Kenilworth Kibitzer

A blog for members of the Kenilworth Chess Club.

Friday, December 31, 2010


Consultation Game Redux

For some thorough commentary on the recent Kenilworth Consultation Game (#6), see John's thorough analysis here. I figured there'd be no harm to add a few thoughts since, given where they're being written, there's no chance of anyone actually reading them.

For those that missed out, Yaacov Norowitz + ignorant rabble defeated Steve Stoyko & Mark Kernighan +ignorant rabble. Perhaps as expected given Yaacov's meteoric rise to best untitled player in the US (soon going for the world title). But the game itself was quite interesting, with chances for both sides, and the choices perhaps reflecting the tastes of the team leaders. Some key positions:

Here Black played Yaacov's 11....g6, which is a move Yaacov 'invented' even though he does not play the Sveshnikov sicilian. If you have this move in your database your database is better than mine (not unlikely). What to make of this? Black is preparing ...Bg7 and King's Indian style play after ...O-O with ...f5 etc. But it's not in theory so it must be bad!?

Compared to a normal Sveshnikov where the bishop goes to g5 to contest the key d5 square indirectly (knocking off a knight that goes a3-c2-e3), here Black seems to move his bishop to an inactive square and taking an extra tempo to do so. Yaacov's argument was that d5 is just one square and we could afford White that concession because our play was on the kingside. (I happen to disagree, but compare my rating with his and draw your own conclusions). However, ...g6 is generally played anyhow,so the real issue is does the bishop belong on g7 and if not, what can White do about it? Moves that are bad but are not refuted often become good. Yaacov likes this move because it preserves the bishop - and to Yaacov for whom bishops are a terrible weapon, "there is no such thing as a bad bishop".

White has two choices in this position if he is to make something of this positional 'blunder':
1. Take the bishop immediately. 12. Nxf6+ Qxf6 13. Qd2 O-O 14. O-O-O is a poor idea based on winning the d6 pawn, which Black may even choose to sacrifice if he's in the mood. The White king gets smashed quickly on the queenside (see the work of DA Carrelli on this).

2. Let the bishop die a slow quiet death. In the style of Stoyko. Use the extra tempo to attack Black's queenside. White chose the second method in our game, but also burned a lot of clock looking for the refutation. Part of Black's strategy. Playing book moves would only play into White's hands.

Another key point. White has played the slightly anemic 16. Ncb4 and Black replied with the odd ....Bb7?!. Odd especially because we were hoping White would play Ncb4 so we could trade off a pair of knights. But Yaacov didn't like 16. ... Nxb4 17. Nxb4 Bb7? 18. Bd5 when White has a bind. We all missed 17. ... a5! 18. Bd5 Bd7 when Black has no problems.

So now White had an opportunity to play the simple 17. Nxa6 when we intended to play ...f5 and start our activity. Yaacov thought the resulting position roughly balanced, but Fischer is Fischer but a pawn is a pawn. However, characteristically White took a long time for their reply ("Long think, wrong think?"), whereas in our camp the decision to sack the pawn took two minutes because Yaacov was coaching that certain moves must be played and ...f5 was certainly one of those moves. Instead White came up with 17. Qe2? which evaporates his pressure on the queenside.

Finally, the position on resumption:
Anonymous teammates had come prepared with the computer response to White's sealed 31. f4; I had a particularly busy work week so I didn't even examine this possible move, but Rybka's ...exf ep is really counterintuitive. For once Yaacov and I were in agreement that ...Qe6 was the right move to sustain pressure, the passed pawn being a constant threat. (Conversely, try to find without computer assistance the win in the rook endgame resulting from ...exf). In an understandably difficult situation White ultimately crumbled under time pressure.

Finally, unsolicited opinions in response to some of John's provocative thoughts about the format (for anyone who stumbles across this accidentally while looking up the history of Kenilworth, England, please feel free to chime in on the comments section or in person at the Kenilworth, NJ chess club - meets Thursdays at 8pm, please come in the back).

1. Stopped clock for the first 5 moves: I once had the pleasure of watching 14 minutes tick off my clock while my team debated the merits of every possible response to 1.e4. Even a few moves into this game we were debating O'Kelly vs Najdorf vs Sveshnikov vs etc etc. Once we settled on an opening things went smoothly - I like this approach.

2. Time trouble: time is as crucial to these games as in a real game. The teams I've been on are 2-1, the wins coming with good clock management the loss coming with terrible clock management. Coincidence? Maybe, probably not. It's easy to say because we had a blitz superman on our team, but our strategy was to play briskly, maybe missing best moves but trying to play thematic, strong moves. And you will notice this led to an inferior position at points....but only on the board and not in the critical fourth dimension (which is time, for those of you who slept through that part of school). What can be done? You either lengthen the time control (already fairly long), make it a correspondence match (ugh) or accept that time is a crucial factor that must be managed appropriately.

3. Lack of creativity in the openings: Possibly true. Though I think not as bad as was suggested. 3 sicilians in 6 games? Try hanging out at Westfield - you might bat over .600 on sicilians. However, if it's democratic we're going to get a lot of main line stuff - we'll go straight to the common denominator whatever it is. (For the record I voted for 1. ....c6). However, it is ironic that John took offense at robotically following main line theory for 12-15 moves when the 'novelty' was on move 11 ;) As it was, when ...c5 was played I was the one who took the cheerleading role for the Sveshnikov. Do I know the theory that well? No, I was going for something spicy. Incidentally, if White wanted to go out of book he should have tried 9. Bxf6 - I thought Don could cover us on theory there but I may have been mistaken! :0

I think the real pleasure of these games is to hear what the masters have to say - a little insight into their infinite minds. That said, is once a year enough? Make your opinion known!

Happy holidays!!

For the record, 16.Ncb4? was the novelty.
We'll file that under 'your database is way better than mine' ;)

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