Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chekhover Sicilian at the Summer Tourney

Chekhover Sicilian, White to play.
I stopped by the Kenilworth Chess Club on Thursday to enter the Summer Tournament.  I must say that Greg Tomkovich has done a wonderful job this year organizing the event, especially with the idea of having an under-1200 section, which has attracted a wider range of players to the club than we usually see, including many youngsters.  There were about 30 people in attendance, almost all participating in the tournament.  That's a far cry from the days long ago when Greg used to be the only person in attendance at the club during the slow summer months.  The crowd was a little too large, especially since we did not have our usual second room available due to a Recreation Department meeting there.  I probably benefitted from the attendance and the crowded conditions, as my opponent for the night, FM Steve Stoyko, seems to have been distracted by spectators at critical junctures in our game.  Steve said he's not sure he will play again, but with some of his students participating I doubt he will stick to his conviction.  After all, it is an unrated event and he has already paid his five dollars.

I have annotated the game Goeller - Stoyko, Kenilworth CC Summer Tournament 2011 not because I think it's one of my better games but because I think it exemplifies the problems faced by masters trying to win against weaker opposition from a very equal position.  I discussed a similar issue in my article "Winning with a Forced Draw in the Petroff," where Mangion played for a forced draw in the Petroff and NM Kernighan tried to escape the draw at his peril.  

In my game with FM Stoyko, we reached a familiar position from the Chekhover Variation of the Sicilian Defense (see above) which I had examined in "Notes on the Chekhover Sicilian."  In that article I had annotated a game of mine where I followed Vasiukov and played 11.Kb1 from the diagram.  As I indicate in my notes, Black has lots of ideas for counterplay, for example with 11...h6 12.Bh4 Qa5! (which seems clearer than Kasparov's 12...Re8).  Rather flummoxed to find a better continuation here over the board, I decided to take the coward's way out and pursue a draw with a line that theory frowns upon: 11.Bxf6?! Bxf6 12.Qxd6 and White temporarily wins a pawn.  Of course, Black gets lots of counterplay; however, it seemed to me that the game would simplify to a position I likely could hold by giving back the pawn.  That's more or less what happened, except Stoyko, not satisfied with a draw against me, over-reached.  And so I won my first game of the event, and my first game ever against Steve.

After the game Steve showed me that the new way of playing this line for White, developed by Judit Polgar, is to keep the Rook at h1.  So instead of playing 10.Rhe1 O-O reaching the diagrammed position, White plays 10.Qd3 with the idea of Nd4 and f4-f5.  Play typically goes 10.Qd3 O-O 11.Nd4 and now with the Rook on h1 White can meet a Black h6 with h4! inviting him to open the h-file.  I vaguely remembered seeing a video that laid out this idea and it is included below.


The KEC Master said...

In the analysis, the narrator mentioned Shirov played ...Be5 instead of ...Qxa2. The narrator mentions the combination & that White threatens checkmate by Qg7 & Qf8. What is wrong with Black playing ...Rg8 there? He's hitting both the Queen & the ...Qa1+ skewer.

Ian said...

Interesting psychologically....I'm actually slightly surprised Steve didn't go in for 11....gxf6 anyways. Maybe 11. Bxf6 isn't as bad as its reputation. Good symmetry with the Petroff game though (over in 24 moves) :)