Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Chess in Staunton, Part Two

For the first part of this tournament report, go here.

Round Three saw me move a little higher up the food chain. Happily, my opponent let his guard down and blundered away a pawn in the opening:

JR (1932) - Edward McLoughlin (1700)

Position After 9. ... Bc8-b7

This came out of an unusual line of the Sicilian Defense. I played 10. Nxb5! which pockets the pawn, thanks to the double attack on the black queen on c7 and the unprotected bishop on b4. This wouldn't have worked a move ago, because at that time my king was on e1, meaning that black could have played Bxd2 with check.

Dismayed by this development, my opponent tried to get his pawn back with 10. ... axb5 11. Bxb4 Bxe4 12. Bxe4 Nxe4, but now it's curtains after 13. Qg4! Black tried 13. ... Qc6 14. Qxg7 Qf6 15. Qxf6 Nxf6 16. Re1. Since black is about to lose the e-pawn, and probably the b-pawn shortly thereafter, he resigned after a few more moves. I was rather pleased with myself, until the computer pointed out to me that 14. Re1 is an even cleaner win.

This set up my final round game against the one master in the event. The game was filled with errors from both of us, and it ended somewhat appropriately with the following double blunder:

JR - Thomas Magar (2200)

Position After 32. ... e5-e4.

This position came after a very complicated middlegame which computer analysis showed was played, well, less than perfectly by both of us. We both had under ten minutes on the clock and we were consequently moving very quickly.

My opponent had just moved his pawn to e4. Play continued 33. dxe4 Qxe4??, which overlooked the reply 34. Re3!, which I promptly banged out. At this point my opponent noticed that the bishop on c5 is covering e3, providing yet another example of the old adage that backward diagonal moves are the hardest to spot. Black had no choice but to go for 34. ... Qxe3 35. Bxe3 Rde7 and now it was my time to return the favor. Incredibly, in my haste I overlooked that 36. Qa2+ gets out of the pin and wins easily. Instead I played 36. Qf3?? and after 36. ... Rxe3 37. Qf7+ Kh8 38. Qd7 R3e7 we agreed to a draw.

This gave both of 3.5 points. Another fellow won in the last round to catch up to us, and the three of us tied for first place.

All in all, a successful weekend. My thanks to the organizers for putting together such a pleasant tournament.


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