Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

Alejandro Ramirez tied with Gata Kamsky for the top in the 2013 US Championship and lost out to him only after three playoff games. Here is a victory of Ramirez in the fourth round against Robert Hess of New York. Ramirez broke open a position from the Semi-Slav defense with a combination that netted him an exchange. He maintained his advantage in a swirl of combinations.

2013 USA Championship, St. Louis

Alejandro Ramirez (2551)

vs. Robert L. Hess (2595)


1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 The Stoltz variation an  “Anti-Meran Slav” attempt. White wants to avoid the tempo loss of 6.Bd3 dxc 7.Bxc b5 lines.  6. …b6 6. …Bd6 keeping an eye on e5 is by far the more popular move here, but “Deep Junior” chose this move against Kasparov in their 2003 match. 7.Bd3 Bb7 8.O-O Be7 9.b3 O-O 10.Bb2 Rc8 11.Rad1 Qc7 12.Ne5 This knight is a real monster here and combined with the forthcoming open f-file will make it hard for Black to defendf7. 12.Rfd8 Loek van Wely tried 12. … h6 against Vladimir Kramnik at Corus, 2007 but he didn’t last long after: 13.Qe2 Rfd8 14.f4 c5 15.cxd Nxd5 16.Nb5! Qb8 17.Nxd7 RxN 18.f5 Bg5 19.fxe6 fxe6 20.Qg4 Re7 21.Qe4; 1-0, 40.  13.f4 c5 14.Qe2 This all has been played before in the game Floreau v. Aliev, Calicut (Kozhikode, India),1998 but black played differently with 14. … Ba6 a sensible move trying to exchange off White’s dangerous bishop. The game was drawn 34 exciting moves later. 14. …dxc4 15.bxc4 Nf8?! This could be the source of Black’s problems as the knight is really not well placed here. Better is 15. …cxd 16.bxc a6.  16.f5 White has made progress in his attack – pressure on f7 will become very hard to deal with.16. …cxd4 17.exd4 a6 Can’t take the d-pawn due to Nb5 so he plays a6 to threaten Rxd4 but this could be too slow. 18.fxe6 Nxe6 19.Nd5! After this White’s small advantage becomes very big.  19. …Bxd5 Forced as after 20. …Qd6 21. Bh7+ should win: i.e.; 21. …NxB (if 21. …Kxh7 then Qh5+ and RxN wins) 22.Nxf7 Qd7 23.Nxb6but now White has a very active bishop. 20.cxd5 Rxd5 21.Bxa6 Rcd8 22.Rc1 Qd6 23.Rc6! Qb4 Only square.  24.Bc4!? The silicon monster prefers 24.RxN fxR 25.Nc6 Qd6 26.NxR BxN 27.Bc4 with a much bigger advantage than in the game. 24. …Nxd4 White wins after 24. …Rd6 25. BxN fxB 26. Rc7 Nd5 27.Nc6 25.Bxd4 Rxd4 26.Nxf7 With lots threats revolving around the discovered check. 26. …Bc5! (Diagram) Black’s only chance is to muddy the water. 27.Nxd8+ Rxc4+? Much better was 27. … QxB 28.Qe6+(27.QxQ is less convincing …27. … RxQ 28. Kh8 Ne4 29.g3 Rc2 with Black having enough play to hold the position.) 28. …QxQ 29. NxQ Rd6+ 30. RxB bxB 31. Nxc5 White has a lot of work to do to win this pawn up endgame. Now, Black finds himself just an exchange down. 28.Kh1 Re4 29.Qf3 Re1 30.Re6 Rxf1+ 31.Qxf1 With the threat of 32.Re8+ Bf8 and 33.Ne6 winning. 31. … h5 Luft is always good. 32.Re2 A good consolidating move. Now, the knight heads to e6. Bd6 33.Ne6 Qh4 34.g3 Qa4 34. …Bxg6 is answered by 35. Qg2. 35.Qf3 h4 36.Ng5 hxg3 37.hxg3 Qb5 38.Qa8+ Bf8 39.Ne6 Picking on the pinned bishop. Nd7 40.Rf2 Qb4 41.Nxf8 Nxf8 42.Qd5+ As its mate in 5 after 42. …Kh7 or mate in three after 42. …Kh8, Black gave up; 1-0. Very good technique by Ramirez.