Finally. After nearly an entire season of frustration, the Tennessee Tempo broke into the win column Wednesday night in the US Chess League against the Miami Sharks. We couldn't have been more successful in our new role as spoilers as the loss puts last season's league runners-up in danger of missing the playoffs.
I sat out again this week and we went with a lineup of Burnett, Andrews, Wheeler, and Larson. We caught a huge break that several of the Miami players were playing in a tournament in Puerto Rico including their MVP-candidate GM Julio Becerra. They essentially had the same lineup as our first match with them except that all of their players moved up a board and expert Luis Barredo filled the 4th board.
Jerry got the first win for us as Black on Board 3. His opponent, FM Torres, got a bit overextended in the opening and ended up sacrificing a pawn. It didn't seem like he ever really full compensation for it. However, White was still in the game, and as the clocks started to run down, Tempo Nation was a bit on edge when Jerry finally got some good luck after 33...Qa2
34. Qg3?? 34. Nc5 and the passed d-pawn still gives White counterplay 34... Qb1+ 35. Kh2 Qxe4 36. Rc7 Rd8 37. Ra7 Nc5 38. Re7 Qf4 39. Rxe5 Qxg3+ 40. Kxg3 Nb7 [0:1] . This was a huge win as Ron and Todd both looked to have better positions.
On board 1, with Black against IM Moreno Roman, Ron got a pretty much equal position out of the opening and then just outplayed his opponent in the middle game. He had several ways to deal the final blows after 29. g3
29...d2 On the ICC, I was calling for 29... Rxf3 which wins a piece after 30. Qxf3 Rb1+ 31. Kg2 d2 32. Rd7 d1=Q 33. Rxd1 Rxd1 34. Qxd1 Bxe5 Ron's move is just as good 30. Kg2 Black wins the queen after 30. gxf4 Rb1 and it's a pileup on the knight on 30. Nxd2 Rd4 31. Re2 Qd3 30... Re4 31. Rd7 Rxe5 32. Nxe5 Qe4+ 33. Qf3 Qxe5 34. Qd3+ Qf5 35. Qd4 e5 36. Qa7 Qe4+ 37. Kh3 g4+ 38. Kh4 Qg6[0:1]
On Board 2, Todd's had White against NM Espino. I think Espino made a bad choice by repeating the same variation of the Modern that he had played against me in our first match. Todd quickly built up a huge position and his opponent gave up an exchange to try to make things messy, but Todd still had a huge plus after 34...gxf5
After 35. Qxc4 White should still be well on the road to victory, but unfortunately Todd decided to interpose the move 35. Rab1? which turned out to be disastrous after 35...Qe2 36. Qxc4 Qg4+ 37. Kh2 Ne5 with an overwhelming attack.
That left everything up to Gerald on Board 4. His opponent had a nagging edge through most of the middle game and controlled the only open file in the major piece ending after 24... Raf8
Gerald dug in and slowly neutralized Black's threats 25. b3 Qb5 26. Qe2 Qb6 27. Rf1 c5 28. Qe3 cxd4 29. cxd4 Qa6 30. Rxf5 Rxf5 31. a4 h6 32. Re1 Rf8 33. Re2 Qc6 34. Rf2 Rxf2 35. Kxf2 with all the rooks off, the danger has passed. Barredo kept on playing because of the match situation, but didn't really come up with anything before the position repeated three times 35...Qc2+ 36. Kg1 a6 37. h4 Kh7 38. Kf1 Kh8 39. Ke1 Kg8 40. Kf1 Qb1+ 41. Kf2 Kf7 42. Qf3+ Ke7 43. Qc3 Qf5+ 44. Kg2 Qe4+ 45. Kf2 Kd7 46. Qb4 Ke8 47. Qc3 Kd7 48. Qb4 Ke8 49. Qc3 Kd8 50. Qa5+ Ke8 51. Qc3[½:½] and there was much rejoicing. It had to be quite satisfying for Gerald to clinch our first team win versus the team that had given him a rough introduction to the USCL back in week 3.
The Tennessee Tempo were officially eliminated from playoff contention last night in the US Chess League with a loss to the Western Division leading San Francisco Mechanics. As horrible as our record was there was still a mathematical possibility of making the playoffs with a complete turnaround, but in the past couple of weeks we realized this was looking inevitable. We had a new lineup this week. After my atrocious performance last week, I was benched and for the first time the Tempo featured an all Nashville lineup with Burnett, Andrews, Wheeler, and Gainer Phay. The Mechanics, who had already clinched a playoff spot went with a weaker lineup than the first time we played them, but still a formidable one with IMs Friedel, Pruess, and Zilberstein, with the young player Shankland manning the 4th board. I didn't make the 5 hour round trip to Nashville this week and just watched the events from home in Knoxville. Unfortnately, the new lineup didn't bring a new result and we went down for the 7th time in 8 matches.
I thought Gainer was doing fine in his debut on board 4. The position out of the exchange French was pretty level after 19. f4 although White had a huge lead on the clock. Here, things went quickly and horribly awry
19...Rxe5?! since Black can't follow this with ...Ne4, it unnecessarily concedes time and space to White 20. fxe5 Re8 21. Rf1 Nh7 22. Nh5 Bc8? a blunder in a difficult position 22...Nf8 gets hit by 23. Nxg7 Kxg7 24. Qg3+ Ng6 25. Rxf7+ Kxf7 26. e6+ winning the queen 23. Qg3 g6 24. e6 1:0
The only rematch for our first match with the Mechanics was on Board 1 between Burnett and Friedel. They followed a Palatnik-Kasparov game through 14...Rxd6
15. Qh5 Sam played 15. Qc2 against the Boss but lost. It seems that White should be better with 2 bishops and an extra pawn, but his development lags and he has queenside weaknesses. Black seemed to have enough play even after sacrificing an exchange after 15... Nc6 16. Be2 Be6 17. Bd2 Rxd2 18. Kxd2 The game ended in a draw after 18...Qf6 19. Rhd1 Qxf2 20. Qf3 Qh4 21. Qf4 Qxf4 22. exf4 Nd4 23. Bf3 Nb3+ 24. Ke3 Re8 25. Kf2 Nxa1 26. Rxa1 Rc8 27. Rd1 Kf8 28. Rd2 b6 29. Be4 Ke7 30. Ke3 g6 [1/2:1/2]
Jerry played a line against Zilberstein's Kings Indian that doesn't score too well in the database. Things got ugly after Black uncorked the shot 18...Ng4!
19. Be3 positional capitulation. For better or worse, I think he had to take it with 19. hxg4 Qxf2+ 20. Kh1 Qxg3 21. Re2 Be5 22. Qg1 Qh3+ 23. Rh2 The rest was an execution 19... Nxe3 20. fxe3 Be5 21. Kg2 Rf6 22. Qe2 Raf8 23. Rf1 Rxf1 24. Rxf1 Rxf1 25. Kxf1 Bxg3 26. Kg2 Be5 27. Bb3 Qd8 28. Qg4 Kg7 29. Kf3 Qf6+ 30. Ke2 Bxc3 31. bxc3 Qxc3 32. Bxe6 h5 [0:1]
The most interesting game of the match was Board two Preuss-Andrews. Todd lost a pawn in the opening and his compensation seemed pretty nebulous. However, after some inaccuracies by White, Black regained his pawn and was looking good after 26...Nhxg2
27. f3 f5 I expected 27... Rgh6 here or on the next few moves 28. exf6 gxf6 29. a4 f5 30. Re5 a6 It seems like Black still has an edge after 30...Nd3 31. Kxg2 Nxe5 32. dxe5 f4 but White has some compensation 31. axb5 axb5 32. Ra1 Kb7 33. b3 cxb3 34. Nxb3 Now White has counterplay against Black's king 34...Nh4 35. Nc5+ Kb8 36. Kf2 Nh3+ 37. Ke2 f4 spurning the repetition 37... Nf4+ 38. Kf2 Nh3+ 38. Nge4 Rg2+ 39. Kd3 Surprisingly Black doesn't seem to have a way to finish off White's king here and now the Black king gets into some hot water 39...Nxf3 40. Rxe6 Rd8? 41. Re7 Ne1+ 42. Rxe1 f3 43. Rb7+ Kc8 44. Ra1 [1:0]
It was another frustrating and puzzling night for the Tennessee Tempo last Wednesday in the US Chess League. We had our first out of conference match against the East-leading Boston Blitz. On paper, it looked like it should be a fairly competitive match. Boston did not use their double-barreled GM lineup of Christiansen and Perelshteyn and we outrated them on the bottom two boards. However, in the end we were left once again scratching our heads trying to figure out how we had yet again barely avoided getting swept.
The week started a bit ominously as late Sunday night I came home to find a message on my answering machine from commissioner Greg Shahade hoping that he had found the right phone number for me as he hadn't received our lineup from Todd yet and was unable to contact anyone at the numbers he had. I checked my email and saw that the situation had not been resolved so without further information sent in our top 4 lineup. The delay resulted in a 5 minute penalty on all of our boards and would have been a 15 minute penalty if it had been much later.
The time didn't seem to be a problem, though, as we all quickly caught up on the clock. Ron looked to have a fairly even position versus GM Christiansen on Board 1, but blundered a pawn to a simple tactic in the ending. FM Kelleher sacrificed a pawn in the opening against Todd on Board 2 for some pressure. He got the pawn back and kept the pressure. Todd gave up another pawn and it looked like Kelleher was on the road to victory when he stumbled into perpetual check giving Todd his first half-point of the season. It like something went wrong in the opening for Jerry on Board 4 versus NM Krasik, but he managed to stir up some chances before finally going down.
I had White on Board 3 against NM Charles Riordan. This was my worst game in a long time, I was totally unrecognizable. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 O-O 5. Bg5 b6 6. Nd2 Bb7 7. f3?! This doesn't work out too well with Black's dark-squared bishop on the board. Better is the normal 7. e3 as played in this position by Kasparov with h6 and Bh4 thrown in. If White is in the mood for adventure, he could try the speculative sacrifice 7. e4 h6 8. Bh4 g5 9. Bg3 7... h6 8. Bh4 d5 9. a3 Be7! see the note to White's 7th move. 10. e3 c5 11. dxc5 bxc5 12. Qb3 Bc6 13. Be2 Nbd7 14. O-O d4 15. exd4??
A total lemon after which White is pretty much lost. I had intended 15. Nd1 when White's position is still nothing to write home about but decided to throw in the capture first in order to have b2-b4 available. I just totally blanked out the fact that his pawn on c5 was preventing Nd7-c5. 15... cxd4 16. Ncb1 Now, White loses a piece after 16. Nd1 Nc5 17. Qc2 d3; 16. Nce4 Nxe4 17. Bxe7 Nxd2 is also horrid. The engine suggests 16. Bxf6 when all of Black's recaptures look pretty good and he will have the bishop pair on top of all of his other pluses. The rest of the game needs no comment. 16... Nc5 17. Qa2 a5 18. Bf2 Rb8 19. b3 e5 20. a4 Nfd7 21. Qc2 Bg5 22. Re1 Be3 23. Bxe3 dxe3 24. Nf1 Nxb3 25. Ra3 Nd4 26. Qc1 f5 27. Nxe3 f4 28. Nf1 Nxe2+ 29. Rxe2 Qb6+ 30. c5 Qxb1 31. Qc4+ Rf7 32. Rd2 Qb4 33. Qa2 Nxc5 34. h4 Bxa4 35. Rd6 Bb3 36. Qa1 a4 37. Qc1 Ne6 38. Rc6 Nd4 39. Rc8+ Rf8 [0:1]
The Tennessee Tempo started the second half of the US Chess League season last Wednesday with a loss to the Dallas Destiny. We had high hopes for this match as Dallas was the only team we have scored against so far this season. Todd Andrews was back in the lineup on board 2 after sitting out a week, so I was back to my usual third board with Ron Burnett again manning the top slot. Based on his victory the week before, Gerald Larson earned another shot on Board 4. Both Todd and Gerald had attacking chances against their opponents kings, but neither turned out to be enough. Ron looked to have a very promising position after an exchange sacrifice, but only managed perpetual check. I sacrificed a pawn in the opening and seemed to have full compensation throughout, but my opponent defended well and may have had some chances in the ending.
My opponent this week was FM Igor Schneider. I had White and we blitzed through the opening moves. 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. e4 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Qxd4 7. Bxb4 Qxe4+ 8. Be2 Na6 9. Bc3 Ne7 10. Bxg7 Rg8 11. Bc3
He really slowed down after this move. Undoubtedly he was prepared for 11. Bf6 which I had played against his brother Dimitry in a tremendous struggle at the 2002 US Masters. 11...Qxg2 12. Qd2 Qg5 Declining the challenge of 12...Qxh1 13. 0-0-0 with an attack 13. Nf313. Qxg5 Rxg5 was another alternative followed by developing the knight with tempo to either f3 with a further eye on e5 or d2-e4 or to h3 with the idea Nf4-h5 hitting f6. 13... Qxd2+ 14. Nxd2 Nc5 15. b4 Na4 16. Be5 Ng6 17. Rg1 f5 18. O-O-O 18. c5 was a suggested improvement with the idea of keeping Na4 out of the game and potentially playing Nc4-d6 18... c5 19. b5 Bd7
20. Bh5 It looks like a better way to preserve Be5 is 20. Rg3 O-O-O 21. Rdg1 and White also keeps the bishop pair and Rg3 can swing along the third rank 20... Ke7 21. Bxg6 Rxg6 22. Rxg6 hxg6 23. Rg1 Be8 24. Kc2 a6 25. bxa6 Rxa6 26. f4 Nb6 27. Kb3 Nd7 28. Bc3 Rd6 29. Kc2 Nf6 30. h3 b5 This seems a bit premature, why give up the g-pawn? 31. cxb5 Bxb5 32. Rxg6 Nd5 33. Be5 Nb4+ 34. Kd1 Rd3 35. Rg7+ Kf8 36. Rh7 Rg3 37. Rh8+ Kf7 38. Rh7+ Ke8 39. Nb3 Rg1+ 40. Kd2 Rg2+ 41. Kd1
41...Rxa2 41... Nd3 looks like the last chance to push for a win, now the game dries up 42. Nxc5 Be2+ 43. Ke1 Nd3+ I thought he might try a last trap 43... Rc2 44. Nxe6?? Nd3# but 44. Bd6 is fine 44. Nxd3 Bxd3 45. Rh8+?! Declining his draw offer. My clock was very low here, so I thought I'd play 2 quick moves to gain a minute, but this lets his king out. Better was 45. h4 but it is still a draw. 45... Kd7 46. Rh7+ Kc6 47. h4 Kd5 Now I have to take a small bit of care that he doesn't just walk to e3. 48. Re7 Re2+ 49. Kd1 Rh2 50. Bf6 Be4 [½:½]