Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Analysis and Summary -- Arizona Scorpions vs. Chicago Blaze

This match was pretty interesting. The games were played at Levon Altounian's house and were supposed to start around 630 PM Tucson time (930 PM ET). Around 6:29 PM our internet went out probably affected by the weather as it was raining in Tucson the entire day. However, everything turned out alright with the internet not out long and the games started slightly late around 6:35 PM or so.

Check out Robby Adamson's summary of the games from the first match below. I wanted to put a little bit of analysis and explanation on some of the games this week as well (in order of how they finished):

Week 1:
Arizona (2.5) ---- Chicago (1.5)

Board 4
Ilan Meerovich (CHC) vs NM Warren Harper (ARZ) 1-0

This game was tough as we had not expected a Saimisch with 6. f3 and instead had reviewed over some lines for 4. e3 as we had seen Ilan play this before. Warren thought for 16 minutes on 8...f5? showing that he did not know this specific line. The main line goes 8...b6 planning to play a quick 9...Ba6. He probably got confused in that after both of the other theoretical moves, 8. Qd2 and 8 dc5 (the main line), Black can play 8...f5. The difference is that in the game White can play 9. e4 immediately and has no problems developing his kingside while also keeping a large center. After 8. Qd2 f5 9. e4 is not possible due to 9...fe4 10. fe4 Qh4+. After this inaccuracy Black seemed very cramped and his pieces did not have good squares. On top of this White had the center. Of course if Warren gets a good opening he is a very impressive player however in this case Warren's position after the opening didn't give him a chance to show this. After 15. e5! Black was already suffering and after some accurate moves by Ilan (16. Qg6 and 17. Qg3) the game ended quickly.

Board 3
FM Robby Adamson (ARZ) vs NM Jon Burgess (CHC) 1-0

This game was very strange all around and to add to this was Robby's terrible time management. Robby had prepared some of this line himself. Despite this Robby was down to 4 minutes while his opponent still had 38 minutes by move 20. However the time control used had a 30 second increment which means that after every move you play 30 seconds is added to your clock. This allows players to play out of their time trouble to some extent.
As he mentions Milov, one of the Kan's experts, has been playing 5...Ne7 recently. I had thought that 7. Nb3 was the common way to play against ...Ne7 in the Sicilian discoordinating the knights but maybe the way Robby played was also promising. Robby was loving his position around moves 15 and 16 however I'm not sure if I share his opinion that "I was winning after 16. g5" as he said at the team dinner afterward. However he did seem to play pretty well having the initiative and attack on the kingside for most of the game. However some of Black's moves (15...Rfe8) were debatable. However after 20...d5 all of a sudden it's not clear where White's attack is going to breakthrough. I was analyzing 23...Qxg6 during the game trying to figure out what White's way to breakthrough was as it seemed to me that White had overextended. I ended up thinking that 24. Rxb7 Nxb7 25. Nc5 was just good for White. Luckily after 25. Qh5 Black completely missed the threat of 26. Rxg7 mating and Robby was able to end the game very nicely. This game was also crucial as it gave the remaining two games some encouragement and in some ways changed the momentum of the match. After that the body language of Lev and Mark seemed much more positive to me.

Board 1
IM Levon Altounian (ARZ) vs IM Jan van de Mortel (CHC) 1-0

This game was the best played game of the match with Lev holding a slight edge for most of the game and really pushing for a win due to the match situation. Lev's aggressive intentions were obvious early when he played 13 h4 instead of playing quieter. The game really heated up when White played 24 b4! playing on both sides of the board. Lev was slightly afraid of 27. bc5 f5!? when after 28 cb6 the position looks good for White but looks very wild. But Black played 27...bc5 very quickly and this was a critical moment. It seems that 28. Nc5 was an innaccuracy as it allows a tactic while first 28. Rb8 Rb8 29 Nc5 avoided this tactic. Warren and I were analyzing, unsuccessfully, in a different room trying our best to understand all the tactics in the position around move 28 trying to piece apart what Levon was doing. We hadn't seen Black's saving idea which both players also missed. After 32 Ne4 Black had 32...Rb8! 31 Qa1 Ra8 32 Qb1 and here Black has a draw with 32...Rb8 (which would have been good for the match situation) or can go for something else with 32...Ra2!. Of course with both players having 2-3 minutes seeing all this was pretty difficult. Anyways after 32...f5? Black is losing after the forced line in the game with the very nice 36. Qb4! attacking f8 and mate on h4 being a nice final touch. After this nice game by Lev the match score was 2-1.

Board 2
FM Mehmed Pasalic (CHC) vs IM Mark Ginsburg (ARZ) 1/2-1/2

This game was the last to finish and was tight the entire way. Arizona needed a draw to win the match and Chicago of course had to win. These two players played fairly recently with Mark drawing with Black that time as well. The opening was well played by both players and even 15...Qc5!? is actually a common idea and is used in these types of positions sometimes when you get the tempo on the knight on d4. Around move 24 Mark offered a draw but at this point it seemed that Pasalic had to go all out for a win in order to save the match for Chicago. After a while the pawn structure stabilized and Black had the two bishops but White was slightly better due to his strong knight on c5. At this point most of the team was watching the match in another room, too nervous to go and look at Mark's game directly. Black lost a pawn on move 47 due to some "sneaky" play according to Mark. However, Black has some chances due to his active rook, two bishops, and the mutual time trouble. Both players had 1-2 minutes left at this point. Both players missed that after 53 Rb3 Black has 53...Ba6! which looks ok for Black after 54. Na6 Rb3 55 Qb3 Qa6. Black didn't play 54...Qb4 due to 55. Qc8 Qb3 56 Qh8 Kg5 57. h4 Kf4 58 Qh6 winning for White.
After 58...Qa7 Black finally got some active moves in with 61...Qf7 (Lev and I were analyzing 61...Qa2 which was also interesting) and 62...Qh5 and and after 65...Qg5 a couple moves later Pasalic had to accept that the position was drawn.

A crazy match ! Stay tuned for more updates as well as many photos which were taken by Amanda Mateer and will be posted by her soon. Thanks go out to Amanda, Ben Marmont, and Pasha Savine for their help in relaying the games and taking pictures as well as to all our spectators.

Until next Wednesday on September 3rd when we play the defending champions, the Dallas Destiny!


Jessica said...

Wow! Congratulations! Those games look really brilliant! Even though I'm in Charlotte, I'm still rooting for you. Good luck in your next round!

Jan van de Mortel said...

Pretty good round up of the match, and oh yeah, congrats on your first victory!

As for my game against Levon, I believe the critical moment was 13.h4! (Black threatens to equalize with Bh3 and Nxd5 followed by Ne7, trading knights and light-squared bishops). Next I spend 30 minutes finding (bad) reasons not to play 13...h5.

White played well until 19.Bd2, where I was expecting 19.Qd2 with the threat of a kingside assault (19...Nc7 20.hxg6 hxg6 21.Bh6), or positional disaster after 19...Nxg5 20.Qxg5 h6 21.Qd2 g5 22.f3 Be6 23.g4 and White dominates.

After 19.Bd2 Black equalized until I got too tempted by the pawn sac with 25.d5 cxd5 26.Bxd5; instead, 25...cxb4 26.Rxb4 d5 27.cxd5 Nxd5 gives Black no problems.

The idea 27...f5 doesn't work because of 28.Bxg7 Kxg7 29.Ng5 Rh8 30.Rxh8 Rxh8 31.e4 and White wins.

Inserting 28.Rxb8 Rxb8 and then 29.Nxc5 is actually bad for White after 29...Qc6 30.Bxg7 Bxg2 31.Rh8 Kxg7 32.Rxb8 Qxc5. White was better until 32.Ne4, where 32.Qc1 g5 (32..Ne3? 33.Ne6!; 32..Nf4 33.Rh2 Rc8 34.gxf4 Qxc5 35.Qxc5 Rxc5 might be defendable) 33.Nb3 (not 33.0-0 Rc8 34.Nb3 Qd7! followed by Qh3 and Rh8) 33...Nc3 34.Rh2 keeps some advantage, although Black is not without chances.

Of course, even though I felt there should be something for Black, I completely missed 32..Rb8 which is better for Black after 33.Qa1 Nc3! when White has to choose between 34.0-0 Nxe2 or sacking the exchange with 34.Qxc3 Rb1. After 32...f5? Black is in trouble, although 33...Rb8 might still be the best: 34.Qa1 Nf6 and White can go different ways (f3, e4 or 0-0).

As for the remaining game on board 2, it seemed to me that after Black gave away his b-pawn, White should not have relocated his light-squared bishop to f3, but instead play 48.Bc6 with the idea Qc4 and b5.

In the game I didn't see why Black couldn't play 50...Bxh3, e.g. 51.gxh3 Rxf3 52.Ne6 Kf7 and White has to start looking for perpetual with 53.Qc8. Anyway Black held on well to secure the draw.

Mark Ginsburg said... has some funny ICC transcripts.

Mark Ginsburg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tom Panelas said...

Congratulations, you guys. You played an excellent match last night.

Of course, we do get a rematch later in the season. See you then.

Tom Panelas
(for the Blaze)

P.S. Thanks for the speedy annotations.

LMartinez said...

Thanks Tom. You guys definitly put up a good fight ! We will see you in Week 9 ! Good luck the rest of the way.

Levon said...

Congratulations on our first win !

You guys have posted very interesting and correct comments about the games including my game with Van de Mortel. I did miss the tactics with Rb8 !! unfortunately. It is very hard to see a move like that when 4 moves earlier there was NO WAY white king could get attacked from the 1st rank. It is probably in a sense also right that my retreat of Bg5-d2 ( my opponent's suggestion ) could may be improved with Qd2 but I was not sure during the game and not sure now. Playing for mate was more exciting. I did however play the "cool tactical Nc5" move only to find out that my "usual" trading and castling probably would have been much nicer and win a pawn in more quite ways. What can I say- If I played it "nice" it might have been up a pawn draw. I play " aggressive" to make sure i win- I miss stuff like that. Maybe I need Topa's invisible computer.

Rich in Phoenix said...

Congatulations Scorpions on your first win in the USCL.

And thanks to the commentary on the games by the players; it helps patzers, like me, understand better why some of the moves, both good and bad, were played.

I'm looking foward to seeing some of Amanda's Photos.

Spence said...

I'm REALLY excited for you guys! Keep it up!
*flashes the AZ sign*

--Spence in Houston, TX

Levon said...

Sad round 2 for us. All was going well, until it collapsed.I think we all learned a lot about how to play and prepare better for the matches from this loss.Hopefully time pressure issue in games will be managed better too.Looking forward to our next win!