15 July 2013


Someone at the Spokane Falls Open was asking about the Reti Opening on Saturday morning. I mentioned a Reti Thematic that I had played on ChessWorld a few years ago. My recollection (verified this morning) was that I had placed second in the thematic. The event was an eleven player double round robin with seven days per move. During the event's early months, I spent a lot of time studying the Reti Opening, which was a major part of my repertoire with the White pieces at the time. I scored 14/20, one point ahead of third place. The winner scored an impressive 19.5/20.

In the thematic, the starting position of all games begins with White's third move after 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4. I believe that I tried six different moves from this starting position in the event. If I did not play one of these six, I faced it from the Black side.

I also was the victim of the event's biggest upset, losing with White to one of the players finishing near the bottom of the standings. While reviewing that game this morning, I spotted a key endgame position that I would play differently today with hardly a second thought. Then, I tested my ideas against Rybka 4, drawing the Silicon beast. I also played it against Houdini 1.5, which gave me a slightly easier game.

White to move

Black is set to win a pawn, and there is nothing that White can do to prevent this loss. But, the game itself is not lost.

The game continued:

41.Nb2 Nxc6

Here, I opted to keep my bishop on the board (42.Be8), thinking that it could restrain the advance of Black's pawns. Against Rybka this morning, I gave up the bishop and created a light-square fortress.

42.Bxc6 Kxc6 43.g4 Kd5 44.f3 Bc7 45.Nd3 g6 46.Nb2 f5 47.gxf5 gxf5 48.Nd3

Black to move

Black's extra pawn is of no value. Only the king can capture pawns, and there is no way to evict the knight from d3 when the bishop cannot cover all the dark squares to which the knight can hop. White's king finds safety on e2, where he is untouchable. Rybka played the position out to move 169, where the game was drawn by the Fifty Move Rule. Black's pawns advanced to f4 and h4 to avoid earlier draws by this rule.

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