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Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

The Boston Chess Congress, held this Jan. 11-13 at the Hyatt Harborside Hotel, was a successful affair. There were 170 entrants and what were reported to be excellent hotel amenities. The clear victor at the tournament was Chao Li, one of China’s leading players. He dispatched three top New England players and drew with Alexander Ivanov in the last round to win by a full point. Here is his fine win with the White pieces against Jonathan Yedidia.

  

Li Chao vs. Jonathan Yedidia

Boston Chess Congress

Jan. 18, 2013

 

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1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 The Tartakower variation (or to some, “The Fantasy Variation”) of the Caro-Kann which is rarely seen at this level of chess. Alexander Morosevich has tried his hand at it, but that was in 2008. The Russian/Polish/Austrian and French (yes, he had four citizenships) grandmaster Savielly Tartakower played it extensively at the beginning of the 20th century.  3. … e6  4. Nc3 Seems to the safest approach for Black. Knowing very little about this opening, I long thought that 3. ... dxe 4. fxe e5 was best but it seems Black has a real hard time surviving after 5. Nf3 exd 6. Bc4. with White having over a 60 percent winning percentage. In this approach, better is 5. ... Be6 with some advantage to White. 4. … Bb4 The idea is 5…. dxe 6. fxe Qh4+ and if 7. g3 then 7. … Qxe4+ winning as White's knight is pinned 5. Nge2 dxe4 6. fxe4 e5 7. Be3 Qh4+ 8. Ng3 Nf6 9. Bd3  A new move? I can't find any games with this. More common is 9.Qd3. As always in such matters, it is hard to say whether this was pre-game preparation or over board inspiration by Chao. 9. … Ng4 10. Qd2 exd4?  A big mistake. Not only does White get to keep his black square bishop but it now gets a much better diagonal and f4 is now open to White's queen. Li Chao, in his brief notes for USChess.org, comments that best would have been 10. ...NxB 11. QxB Nd7! with one idea of 12. 0-0? exd 13. Qxd Bc5 winning White’s queen. 11. Bxd4 O-O 12. Qf4! A strong move – pinning Black’s knight (h3 may become a threat) and putting pressure on f7.  12. … Rd8 Trying to mix it up when he is way behind in development. This weakens f7 and just helps White take over the d-file, making back rank mates possible. 13. Bc4! Be6 If 13. ... RxB, 14. Qxf7+, leads to mate. 14. O-O-O! (see diagram) Bxc4? Not forced, but it is hard to suggest anything that doesn’t leave White with an advantage, i.e; 14... Qh6 15. QxQ NxQ 16. BxB fxB 17. Nh5 Bf8 18. Rhf1 gives White a solid plus but Black is still playing. This way, Black quickly becomes part of chess history!  15. Nf5 Qh5 16. h3 Nh6 17. g4 Qg6 Black has problems with his queen and with his back rank. Chao now finds a very cute move to take advantage of these tactical weaknesses. 18. Bc5! With the threats of Ne7+ and RxR mate. 18.… Rxd1+ 19. Rxd1 Qf6 If 17... BxB then 18. Rd8+ Bf8 19 Ne7+ leads to mate. 20. NxN+;1-0 As 20. … QxN allows mate in one and gxN drops his queen. A fine game by the Chinese national in only his second US tournament.

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