The Week in Chess: Miniatures!
I use it for those purposes as well, but sometimes it's fun to look for the odd things that happen during the week, too, like the longest game of the week or the shortest. This week, I decided to see how many decisive games were under 20 moves; to my utter amazement, 35 of the 941 games (actually 36 of 942, but one of the games was clearly short just by virtue of missing moves, not on account of the content) fit the bill! It's hard to believe so many master-level players could falter so poorly, but errare humanum est.
Here are some of the more noteworthy examples:
First, a nice attacking game by De la Paz. White's 13th move walked into the very nice 13...f4!, after which Black's attack worked like clockwork - a very nice model for can-opening a weakened fianchetto position.
Fernandes,R (2226) - De la Paz,F (2466) [E62]
XI Anibal Open Linares ESP (4), 28.02.2005
1.c4 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.Nf3 0-0 5.0-0 d6 6.Nc3 Nc6 7.d4 Bg4 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Bxf3 Nd7 10.Be3 e5 11.Bxc6 bxc6 12.Qd2 f5 13.Rad1 f4 14.gxf4 Qh4 15.fxe5 Qxh3 16.Bf4 Bh6 17.Bxh6 Qg4+ 18.Kh1 Rf5 0-1
The second game is just incredible. The 5.Ng5 line is very well-known, and even most amateurs are aware of the possibility of Nxf7 and Nxe6 sacs. So 8...b6 from a 2269 is really amazing! Maybe he, like Kasparov in the infamous 6th game of his second match with Deep(er) Blue, accidentally inverted his intended move order?
Pavasovic,D (2595) - Zelenika,D (2269) [B17]
12th Metalis Open Bizovac CRO (2), 24.02.2005
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Ng5 Ngf6 6.Bd3 e6 7.Qe2 Be7 8.N1f3 b6?? 9.Nxf7 1-0
Our third game is also instructive, in that it's the sort of disaster that could happen to anyone facing this system against the Pirc. Black should have refrained from the premature queenside expansion with 9...b4, which only served to help White's attacking chances (9...Nbd7 10.Bh6 Qc7 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.Rfe1 e5 was better), and 12...Bxh6 was also rather cooperative. Seemingly small mistakes in a sharp line can add up to disaster!
Reefat,S (2462) - Hasan Md,E (2121) [B08]
31st ch-BAN Dhaka BAN (5), 01.02.2005
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 c6 6.h3 0-0 7.Nf3 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.0-0 b4 10.Ne2 a5 11.Ng3 Nbd7 12.Bh6 Bxh6 13.Qxh6 Re8 14.e5 Nd5 15.Nh5 1-0
Finally, there are the interesting adventures of Ray Kaufman. In round 4 of the Millenium Open, disaster overtook him:
Smith,Bryan (2339) - Kaufman,Ray (2255) [C60]
Millennium Open Virginia Beach USA (4), 27.02.2005
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.d4 exd4 5.Bg5 Bb4+ 6.c3 dxc3 7.Nxc3 Be7 8.h4 d6 9.Nd5 Nf6 10.Qd4! 1-0
Pretty discouraging, I imagine, but sometimes the fickle fates are forgiving - here's what happened in the very next round!
Kaufman,R (2255) - Greanias,S (2164) [D00]
Millennium Open Virginia Beach USA (5), 27.02.2005
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 g6 3.Bxf6 exf6 4.e3 d5 5.c4 dxc4 6.Bxc4 Bd6 7.Nc3 a6 8.Qc2 0-0 9.h4 b5 10.Bd5 Ra7 11.h5 c6?? 12.hxg6 cxd5 13.g7 1-0
Afterword: Kavalek mentions and briefly annotates the Smith-Kaufman game (as well as the Kasimdzhanov-Kasparov game from round 9 of Linares) in the March 6 edition of his outstanding Washington Post column. Worth a look!