Friday, March 02, 2007

Notes from 2006 Paramount

One of the most fun tournaments for me in 2006 was the double-round robin Paramount, held at the Boylston Chess Club. I bring a highlight from my games, just to bring attention to the unique situations the Paramount can offer.

Pre-game prepwork was nothing new for me, but I had never had an adjourned game in 15 years of tournament chess. In Clayton-Rihel, Paramount 2006, I had my first adjourned position, and I was able to turn a depressing loss into a miracle draw, thanks to my home analysis and a little luck.

The following position occured at move 40, when Kyle sealed his 41st move.

Clayton- Rihel adjourned position
White to move

For those playing along at home, this position looks hopeless for Black on almost all White moves. Up a pawn, White cruises with almost any queen move (Fritz calls it +4.7), and I thought about calling Kyle to resign on the spot. Yet, there was one move that looked natural enough to play over the board -- the simplifying 41. Qxg7. When analyzing at home, I saw a faint glimmer of hope in this line.... just a faint one. Given the tense time scramble we had just played, I gave Kyle a 20% chance of playing that very move. When we reconvened later in the week, I vowed that I would resign on the spot if Kyle had sealed any normal move other than 41. Qxg7.

When I sat down over the board and ripped open the sealed move, I was so thrilled to see 41. Qxg7 that I immediately left the board, canceled my dinner plans, and sat down to defend a bad position with my last idea, one cooked up from home.

After the moves, 41.Qxg7 Kxg7 42.Kg2 Nb1 43.Bxc4 Nxc3 44.Kf3 Kf6 45.g4 g5 46.fxg5 hxg5 47.h5 Ke5 48.Ke3 Nd1 49.Kd2 Nf2 50.Be2 Ne4+ 51.Ke3 Nd6 52.Bd3 Nf7 53.Bc4 Nh6, we have reached the following new position:

Clayton-Rihel after 53...Nh6

My idea in full bloom. The whole point of my previous moves was to work my knight to h6, where it hits the pawn on g4 and blockades the position together with my king. This situation was not forced, but even Fritz will often let it happen. I love this position because 1) I worked out this exact idea at home, 2) Without adjournments, I doubt I would have come up with such a cool blockade over the board and 3)Fritz still gives White a large winning advantage, all the way to the end of the game, when a draw is certain.

Kyle tried for many more moves, but cannot make progress:

54.Kf3 Kd4 55.Bb3 Kd3 56.Be6 Kd4 57.a4 Ke5 58.Bb3 Kd4 59.Bc2 Ke5 60.Bd1 Kd4 61.Be2 Ng8 62. Bb5 Nh6 63.Bd7 a5 64.Be6 Ke5 65.Bb3 Kd4 66.Bd1 Ng8 67.Bb3 Nh6 68.Ba2 Ke5 69.Bc4 Kd4 70.Bb5 Ke5 71.Bd7 Kd4 72.Bf5 Ng8 73.Bh7 Nh6 74.Bg6 Ng8 75.Bf7 Nh6 76.Bb3 draw agreed.

Of all my chess games, this one ranks as one of my absolute favorites. It was also a great moral victory (a moral draw?) for me and turned my tournament around. I went on to finish well, including a nice win against FIDE Master Chris Chase.

So, come and play this Monday!

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