Two games from Gambito 236

In preparation for the big tournament next weekend (Northern California state championship, A section), I have annotated two of my four games from last weekend’s tournament. The other two games were, in my opinion, less interesting.

Leonard Sussman (2087) vs. Simon Rubinstein-Salzedo (1708), round 2

1. c4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 g6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. Nf3 d6 6. d4 Nc6 7. d5 Ne5

Usually this position is reached after both sides have castled, but I expected 8. Nxe5 dxe5 9. 0-0 0-0, which transposes back.

8. Nd2?! 0-0 9. 0-0 a6?!

My candidate moves here were 9…a6 and 9…g5, and I opted for the cautious option since I wanted to play Qe8 as soon as possible after g5. But I think that g5 is just a better move: after 9…g5 10. f4 gxf4 11. gxf4 Ng6, black has a very comfortable position and probably a bit of an edge already.

10. f4!

Now I will have a lot of trouble ever playing g5.

10… Neg4 11. Nb3 Qe8 12. h3 Nh6 13. Nd4 Nh5

I figured I might as well stir up some trouble on the kingside, but perhaps 13…e5 is slightly better.

14. Kh2 Kh8!

I would like to play 14…e5, but unfortunately that loses immediately to 15. dxe6 Bxe6 16. Nxe6 Qxe6 17. Bd5.

15. Qd3 Rb8 16. Be3 e5

I think this is the right time. I was hoping for 17. fxe5, when after Bxe5 black is perhaps a little better. But I felt I would be fine after 17. dxe6 as well.

17. dxe6 Bxe6 18. Nxe6 Qxe6 19. Be5 Qe7

I was still hoping to support the g5 break at some point, but it was not to be.

20. Bd4 Nf6 21. Bg2 Nf7

If I want to have any chance to survive, I have to get this knight to some decent location. A possible method is Nf7-d8-e6.

22. Rae1 Qd7 23. e4 fxe4 24. Nxe4 Nxe4 25. Bxg7+ Kxg7 26. Qxe4

White would now like to get at least one rook on the 7th rank, so I thought up two ways of dealing with it. One was 26…Qa4, trying to win a few pawns on the queenside in exchange for white’s piece activity. The other was 26…c6 with the idea of 27. Qe7 Qf5, allowing the queen to move around on the 5th rank. I decided that the second option was preferable.

26…c6 27. Qd4+ Kg8 28. Bf3!

I completely overlooked the strength of this move. I think I was in some sort of a trance with my plan (get the rooks off the board and then black is better in an endgame due to the power of the queen and knight combination). So I played the very bad move 28…Rbe8? rather than 28…Nh6!, after which I really doubt that white has any advantage at all. In the postmortem, my opponent and I failed to find any line that was at all convincing after Nh6. White’s best chance is probably to push pawns on the queenside with 29. b4.

28…Rbe8? 29. Bg4! Qc7 30. Be6

Oops. I think this is already completely lost for black, but my next move didn’t help matters much.

30…Re7 31. f5! Rxe6

After 31…gxf5 32. Rxf5 (threatening Rg5#) h6 (Rd8 33. Rg5+ Kf8 34. Qg7+ Ke8 35. Qg8#) 33. Qf6, black will get checkmated in a few moves. Other moves did not look much more promising. I was counting on the line 32. fxe6 Ne5 33. Rxf8+ Kxf8 34. Qf4+ Ke7 to save me, and I calculated that after 35. Rxe5 dxe5 36. Qf7+ I could play Kd6 (since Kd8?? loses to 37. Qf8#), but I was too short on time at this point to find 37. c5+, winning at once.

32. fxe6 Ne5 33. Rxf8+ Kxf8 34. Qf4+

I decided to check that line once more, but this time, I did not miss 37. c5+, so I chose another line. My opponent told me after the game that he didn’t see that line at all and would have played Rf1, which also looks winning, but not quite as easily.

34…Kg7 35. Rf1 Qe7 36. c5! h6 37. cxd6 Qxd6

If 37…Qxe6, then 38. Qf8+ Kh7 39. Qe7+ Qxe7 40. dxe7 wins.

38. Re1

I was thinking about resigning here, but I decided to play a fun line before doing so.

38…Qd2+ 39. Qxd2 Nf3+ 40. Kh1 Nxd2 41. e7 Black resigns.

Simon Rubinstein-Salzedo (1708) vs. Daniel Grazian (1583), round 4

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Qh4

Supposedly this move doesn’t lose, but I can’t understand why anyone would want to play it. I prepared for this move carefully before the tournament, so I was happy to get a chance to use my new line.

5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Be2 Qxe4 7. N(d)b5 Kd8

The normal move is 7…Bxc3+ with 8. bxc3 Kd8, but I think this line is reasonable as well.

8. 0-0 Qh4?

I think this loses material by force. At the least it allows white wins back the pawn with a huge lead in development and far better king safety.

9. g3! Qf6

9… Qh3 loses to 10. Bg4, and my response would have been no different after 9…Qe7.

10. Nd5 Qf5 11. Nbxc7 Rb8 12. Bd3!

Black now has two square for the queen: h3 and e5. I was expecting 12…Qe5, after which I had prepared 13. c3! Ba5 14. Bf4, trapping the queen.

12…Qh3 13. Nf4 Qh6 14. Nfe6+ dxe6 15. Bxh6 Nxh6 16. Nb5

It doesn’t take long for black to be checkmated in this position, down in material and with a king stuck in the center of the board.

16…e5 17. a3 Bc5 18. Bf5+ Ke7 19. Bxc8 Rbxc8 20. b4 Rcd8 21. Qh5 Bb6 22. Rad1 Rc8 23. Qg5+ Ke6 24. Rd6#


About Simon

Hi. I'm Simon Rubinstein-Salzedo. I'm a mathematics postdoc at Dartmouth College. I'm also a musician; I play piano and cello, and I also sometimes compose music and study musicology. I also like to play chess and write calligraphy. This blog is a catalogue of some of my thoughts. I write them down so that I understand them better. But sometimes other people find them interesting as well, so I happily share them with my small corner of the world.
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