Sunday, December 06, 2009

Lawyer Times – Alex Cherniack, BCC 2009 Championship

Every year I play in the Boylston Chess Club Championship, I get beat up black and blue. My game with Lawyer Times in round 7 was no exception – even my lone draw in the Championship was painful! Lawyer and I have been butting heads since high school, and our personal score never hovers much beyond 50%.

Lawyer Times - Alex Cherniack [B00]
BCC Championship (7), 26.10.2009

1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 b6 4.Bd3 Bb7 5.Nbd2 c5 6.c3 Be7 7.e4 d6 8.Qe2 Nc6 9.a3 Qc7 10.0-0 e5 11.b4 0-0 12.d5 Nb8 13.b5 Nbd7 14.c4 g6 15.Ne1 Nh5 16.g3 Bg5 17.Ng2 Rae8 18.f4 exf4 19.gxf4 Bf6 20.Ra2 Bd4+ 21.Kh1 f5 22.Qd1 fxe4 23.Nxe4 Ng7 24.Ng5 Bc8 25.Nh4 Nf6 26.f5 gxf5 27.Bxf5 Bxf5 28.Nxf5 Nxf5 29.Rxf5 Qd7 30.Ne6 Rxe6

My last move of the first time control, and I had no choice but to sacrifice the exchange – otherwise Lawyer’s Knight on e6 would have been too strong.

31.dxe6 Qxe6

White has the advantage, but it is tough to convert. The board is slippery, neither side has trustworthy footholds for their pieces, the Kings are wide open, and none of the moves are easy. The rest of the game was played during the secondary time control of G/45. Lawyer had an extra twenty minutes going in, and during the next couple of moves I spotted him an additional half an hour.

32.Qf1 Re8 33.Rg2+ Kf7

The alternative was 33…Kh8, and Rybka likes it better because of the trick 34.Bh6? Qxf5 35.Bg7+ Kg8 36.Bxf6+ Kf7 37.Rg7+ Ke6. However I didn’t like the prospect of back rank mates.

34.Rfg5 Qe4?!

Stingier and more stubborn is 34...Re7, not allowing White’s Rook a crack on the seventh rank. If 35.Rg7+ Ke8 36.Rxe7+ Ke7 37.Rg7+ Ke8 the Rook has no time to take the a-pawn because of 38.Rxa7? Qe4+.

35.Rg7+ Ke6 36.Qe2


Much better was 36…d5! maximizing the central power of my pieces. After 37.cxd5+ Kxd5 38.Qa2+ c4 Black’s King is perfectly safe. And if 37.Qxe4+ Nxe4 38.cxd5+ Kxd5 Black’s forces are so well placed that I don’t believe White has a win.

37.Rxe2+ Be5 38.Rxa7 Nd7 39.a4?!

At this point I had fifteen minutes to finish the game, while Lawyer still had close to an hour. Had he played 39.Bf4 I would have been forced to resign in a few moves because something has to give with the overloaded Knight on d7: 39..Rg8 (39…Nf6 40.Bxe5 dxe5 41.Ra6 Nd7 42.a4; 39…h5 40.a4) 40.Bxe5 Nxe5 41.Rxh7 Rg4 42.Rb7 Rxc4 43.Rxb6 and 44.Ra6.

39...Rf8 40.Bb2 Rf4 41.Bxe5 Nxe5


Consistent, but one-sided. 42.Rxh7 Rxc4 43.Rh6+ Kd7 44.Ra2 maintains passed pawns on both sides of the board, with excellent winning chances for White.

42…bxa5 43.b6 Rxc4 44.Rb2 Rb4 45.Rxb4 axb4 46.Rc7 Nd7 47.b7 Nb8 48.Rc8


Forced, as both 48…Na6 49.Ra8 and 48…Nd7 49.Rd8 lose on the spot.

49.Rxb8 Kc7 50.Rd8 Kxb7 51.Rxd6


Seven minutes left on the clock, and this impulsive move kicking the Rook should have cost me the game.

I thought that 51...b3 52.Rd1 c4 53.Rb1 Kc6 54.Kg2 Kc5 55.Kf1 Kb4 was an easy win for me during the game and the post-mortem. Upon closer analysis it turns out that White has a draw with exact play: 56.Ke2

56…Kc3 (not 56...c3 57.Kd3 c2 58.Re1 Ka3 59.Kc3 Ka2 60.Rh1+-) 57.Rc1+ Kb4 58.Kd2 b2 59.Re1 Kb3 60.Re3+ Ka2 61.Re5 b1Q 62.Ra5+ Kb2 63.Rb5+ Ka2 64.Rxb1 Kxb1 65.Kc3=.

Fortunately Lawyer played quickly to flag me into making an outright blunder (as Denys Schmelov did successfully in Round 2), and made some less than optimal moves on his own.

52.Rf6 b3 53.Rf3 c4 54.Rc3

This is why 51…Kc7 was such a dumb move. I have no time for 54…b2 because the c-pawn goes with check.

54…Kb6 55.Rxc4 Kb5


Even simpler is 56.Rc7 h6 57.Rc1 forcing the advance of my h pawn up one square. The pawn race then becomes a no-contest.

56...Kb4 57.Kg2 b2 58.Rf1 Kb3 59.Kg3 Ka2 60.Kg4 b1Q 61.Rxb1 Kxb1


Sorry Lawyer, but if you’re reading this you should be kicking yourself, hard. 62.Kh5 Kc2 63.Kh6 Kd3 64.Kxh7 Ke4 65.Kg6 shoulders Black’s King away and wins. To be fair, I didn’t see this either. With less than three minutes left, I was racing the King back to h8 with my fingers crossed. And nobody saw this during the post-mortem, even with Charles Riordan and Carey Theil looking on. However you still had twenty minutes on the clock!

62… Kc2 63.Kg5 Kd3 64.h5 Ke4 65.Kf6 h6

Now I get a thoroughly undeserved draw by a mere tempo.

66.Kg6 Ke5 67.Kxh6 Kf6 68.Kh7 Kf7 69.h6 Kf8 70.Kg6 Kg8 71.h7+ ½-½

God, I hate sudden death time controls!

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