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    Chess Notes

    Weekly chess column

    Today’s game, Ray Robson, born in Guam, raised in Florida, an extraordinary young player, vs. Yury Shulman, Belarusian American Grandmaster, is a long one but offers a full menu for the spectator. First, a wild opening, sacrifices in the middle game and a virtually endless rooks v. rook and knight endgame.


    2013 US Chess Championships, Saint Louis

    Ray Robson (2620) vs. Yury Shulman (2570)

    1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.exd5 The Exchange French. Not seen very much these days. Long thought to give White nothing but from time to time, it has its surprise value. 4...exd5 5.Bd3 Many years ago (1964 to be exact), the always enterprising, Bent Larsen, tried 5.Qf3 against Portisch and won very quickly when Portisch went wrong in the opening with 5…Nc6. Instead, 5…Qe7+ pretty much put 5.Qf3 out of business as White gets nothing. 5…c6 Much more popular is 5…Nc6. c6 is a little too passive. 6.h3 Qf67.Nf3 Bf5 8.O-O This all has been seen before. In those games, Black played the sensible 8. …h6 to safe guard the queen but now, Black tries something new. 8…Bxd3? Automatic and careless 9.cxd3!!Shockingly, Black is lost after this capture but Black’s slow development, king in the center and weak queenside all add up to a winning advantage for White and after only 9 moves!  9…Na6 What else? 9...Ne7 drops an exchange and a pawn after 10. Qb3 BxN 11. Qxb7. The computer’s favorite: 9…Qd8fails to 10.Qb3 Qb6 11, Na4 Qb5 12.a3 Ba5 13.QxQ cxQ 14. Nc5 Nc6 (if 15…b6 then 16.Nb7 with the threats of Nd6+ and b4 wins.) 15. Nxb7 winning a pawn and with a much better game. Shulman puts up heroic resistance in a very difficult position. 10.Re1+ Kf8  Sadly required as 10. … Be7 will leave Black king stuck in the center and 10. …Ne7 runs into 11.a3! Bd6 (11…BxN 12.Bg5!) 12.Qb3 Rb8 13.Re2 which forces 12…Kd8 and Black is much worse shape on d8 than on f8. 11.Ne5 Threatening 12. Ne7 mate  11…Qd812.Bg5! Can’t be taken – Ne7 is still mate. 12…Be7 13.Qb3!? The computer much prefers 13.Qh5. Black now could try 13…f6 14.Qxb7 Qc8 15.Qxc6 QxQ 16.NxQ fxB 17.Nxd5 with much better chances for survival. 13…Rb8 14.Bxe7+ Nxe7 15.Qa3 With the idea of Nxc6! 15…Kg8 16.Nd7Qxd7 17.Rxe7 Qd8 18.Rae1 h5 19.Ne2 Nc7 20.Ng3 Nb5 21.Qc5g6 22.a4 Nd6 23.Qxa7 Ra8 24.Qc5 Rxa4 25.h4 Kg7 After some tight moments, Black seems to have stabilized his position but he is still in trouble 26.Qc1! Heading to g5 will all kinds of threats. 26… Rxd4 27.Qg5 Rg4? 28.Nxh5+! Winning the exchange but 28. Qe5+ seems stronger. However, this still should win but as we see many moves later, nothing’s certain. 28…Rxh5 29.Qxg4 Nf5 30.Rxb7 Rxh431.Qe2 Qf6 32.Rb8 White starts to lose the thread. A better approach starts with 32.Qe6 and then to double rooks on the 7th rank. 32…Nd4 33.Qe8 Qd6 34.Qg8+ Kf6 35.Qd8+ Qxd836.Rxd8 Rg4 37.Kf1 Rh4 38.Kg1 Rg4 39.Rd6+ Kg7 40.Ra1 Nf3+41.Kf1 Nd2+ 42.Ke2 Nb3 43.Ra8 Rb4 44.Kd1 Nd4 45.Kc1 Kh646.Rd7 Ne2+ 47.Kc2 Rf4 48.Kd2 Nd4 49.Ke3 Kg5 50.Raa7 f6 51.Rh7 Nc2+ 52.Ke2 Nd4+ 53.Kf1 Nf5 54.Ke1 Rb4 55.Rhb7 Rh4 56.Rh7 Rb4 57.Rhb7 Rh4 58.Ra6 Nd4 59.b4 Rh2 60.g3 Nf3+ 61.Ke2 Nd4+ 62.Kd2 Kf5 63.Rc7 g5 64.b5 Nxb5 65.Rcxc6Rxf2+ 66.Ke3 Rb2 67.Rxf6+ Kg4 68.Ra1 Rg2 69.Ra5 Rxg3+ 70.Kd2 Rg2+ 71.Ke1 Nd4?? Amazingly enough, after a very up and down struggle, Black can still draw with 71…Nc3! But now he loses his knight. 72.Ra4 Re2+ 73.Kf1; 1-0