Weekly chess column

In order for a player to play a perfect game, it is likely that his opponent must make some sort of a mistake. Today’s game is Ben Finegold of the St. Louis Archbishops (White) vs. Niclas Huschenbeth of the Baltimore Kingfishers (Black) in the US Chess League. We think that Finegold’s victory involves virtually correct moves throughout the game. However, his opponent supplied the opportunity for perfection by making a positional mistake on the ninth move.

The game is a Slav defense featuring a pin by the king’s bishop vs. White’s queen’s knight. White responded by the preferred move (by Garry Kasparov and most players): Qc2. After some exchanges, Black had the opportunity to occupy d4 with one of his knights. He decided to wait and go for a Queen’s Indian formation. This was his “blunder,” though he lost no material. He gave White an opportunity to defend the d4 square and at the same time attacked Black’s king with Ng5. After that, White’s knight could not be dislodged and White achieved an award from the league for the round’s best game. Odd that this game occurred just after Finegold announced his retirement from playing chess anywhere other than in St. Louis. 

a) This is a known inaccuracy. The correct move here is 9…Nce4.


b) A better defense is 10…Re8, with the point that 11.Bxf6? Qxf6 12.Qxh7+ Kf8 gives Black counterplay against the knight on g5 and the pawn on b2 (13.Qh5 Ke7) as in Haik-Martinovic (1981), although 11.b4 h6 12.Nxf7 Kxf7 13.bxc5 still leaves White comfortably better.

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c) Or 11…Na6 12.h4 Qe7 13.h5 etc. with a clear advantage, as in Toth-Sax (1984).

d) Threatening to fork knight and rook with 14.Qf3, and also bringing the queen into the attack.

e) The dust has settled and it is clear that White has a tremendous advantage thanks to Black’s weak king along the devastating a1-h8 diagonal, plus White’s grip on the d-file and the dark squares.

f) To illustrate the danger of the long diagonal, if 18…dxc4? then 19.Qe5 Qe7 (19…Bd5 20.e4) 20.Rd7! wins.


g) Or 19…Rxh5 20.Rxh5 gxh5 21.e3 and Black’s king shall not long survive unless Black jettisons the knight.

h) Or 21…gxh5 22.Rxh5 with a devastating attack

i)  If 23…Rxh5?? then 24.Qxh5 wins the rook due to all the pins!

j)  It’s hopeless after 25…Qxf6 26.Qg3+ etc. or 25…Rxf6 26.Qg5+ Kf8 27.Bxf6 Qxa3 28.Qg7+ Ke8 29.Qg8+ Kd7 30.Qxf7+ Kc6 31.cxd5+ and White’s attack lands before Black has a chance even to give one check.

Finegold vs. Huschenbeth

US Chess League

Nimzo-Indian Defense

Finegold Huschenbeth

Finegold Huschenbeth

White Black

White Black

1.d4 Nf6

14.Qd4 Kg7

2.c4 e6

15.h4 bxc5

3.Nc3 Bb4

16.Qxc5 g4

4.Qc2 0-0

17.Rd1 (e) d5

5.Nf3 c5

18.Qd4 Rh8 (f)

6.dxc5 Na6

19.h5! Rh6 (g)

7.Bd2 Nxc5

20.Qe5 Rc8 (h)

8.a3 Bxc3

21.e3 Qe7

9.Bxc3 b6? (a)

22.Rh4! Bc6

10.Ng5! g6? (b)

23.Rxg4 Ba4 (i)

11.b4! h6 (c)

24.Rf4 gxh5

12.bxc5 hxg5

25.Rxf6 (j) 1-0

13.Qd3! (d) Bb7