14 November 2008

Turkey Quads

The Turkey Quads are an annual event at the Spokane Chess Club, but this year is only the second time I've played. Last year had a better turn-out with four full quads. This year there is one quad and a mini-Swiss for the other six players. I am the highest rated player. Last year, I was the sixth seed and placed 2nd in group B. My only win was the subject of the post that initiated this Chess Skills blog. Last night I played Judge Korsmo and had an interesting game.

Stripes,J (1754) - Korsmo,K (1652) [A11]
Turkey Quads Spokane (2), 13.11.2008

The Benko Opening gets its name from Pal Benko's use of 1.g3 at the 1962 Candidates Tournament at Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles. It may transpose into many openings. I play it when I want my opponent to struggle from move one.

1...Nf6 2.Bg2 d5 3.c4
I choose a Réti/English system.

3...c6 4.Nf3 Bg4
This dynamic move pulls me onto less familiar ground. Chris Copeland played 4...e6 in round one of this event. These two games--both this week--are my only recorded OTB encounters with this position, but I have several dozen in my online games database. My scoring percentage with White is poor: 46%, but it has been 50% since 2006, and 53% over the past two years. The improvement reflects growing comfort with positions rich in positional complexity--the sort of game 1.g3 aims to provoke. Judge Korsmo's move has been played against me sixteen times in online games, which includes two quick wins on turn-based sites. The others were blitz.

After the game, I told my opponent that I didn't think this was a particularly good move. I've usually played 5.O-O or 5.cxd4, both of which are more common. I've also played 5.Ne5, which is probably the best move, and one I considered briefly last night. 5.Qb3 has been played in a few high level games, including:

Filippov,V (2621) - Sulskis,S (2545) [A11]
6th EICC Warsaw POL (9), 27.06.2005
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 Bg4 4.c4 c6 5.Qb3 Qb6 6.Qc2 e6 7.0–0 Be7 8.d3 Nbd7 9.cxd5 cxd5 10.Be3 Bc5 11.Bxc5 Qxc5 12.Qxc5 Nxc5 13.Rc1 Bxf3 14.Bxf3 Ncd7 15.Rc7 Rb8 16.e4 Ke7 17.Na3 Rhc8 18.Rxc8 Rxc8 19.exd5 Nxd5 20.Bxd5 exd5 21.Re1+ Kf6 22.d4 a6 23.Kg2 h5 24.h4 g6 25.Kf3 Nb8 26.Kf4 Nc6 27.Nc2 Kg7 28.Re2 f6 29.f3 Kf7 30.g4 Nd8 31.Ne3 Ne6+ 32.Kg3 hxg4 33.fxg4 Re8 34.Rd2 Rd8 35.a4 Rd7 36.a5 Nd8 37.g5 fxg5 38.hxg5 Nc6 39.Ng4 Re7 40.Rf2+ Kg7 41.Nf6 Nxd4 42.Rh2 Kf7 43.Nxd5 Re5 44.Rh7+ Ke6 45.Nc3 Rxg5+ 46.Kf4 Rxa5 47.Rxb7 g5+ 48.Ke4 Nb5 49.Rb6+ Nd6+ 50.Kf3 Kd7 51.Kg4 Nc4 52.Rb3 Ne3+ 53.Kf3 Nf5 54.Kg4 Nd6 55.Ra3 Rxa3 56.bxa3 Nf7 57.Kf5 Kc6 58.Kf6 g4 59.Kxf7 g3 60.Ke6 g2 61.Ne2 Kc5 62.Ke5 Kc4 63.Ke4 Kb3 64.Kd3 a5 65.Ng1 Kxa3 66.Kc3 Ka4 ½–½

5...Qc7 6.d4 Nbd7
This apparently sensible move does not appear in other games in my database.

Objectively, the evaluation of this move should be ?!. 7.cxd5 is better.

7... dxc4 8.Qxc4 Qb6
Clocks: White 1:51; Black 1:55

The d5 square looks to have some importance

9...e6 10.0–0 Nd5

Clocks: White 1:46; Black 1:46

Black has equality according to my engine, but at the board I thought Black's cramped position and uncastled king gave me something to play against. The unplayed 5.Ne5 asks Black to consider the value of the bishop pair. My move here states that I'm willing to give up a cleric and part of my king's cover for a central pawn mass that might get to roll over the top of Black's position.

11...Nxf4 12.gxf4 Be7 13.Kh1
Anticipating that I might want the original f-pawn rolling with the others. Hiarcs 12 has -0.74, but I was enjoying my position during the game.

13...Qc7 14.Ne5

Attacking the queen forces it to move to a better square. Black's brief and slight advantage has vanished. Better for Black would have been 14...Nxe5 15.fxe5 O-O 16.f4 when Black can play against d4 and has no weaknesses.

My opponent told me that he expected 15.Qb3 to keep pressure on e6. My move is more flexible and increases the queen's mobility. Moreover, h3 is available to hit e6 from another angle. As the game developed, h3 proved to be an immensely useful square.

15...Bh5 16.Rac1!
X-ray attacks set up future tactics that force the opponent to burn clock time.

Clocks: White 1:27; Black 1:35

16... f6 17.Qh3 Bf7
17...g6 seems better; I liked the looks of 17...fxe5 18.Qxh5+ g6 19.Qxe5 Qxe5 20.f4+/-. It is clear that my opponent also thought that line would be better for White.

The initiative is critical to success after my decision to trade off my dark squared bishop on move 11. Black's bishop pair will prove unassailable in defense, and victorious in an endgame.


Clocks: White 1:19; Black 1:24

19.d5 exd5
I anticipated 19...Qd7!, when I thought I might try 20.Rfd1. I planned to meet 19...cxd5 with 20.Nxd5!+-

Clocks: White 1:13; Black 1:09

20.exd5 c5
I may not have calculated all of 20...Qxf4 21.dxc6 bxc6 22.Bxc6 Rac8 23.Nd5, but I sensed that the pawn on f4 was safe from any queen forays.

21.Nb5 also looked good

Clocks: White 1:08; Black 0:55

21...Kf8 22.Rfe1 a6 23.Rcd1 Rd8

White has a clear advantage, but how best to press on?

Clocks: White 1:01; Black 0:45

I considered 24.Ne4, which is preferred by my engine. I remembered some comments during the recent World Chess Championship regarding the development of rooks to the third rank via a3. I've brought my rooks into the game in the customary way, but the third rank is still a useful staging area. 24.Rd3 struck me as more flexible that 24.Ne4. I can bring pressure down the d-file, g-file, or h-file depending on Black's defensive choices.

24...Rd6 25.Qe2 Kf7
25...g6 offers better prospects of getting Black's last piece into the battle.

Proceeding according to plan: ever since I played my queen to e6, I've wanted to pull it back and get the bishop there in its stead.

26...g6 27.Be6+ Kg7 28.f5

Clocks: White 0:56; Black 0:28

White's heavy pieces can easily shift to the kingside where the Black king's pawn shield is just as much an illusion as is the absence of a shield in front of the White king.

My opponent thought he might get some counterplay if he could provoke 29.f4 ...

and he played me like a fiddle!

29...Rb6 30.b3 Nd6
Black has improved his position by having the knight and rook trade squares. Both pieces are much better than they were before. Alas, White still has that useful h3 square.

31.Rh3 Rb4 32.Qg4 g5 33.Qh5 Kf8 34.Qh6+

34...h6 leads to checkmate quickly

Clocks: White 0:45; Black 0:19

By this point in the evening, our game is the only one still going. Everyone is watching closely with poker faces while trying to anticipate how I'll finish the game. During the late-night postmortem, Chris Copeland suggested 35.Qg7.

35... fxg5 36.f6 Bf8

I could not decide whether 37.f7+, 37.Qxg5, or the move I played was the most efficient win, so I went for the drama. Hiarcs 12 agrees with my choice.

37... Ne4
My opponent thought later he should have played 37...Re4. Certainly White can go wrong with 38.Rxe4 Ne4 39.Nxe4?? But, I would have played 39.f7+ in a heartbeat if there's no pin on e4.

Now 38.f7+ is best, but I wanted to keep the knight pinned.

38...Rxg8 39.Qxg8 Qf4

Clocks: White 0:37; Black 0:09

Black has a checkmate threat.

40.Qe6+ Kd8 41.Nxe4 Rxe4 42.Qxe4 Qxf6 43.Qe8+ Kc7 44.Rxh7+ 1–0

Next week I play David Griffin, who also won last night. I get Black.


  1. I wonder what you play after 5. ...Qb6?

    The game is played well. Not a bunch of moves but moves with a plan. I was especially amazed by Bg8+.

  2. Hiya,

    Off topic: are you following the Olympics at all?

  3. Hi joco,

    I'm regretting that I'm not following the Olympiad. I've been doing lots of chess most days, but mostly that's been organizational work for youth chess events. I attended two scholastic tournaments last week, both requiring travel, both relating to my role as the organizer and event coordinator for the 2009 Washington State Elementary Chess Championship.