Friday, April 3, 2009

2009 Nashua Open

This last weekend I played in the 1st Nashua Open up in New Hampshire. The event was held at the Holiday Inn located at 9 Northeastern Blvd and hosted by a newly organized group called, RELYEA CHESS.

For a small organization, I’d say that their first Nashua Open was a success story. The event was made up of two sections; Open and U1750 and both sections had a field of at least 22 participants. The only shortcoming I noticed at this particular event was the absence of adolescent chess players. If this event is to successfully continue for years to come, then the organization will have to come up with a strategy to promote chess to the youth of southern New Hampshire and get the word out through better communication channels regionally.

Fortunately for me, I had checked the MACA site earlier for local tournaments being played in the month of March and just happened to notice a small announcement for the Nashua Open. I, of course, enrolled in the U1750 section for this particular event, and had quite a successful tournament finishing at 3.5/5; taking the third round as a bye. I even won a little prize money for finishing as top player with a published rating under 1500. I will definitely return to Nashua N.H. to play in the tournament again.

The competition, for the most part, was solid. I had faced off with two opponents holding Class B ratings, and a player with a 1591 rating. My only loss of the tourney came at the hands of Thomas Provost Sr. with a rating of 1707, and I must say, I had him on the ropes for most of the game, but as we shall soon see, gambits aren’t designed for endgames.

Smith,Warner (1553) - Provost,Thomas (1706)
[C52] Evans Gambit Accepted
2009 Nashua Open Nashua N.H.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4
You would think that a much lower rated player would stay away from playing gambits against their stronger opponents. But I love the Evans Gambit and what better way to test your mettle in chess than to do so with the mighty gambit against a stronger opponent!

4...Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 exd4 7.0–0 d6 8.cxd4













Before making this move, I had taken a few minutes to decide between my favorite move 8.Qb3 or the wanting move of 8.cxd4. I wanted to try something different for a change and see what waters I could tread with the obvious and more accurate cxd4.

8...Nf6 9.Qa4
The timing for this move is slightly off and if I may say, a bit awkard. The thinking here is to pin the Knight and then follow up with 10.d5. I've been here before and have played d5 first to move the Knight off of c6 and then follow up with Qa4+. The correct move, however, is 9.e5! If Black follows up with 9...dxe5, then White plays 10.Ba3 and prevents Black from castling.

9...Bd7
A solid move by Black that now forces White to follow up with 10.Bb5 or lose tempo and play 10.Qa3.

10.Bb5 Bb6!
Another good move by Black; the threat of losing his dark squared bishop is no longer and now sits comfortably along the strong a7-g1 diagonal targeting White's weak d4 pawn.

11.e5



The Evans Gambit gives White a lot of play early on, but you have to maintain tempo and keep attacking! Should White let the fire die, so does his chances of getting a win with this opening.

11...a6
Black continues to fight fire with fire...it's his only way to survive in the early going.

12.exf6 axb5 13.fxg7!



Why do I give this just move an exclamation point? Because it accomplishes one of the major themes I play for when playing this opening, and that is to prevent Black from a Kingside castle. A Kingside castle by Black in this opening can be devastating for White because all positional compensation for the gambit is lost.

13...Rg8
Black's only move, anything else just loses.

14.Re1+ Ne7 15.Qc2
The alternative 15.Qb3 was considered, but I believed that I could get more play with 15.Qb2 and focus on a back-door attack to Black's king after a pin with 16.Bg5.

15...Rxg7 16.Bg5 f5 17.d5?



And...the steam runs dry with this less than whiff of a move. White needed to either continue to apply pressure, attack or develop his Queen Knight to keep the wrecking train moving. But, alas, White plays d5. The thought at the time was to open up the a1–h8 diagonal for White's Queen or Bishop and follow up with the idea of applying pressure on King's back rank...ya know, a cozy little spot for White's Queen to visit perhaps. In the end, this move allows Black to gain tempo, clear out White's steam and equalize.

17...Bd4?!
This move is rather dubious and when Black played it, I felt like it was a mistake; an opportunity for White to regain steam and the game's tempo. And I could have done that with 18.Nc3! Its a move I tentatively considered but did not reach deep enough in my analysis to see what opportunities could arise for White. Regardless, I should have, at the very least, considered the simple means of development that this move would give me. Now my Rooks would be connected along the back rank and the Knight is out to wreak havoc.

18.Nxd4
So, I play the safe move against my stronger opponent. Isn't that always the case when you sit opposite a higher rated player? Well, all is not lost with this move and I still like my position.

18...Rxg5 19.Qc3
Still time to play Nc3, but I'm convinced that a1–h8 diagonal is the key to this game! Such infatuation leads to inaccurate play against Black. Moves that grant Black time and resolve to get to an end game.

19...Kf7 20.Ne6 Bxe6 21.dxe6+ Kg8 22.Qf6
Finally making use of this diagonal, but there isn't much light to see here. I'll be honest, I'm just continuing to push an attack whenever I can in hopes of finding some exploitation in Black's play before the end game arrives!

22...Rg6 23.Qb2?
I have no idea what I was thinking here. I just got done explaining White's strategy in his previous move and I had every intention to play 23.Qf7+; continuing to push the envelope whenever I can. I guess I just didn't want to hop off the diagonal...pretty lame huh?

23...c6



Black solidifies his Queen side pawn structure and bides time now that his King is no longer under any legitimate attacks and tucked under the safety of his loyal subjects. Who would you rather be, White or Black? I like Black, I mean...c'mon look at White's pieces tucked away in the lower corner of the board smoking the peace pipe rather than doing the war dance.

24.Nd2
Just can't seem to play Nc3 for the life of me! Must be high from that peace pipe.

24...Qc8!
Black takes advantage of White's sluggish play with his best available move.

25.Nf3 Rxe6 26.Rxe6
I should have tried harder to find a better move. 26.Nd4 offers some interesting play for White, but I'm feeling the engine losing its steam and I'm beginning to feel lazy. The fact still remains, that when you're down material, you don't willingly exchange pieces off the board without compensation!

26...Qxe6 27.Re1 Qd7 28.Qf6



Been here before; now to take advantage of the open g-file and available space around Black's king.

28...Ng6 29.Ng5
The Knight move really doesn't accomplish much here for White and time is running out to make something happen. If anything, this move allows Black to fight for the e-file and force more exchanges. Something White does not want to happen. Better would have been 29.h4 towards moving the Black Knight off of g6. 29...Rf8 30.Qg5 Qg7 31.Re6 Ne5 is a slightly better line for White to undertake.

29...Rf8 30.Qc3 Re8 31.Rd1
Avoiding exchanges...

31...Qe7 32.Nf3 d5 33.Re1 Qf7 34.Ne5?



When I made this move, I had resigned myself to accepting an exchange in hopes of finding some holes in Black's defense to go pawn grabbing. However, this move loses outright, but Black did not see the proper course to take to win this position. Black too, was mentally exhausted by this time in the game. 34...Qg7! pinning the Knight temporarily. 35.f4 Nxf4 36.Qg3 Qxg3 37.hxg3 Ng6 38.Nf6 Rxe1 39.Nxe1 c5!

34...Nxe5 35.Rxe5 Rxe5 36.Qxe5
Funny enough, I got the exchange on my terms thanks to Black's temporary lapse of tactical analysis.

36...Qg7



When Black made this move, I was sure I had a draw...and I initially analyzed the moves correctly to do so; but then I saw a hanging pawn and got greedy...thinking that I could still pull off the draw. Why I did what I did? Who knows...mental wear down perhaps. The correct move to play is 37.Qe6+! Black is then unable to stop White from a bombardment of constant checks.

37.Qb8+
Its the greedy side of me...

37...Qf8 38.Qxb7 Qe8 39.Kf1
And this move only helps Black's cause. Better is 39.h4, a move that could still, perhaps, get us a draw.

39...d4 40.Qb6?
This is the losing move for White. 40.h4 was still a viable move for White to consider.

40...d3 41.Qe3 Qxe3 42.fxe3 c5 43.Ke1 c4
White resigns. 0–1