacheishvili definitely turned the tables with this move.

 










More standard are 3... e6 and 3... dxe4 4. fxe4 e5. I could find very few games with 3...Qb6 yet it definitely seems to contain some tricky tactical lines.

 

4. Nc3 dxe4 5. fxe4 e5 6. Nf3

Perhaps one idea behind Black's approach is 6. dxe5?! Bc5! 7. Nf3 (7. Na4 Qb4+ 8. Nc3 Qb6=) 7... Bf2+ 8. Ke2 Be6

 

6... exd4 7. Qxd4

One sign (besides the amount of time he was using) that Benjamin was not prepared for this line is his choice to play it safe here and exchange Queens. White has had more success with the tactically complicated 7. Nxd4! Bc5 8. Na4 Qa5+ 9. c3 Be7 10. b4 Qe5 11. Bd3 Nf6?! (11... Bxb4! 12. Ne2 Bd6 13. Bf4 Qe7 14. O-O) 12. O-O!  O-O 13. Bf4 Qh5 14. Qe1 Re8 15. Qg3 Nbd7 16. e5 Nd5 17. Nf5 Bf8 18. Bh6 g6 19. Bxf8 Nxf8 20. Nd6 Re7 21. Rae1 b6 22. Ne4 Qh6 23. Nb2 b5 24. Bc2 Be6 25. Bb3 a5 26. bxa5 Rxa5 27. Nd3 Kh8 28. Ndc5 Raa7 29. Nd6 Qg7 30. Qf2 Ra8 31. Qd4 Nc7 32. Qh4 g5 33. Qd4 Ng6 34. Nxe6 Nxe6 35. Qb6 1-0 Vitiugov,N (2555)-Janjgava,L (2479)/Sevan ARM 2006.

 

7... Qxd4 8. Nxd4 Bc5

8... Nf6 9. Bg5 Nbd7 10. Bc4 h6 11. Bh4 Ng4 12. Bb3 Nc5 13. O-O-O Nxb3+ 14. cxb3 Be7 15. Bxe7 Kxe7 16. Rd2 Ne5 17. Nf3 Ng6 18. Rhd1 Be6 19. Ne2 c5 20. Ng3 Rhc8 21. Nf5+ Kf8 22. Nd6 Rc7 23. Nb5 Rcc8 24. Nd6 Rc7 25. Nb5 1/2-1/2 Golizadeh,A (2233)-Benidze,D (2318)/Batumi GEO 2006.

 

9. Nf5!

9. Nb3 Bd6 10. Bg5 Nd7 11. O-O-O Be5 12. Nd4 Ngf6= 0-1 Jackova,J (2331)-Chiburdanidze,M (2502)/Elista RUS 2004 (29).

 

9... g6 10. Be3 Bxe3

10... Bb4 11. Bd4!

 

11. Nxe3 Be6 12. Nc4

12. Bc4!

 

12... Bxc4 13. Bxc4 Nd7= 14. O-O Ne5 15. Bb3 Rd8 16. Rf2 Ne7 17. Raf1 Rf8!?

17... O-O=

 

18. Ne2 Nc8 19. Nf4 Ng4 20. Rf3 Ne5 21. R3f2 Ng4 22. Rf3 Ne5 23. Rh3 Rd4?!

23... h5 24. Nd3 Nxd3 25. cxd3 Nd6=

 

24. Rxh7 Nd6 25. Nd3! Rxe4 26. Nc5 Re3 27. Rd1 Ke7 28. h3 b6 29. Kf2! Nf5










30. Nd3?!

As noted by several strong kibitzers on ICC, Benjamin likely missed a win by attacking the Rook's protector with 30. Be6!! bxc5 31. Bxf5 Nc4 32. Bxg6 Re6 33. Bf5! Nxb2 34. Rb1 Rf6 35. g4 Nc4 36. Rb7+. This was definitely the most critical "lost opportunity" on Board One that could have changed the match.

 

30... Nxd3+ 31. cxd3 Re5 32. d4 Re4 33. d5?!

33. Bc2 Rf4+ 34. Kg1

 

33... c5 34. Kf3 Re5 35. Rd2 Nd6

35... Kd6! and Nd4+, Nxb3 and Rxd5

 

36. Bc2 Kf6 37. g4! Nc4 38. Rf2 Rxd5?!

38... g5!

 

39. Kg3+ Ke6 40. Bxg6! Nd6 41. Bc2 c4 42. Rh6+ Ke7 43. Re2+ Kd7 44. h4 c3 45. bxc3 Rc8 46. Re3 Rdc5 47. Rd3 R8c6 48. Bb3 Ke7 49. Kf4 b5 50. h5 a5 51. Re3+ Kf8 52. Rd3 Ke7 53. Re3+ Kf8 54. Bd1

54. Rh8+! Kg7 55. Rd8 a4 56. Bc2 Nb7 57. Rdd3 Rc4+ 58. Kg3

 

54... Rc4+ 55. Kg5??

55. Kf3 Kg7 56. g5 Rxc3 57. Rxc3 Rxc3+ 58. Kf4 Rc4+ 59. Ke5! Rc5+ 60. Kd4 Rc4+ 61. Ke5=

 

55... Ne4+?

55... R6c5+! 56. Kh4 Nf5+

 

56. Rxe4 R4c5+ 57. Kh4 Rxh6 58. Rf4 Rd6 59. Bb3 f6 60. Rf3 a4 61. Bc2 b4

61... Rd2!

 

62. c4 Ra6 63. Rf1

63. h6

 

63... Kg7 64. Rb1 Rxc4!

This move seems to guarantee a draw, which would win the match for New York.

 

65. Bd3 Rac6 66. Bxc4 Rxc4

The best White can hope for here is a draw, which seems the likely result.

 

67. Rd1 f5! 68. Kg5 Rxg4+ 69. Kxf5 Rg2 70. Rd4 Rxa2 71. Rxb4 Kh6 72. Kg4 Rg2+ 73. Kh4 Rh2+ 74. Kg4 Rg2+

Benjamin may have been dreaming of 74... Rxh5?? 75. Rb6+

 

75. Kh4 Rh2+

Game drawn by mutual agreement

1/2-1/2

Board Two

GM Pascal Charbonneau-NY (2560) - IM Dean Ippolito-NJ (2535) [C48]

US Chess League 2009/Internet Chess Club (12) 2009


1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. Bb5 Nd4 5. Bc4 Bc5

Ippolito eschews the boring 5...Nxf3+ which would have declared his intention to play for just a draw. Obviously he was playing to win. And Charbonneau was certainly not ducking complications, as he could do with the simpler 5.O-O, "denying Black his fun."

 

6. Nxe5 Qe7 7. Nf3

One of the first well-played computer games (by the Black side anyway!) continued instead 7. Bxf7+? Kf8 8. Ng6+? hxg6 9. Bc4 Nxe4 10. O-O Rxh2!! ("They're here!" said Mike Valvo and Ken Thompson, eerily presaging the famous line from the 1982 movie Poltergeist) 11. Kxh2 Qh4+ 12. Kg1 Ng3 and mate is unavoidable: 13. Qh5 gxh5 14. fxg3+ Nf3# 0-1 Blitz-Belle/ACM 1975.

 

7... d5! 8. Bxd5!? Bg4!

John Emms gives the simpler 8...Nxd5 9.Nxd5 Qxe4+ 10.Ne3 Bg4 as good for Black, but players have been trying for more with this move.

 

9. d3 O-O-O

All current theory so far. There is at least one good example of a successful White queen sac in this line, and perhaps Charbonneau had it in mind: 9... c6 10. Bb3 Nd7 11. Be3 Ne5 12. Nxd4!! Bxd1 13. Nf5 Qf8 14. Bxc5 Qxc5 15. d4 Qb4 16. Rxd1 Ng6 (16... g6!) 17. Nxg7+ Kf8 18. Nf5 a5 19. a3 Qb6 20. O-O Rd8 21. e5 Rg8 22. f4! Ne7 23. Nd6 Nc8 24. Nxf7 Rxd4 25. Kh1 a4 26. Nxa4 Rxd1 27. Rxd1 Qf2 28. Ng5 Rg6 29. Nxh7+ Ke7 30. Ng5 1-0 Motylev,A (2651)-Shirov,A (2726)/Bastia FRA 2004 (44).

 

10. Bc4!?

 

 

This seems a bid at improvement for White, making it difficult for Black to open lines without a sacrifice here. But Ippolito was either well prepared or ready to sac!

 

Previous games contined 10. Be3 Nxd5 (10... Rhe8?! 11. Bb3 Bxf3 12. gxf3 Nh5 13. f4 Qh4 14. Bxf7! Nxf4 15. Bxe8 Nxc2+? 16. Qxc2 Bxe3 17. Bb5 a6 18. Bc4 b5 19. Bd5 b4 20. Nd1 Bb6 21. Qc4 1-0 Howell,D (2624)-Jumabayev,R (2548)/Puerto Madryn ARG 2009 (31)) 11. Nxd5 Rxd5 12. exd5 Re8 13. c3 Nxf3+ 14. gxf3 Qh4!! 15. Kd2 Rxe3! 16. fxe3 Qf2+ 17. Kc1 Bxf3 18. Qe1 Bxe3+ 19. Kb1 Bxh1 20. Qxh1 Qe2 21. a4 Qxd3+ 22. Ka2 Qc4+ 23. Kb1 Qd3+ 24. Ka2 Qc4+ 25. Kb1 1/2-1/2 Vallejo Pons,F (2650)-Dominguez,L (2638)/Cuernavaca MEX 2006.

 

10... Nxe4!!

Ippolito does not back down from the challenge! This is definitely the best way to break through in the center. Black also seems to get play by 10... Bxf3 11. gxf3 Nd7 12. f4 (to stop Ne5xf3 -- 12. Nd5 Qh4 or 12. Bf4 Nb6 13. Bb3 Qf6 are also fine for Black) 12... Nb6 13. Bb3 Qh4! (or possibly 13... f5!?) with at least sufficient compensation.

 

11. Nxe4 f5 12. Bg5 Qe8 13. Nxd4!?

A fascinating practical decision! White gets compensation, but it is not exactly clear how much. Other lines look dangerous for White, but it is difficult to see a way clear to the end.

a) 13. Bf7 Qxf7 14. Nxc5 Qd5

b) 13. Bxd8 fxe4 14. dxe4 Qxe4+ 15. Kf1 Rxd8 16. Ng5 Qf5 17. Qd2 h6

 

13... Bxd1 14. Nxf5 Bg4

Things stay very murky after this. Ippolito definitely could have had an advantage by 14... Bxc2! 15. O-O Qe5 16. Bxd8 Rxd8 which seems like the most important missed opportunity in this game.

 

15. O-O

15. Nxg7?! Qg6 16. Bxd8 Bb4+ 17. c3 Rxd8 18. cxb4 Qxg7 19. O-O Qxb2

 

15... Bxf5 16. Nxc5 Rd6 17. Rfe1 Qc6

17... Qg6! looks better.

 

18. Re5 Bg6?!

White is probably already taking over the initiative, but better might be 18... h6!? or 18... Re8!? 19. Rae1! (19. Rxf5 g6).

 

19. b4! Re8 20. Rae1

Even stronger is to keep the Rooks on by 20. Be7!

 

20... b5 21. Rxe8+ Bxe8 22. Be6+ Kb8 23. Bg4 Bf7 24. Re7 Qd5 25. h4 a5?!

25... Qxa2

 

26. Nd7+! Rxd7

26... Kb7?? 27. Bf3

 

27. Rxd7 Qxa2 28. Bf4 Be6 29. Bxe6 Qxe6 30. Rxc7 Qg4!?

This seems like a very good try for counterplay which actually succeeds. Other moves are easier for White to handle.

a) 30... Qe1+ 31. Kh2 Qxf2 32. Bg3 Qd2 33. Rxg7+

b) 30... Ka8 31. Be3

 

31. Rf7+ Ka8 32. bxa5 Qd1+ 33. Kh2 Qxc2 34. a6! Qxd3 35. Rxg7 b4 36. Rb7 b3 37. Be5 Qe4!

Ippolito puts fresh obstacles in White's way -- 37... Qxa6?! 38. Rxb3 simplifies White's task.

 

38. f4! Qe3!? 39. Rxh7

39. h5 Qd3 40. h6 Qd1 41. Kg3 Qb1

 

 

39... Qf2?

Ippolito misses the stunning 39... b2!! 40. Bxb2 Qxf4+ 41. Kg1 Qe3+ 42. Kh1 Qe1+ 43. Kh2 Qe5+!! 44. Bxe5 DRAW! And there is no escaping this line via 40.Rb7 Qe1 (threatening to queen) 41.R or Bxb2 Qxh4+ and Qe1+ etc. If the game had ended that way, it would not have changed the outcome of the match but there would be no question that both players would be sharing the Game of the Week prize!

 

40. Kh3 Qe3+ 41. g3 Qe4 42. Rb7?!

A draw was sufficient for New York to win the match, but Charbonneau could have preserved winning chances with

42. Rf7! controlling f5 and preventing the perpetual.

 

42... Qf5+ 43. Kg2 Qe4+!?

43... Qc2+! is easier, but this way actually creates opportunities for White to go wrong, and it may be that Ippolito was trying to continue the game. If so, Charbonneau declines and accepts the perpetual check.

 

44. Kf2 Qc2+ 45. Kf3

45. Ke3!? Qc1+ (45... Qc5+) 46. Ke4 Qc4+ 47. Kf5 Qd3+ 48. Kg5 (48. Kf6?? Qxa6+) 48... Qxg3+ 49. Kh5 Qd3 50. Rb8+ Ka7 51. Kh6 Kxa6 52. h5 Qf5.

 

45... Qd3+ 46. Kf2 Qd2+ 47. Kf3 Qd3+ 48. Kf2 Qd2+ 49. Kf3 Qd3+

Game drawn by repetition. A fascinating and hard fought struggle despite the errors by both sides.

1/2-1/2

Board Three

SM Mackenzie Molner-NJ (2446) - NM Matt Herman-NY (2275) [B96]

US Chess League 2009/Internet Chess Club (12) 2009


1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Nc6!?

This leads to wildly tactical play, at which both players excel. However, based on their use of time in the opening, Herman clearly had the better preparation.

 

8. e5! h6 9. Bh4 g5 10. fxg5 Nd5 11. Nxd5 exd5 12. exd6 Bxd6 13. Qe2+ Kf8 14. O-O-O Nxd4!?

Black can also equalize with 14... hxg5 15. Bf2 Qf6 16. Kb1 Be5 17. c3 (17. Qd2 Kg7 18. Be3 Nxd4 19. Bxd4 Bxd4 20. Qxd4 Qxd4 21. Rxd4 Be6= 1/2-1/2 Zambrana,O (2478)-Ziska,H (2416)/Dresden GER 2008 (39)) (17. Qf3?! Bxd4 18. Bxd4 Qxf3 19. gxf3 Nxd4 20. Rxd4 Be6 1/2-1/2 Baramidze,D (2569) -Dominguez Perez,L (2683)/Khanty-Mansiysk RUS 2007 (107)) 17... Bxd4 18. Bxd4 Nxd4 19. Rxd4 Bf5+ 20. Ka1 Re8 21. Qd1 Be4 22. Rd2 1/2-1/2 Kokarev,D (2603)-Makarov,M (2511)/Dagomys RUS 2009.

 

15. Rxd4 hxg5 16. Be1!?

White does not seem to get anything either from 16. Bf2 Be6 ( Black can even risk mixing it up with 16... Bf5!? 17. Qd2 Be4 18. Bd3 Bxg2 19. Rg1 Rxh2 20. Rg4 Be4 21. Bxe4 dxe4 22. Rxg5 Qf6 23. Rf5 Qe6 24. Qd4 Ke7 25. Ra5 Rah8 1/2-1/2 Sukandar,I (2275)-Mas,H (2372)/Singapore SIN 2007 (58)) 17. Rd1 Rc8 18. Qf3 g4! 19. Qb3 g3! 20. Bd4 Rxh2 0-1 Huschenbeth,N (2416)-Yilmaz,M (2432)/Pardubice CZE 2009 (40).

 

16... Bf5!? 17. Bc3 Rc8!

Very aggressive play! Black has interesting attacking ideas along the c-file, with Rxc3 always in the air.

 

18. g4










18... Be6?!

A rather quiet and safe choice which allows the game to peter out to a draw with White a slight favorite due to Black's worse structure. If Black were trying to generate a winning attack, he should really consider keeping the Bishop aimed at White's King.

 

a) 18... Rxc3! interests me most: 19. gxf5 (19. bxc3 Be4 20. Bg2 Qb6! 21. Kd2 (21. Bxe4? Bf4+) 21... Bf4+ 22. Ke1 Qc5 23. Kf1 Qxc3) 19... Rc4! 20. Rd1 (20. Rxc4?! dxc4) 20... Qa5 21. Kb1 Ra4! 22. a3 Rhh4!

 

b) 18... Bg6!? is also logical and good, making Black's King feel more secure as well.

 

19. Bb4 Bxb4 20. Rxb4 Qc7 21. Qf2

21. Qd2!

 

21... b5 22. h3 Rh6 23. Bd3

23. Bg2! Rf6 24. Qd2 Qg3 25. Rb3 Qf2 26. Rd1

 

23... Qc5 24. Qxc5+ Rxc5 25. Kd2 Ke7 26. Ke3 Kd6 27. c3 Bd7 28. Rd4 Rc8 29. Be4 Bc6 30. Bg2 Re8+ 31. Kf2 a5 32. Rhd1 Rf6+ 33. Bf3 a4 34. a3 Re5 35. R1d3










Game drawn by mutual agreement. Neither player can really make progress here, though White has some pawn breaks and might keep playing "for the team." However, Herman had a very considerable time advantage and Molner would be most in danger of going wrong. New Jersey was lucky to get a draw on this board.

1/2-1/2

Board Four

SM Yaacov Norowitz-NY (2354) - Sean Finn-NJ (2114) [A04]

US Chess League 2009/Internet Chess Club (12) 2009


1. d4 g6 2. Nf3 Bg7 3. e3 Nh6!?










This is a tricky way to handle Norowitz's favorite Zukertort Anti-KID system with b3 and Bb2. With the Bishop's diagonal open, Black can meet b3 with c5 and then pressure the pinned d-pawn with Nc6 and Nf5!

 

4. g3!?

So Norowitz switches things up. The players are left completely to their own resources.

 

4... O-O 5. Bg2 f6!?

Finn continues his creative opening play, which seems designed to counter his opponent's style. Black will fight for the dark squares, which are always Norowitz's favorite squares as White playing 1.d4. The simpler 5... d5 with the idea of rerouting the knight via Nf5-d6 looks viable.

 

6. e4 Nf7 7. O-O

Delaying castling and playing 7. h4!? is an interesting idea now or in reserve.

 

7... e5 8. c4 d6 9. Nc3

9. b3?! f5!

 

9... Nc6 10. Be3 f5?!

This opening of the position risks handing White an easy edge based on space and superior piece position alone. There must be better tries:

a) 10... exd4 11. Nxd4 Nfe5 12. c5! Nxd4 13. Qxd4 dxc5 14. Qxc5

b) 10... Bg4! 11. d5 (11. dxe5?! Ncxe5) 11... Ne7 12. Qb3!? Bc8! would bring about a more closed KID type position where Black's pieces on the kingside are well placed -- though White would have his standard queenside play as well.

 

11. dxe5 Nfxe5?!

Safer 11... dxe5! 12. Qxd8 (12. Bc5 Re8) 12... Nfxd8 13. Nd5 Ne6 14. Ng5 Nxg5 15. Bxg5 Rf7 16. exf5 Bxf5 with good chances of equality.

 

12. Nxe5 Bxe5 13. Qd2 Bg7 14. Rad1 Qf6 15. Nd5! Qf7 16. b3 fxe4 17. Bxe4 Re8

 










White has a clear advantage based on his excellent Knight outpost at d5 and control of space. Black has no good way of generating counterplay with his pawns and must resort to adventurous piece excursions.

 

18. Bg2 Ne5?!

Black should try 18... Kh8 19. h3 Bf5 20. f4 Be4 trying to e liminate the dangerous Bishop before trying to double Rooks on the e-file.

 

19. f4! Ng4 20. Bd4 Bxd4+ 21. Qxd4 c6

Going for the Knight fork at e3, but White easily prevents that.

 

22. h3!

Also good is 22. Rfe1! Be6 (22... cxd5? 23. Rxe8+! Qxe8 24. Bxd5+ Be6 25. Re1) 23. Nc3

 

22... cxd5 23. Bxd5 Be6 24. hxg4 Bxd5 25. Qxd5! Qxd5 26. Rxd5 Re3

Black is completely busted -- soon to be two pawns down -- and must continue his attempts at tricky piece play.

 

27. Kg2 Rae8 28. Rf3!? Re2+ 29. Rf2 R2e3

29... R2e6 30. Rfd2

 

30. Rxd6 Rc3 31. Kh3 Ree3 32. Rg2 g5 33. fxg5!?

White's tripled pawns prove a surprising tactical asset!

 

33... Re1?!

33... Rcd3! getting rid of one Rook would reduce White's attacking chances.

 

34. Rdd2!? Kg7 35. Rd7+ Kg6 36. Rgd2 Rg1??










36... Kxg5 seems to avoid mate at least.

 

37. R2d6+ Kxg5 38. Rg7#

Black checkmated. A very nicely conducted positional game by Norowitz. White seemed completely in control from beginning to end.

 

1-0

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