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Chess Notes: Northern California International 2012: Shankland v. Meier

Samuel Shankland, a student at Brandeis University, continues his winning ways with a triumph at the 2012 Northern California International. He has the white pieces in this seventh-round game against the German grandmaster Georg Meier. Shankland had taken the tournament lead in the sixth round. He won this game against Meier, and drew his last two games to hold first place.

Meier plays a Nimzo-Indian defense. On the eighth move he manages to create isolated double pawns, but his ninth move, apparently a computer move, is surprising in view of the fact that Shankland will clearly fianchetto his king’s bishop and pin the queen’s knight pawn. Shankland’s 15th move virtually assured his acquisition of an exchange, after which a queenside passed pawn caused his opponent’s resignation.

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a) The alternative is 7.Qd3 Bxc3+ (or 7. . .Qa5) 8.bxc3 Nc5 with sharp play.

b) This plan does not work out well for Black, to say the least. An obvious alternative is to play 9. . .O-O 10.Bg2 Nc6.

c) Perhaps 13. . .Ne5 was worth consideration, with the idea of meeting 14.Qa3 with 14Nc4.

d) Given how naturally this position has resulted from 9. . .a6, it is hard to understand what Black had in mind with his opening play. At any rate, Black virtually has to capture the knight at this point since 15Qb8 16.Nd6 followed by R(a)b1, R(f)d1 is absolutely horrible for Black.

e) White has successfully consolidated the extra exchange, so the win at this point is purely a matter of good technique, which White admirably displays.

f) Horrible, but Black needs to stop Ra8 and the subsequent exchange of rooks.

Annotations by grandmaster Patrick Wolff, a two-time US champion.

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