Saturday, May 4, 2013

Excitement in the DC Chess League

This season I'm playing for the Arlington Kings in the DC Chess League. They have been great to me every season that I've played with them, with a break in the middle to play for a company team last year. Last November, after being reintroduced by my team captain as someone whom he had had never seen lose, I promptly blundered away the first match of the season and we get killed 4.5-1.5. Neither the team nor I haven't lost since. Going into last night's match I had scored 4.5/6 on the season and the team's record was up to 5-2 and a 4 way first place tie.

I was set to play board two against the Passed Pawns (there aren't a lot of non-cheesy chess team names). Their top board two, Sabina Foiser is currently playing the US Women's Championship, so I figured that I would play one of two Masters and prepped accordingly. At this stage in my chess career preparing for an opponent mostly means checking their recent games on and a database of DC area players, then finding something I'm comfortable with against their common systems. This method works because I never have time for serious analytic opening preparation and because sharp new systems can backfire if the opponent has found improvements since their last game in my database.

I noticed that my opponent, Steve Greanias played non-theoretical Grunfelds as black, so I passed on my usual lines and prepared by reading a short chapter in GM's Alex Yermolinsky's book "The Road to Chess Improvement" where he discusses the question "What Good are Central Pawns Against the Grunfeld." He illustrates strategies for white when black misplays the opening, so it ended up being excellent study material, when we got out of theory early on.

 Being the first time that I'd played this variation, I didn't find an accurate set-up against his unusual double fianchetto in the opening. I managed to gain extra space, but he had a great opportunity to make the position double edged and Grunfeldy (maybe not a word) by undermining my big center on move 15. Instead he spent three moves with his queen to capture my a-pawn. At that point, I had a big center and his king was the only black piece right of the c-file. I set up a piece sacrifice and by move 20 black has to walk a tightrope to equalize. He missed the clever defensive maneuver 20...Qc2 21.Nxf7 Qc3 (I missed it too) and I was able to tear apart his kingside. Overall, a fun and educational game. To make things even better, the team won 5-1, sending us to a one match playoff to decide the league title. I'll let you know how that goes.

The full game with comments is below.

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