Emanuel Tsiteklis is the founder of the Knoxville Chess Club, but has played at the club infrequently in recent years because of conflicts with other activities. This year after an early loss to Dickerson, he had won his other games and could have tied for first if he had beaten me in this last round encounter. 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 c5 4.d5 e6 5.Nc3 exd5 6.cxd5 d6 7.e4 a6 8.a4 Bg4 9.Be2 Bg7 Many Black players prefer 9...Bxf3 here, but it is also useful to wait for White to spend a tempo on h3. 10.O-O Because of Black's move order, White could try for the swap of light-squared bishops instead with. 10.Nd2 Bxe2 11.Qxe2 O-O 12.Nc4, but most players prefer to obtain the bishop pair. 10...O-O 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Bxf3 Nbd7 13.Be2!? Generally, White waits until Black forces this bishop back with ...Ne5, but the text does have some point in that it keeps an eye on the queenside and frees the way for the White f-pawn. 13...Re8 14.Qc2 Qc7 Another idea is 14...Qe7 trying to take advantage of White's 13th move by immediately targeting the e-pawn. 15.Bf4 c4 I also considered 15...Re7 with the idea Rae7, but decided to maintain a bit more flexibility in the placement of my rooks. 16.Ra3 16.Rfe1 or 16.a5 would finally transpose into more well-known paths, he wanted to cover the d3 square to try and prevent an eventual ...Nd3 by taking advantage of the opposition of queens on the c-file.
16...Ne5 17.Nd1 Nfd7 The immediate 17...b5 is met by 18.axb5 axb5 19.Rxa8 Rxa8 20.Bxe5 dxe5 21.b3 Rc8 22.bxc4 bxc4 with an edge to White 18.f3 18...b5 19.Bd2 He starts to get in some difficulties after this move. Better was 19.axb5 axb5 20.Rxa8 Rxa8 with a small advantage to Black. 19...Nc5 20.f4 Ned3 20...Ned7 is also good for Black, but this is more active 21.b4
21...Qa7 Black has some other possibilities here. My original thought was 21...Nxe4 22.Bxd3 ( 22.Rxd3 Qa7+ 23.Be3 cxd3 ) Nxd2 23.Qxd2 which is similar to the game. I also looked at 21...cxb3 22.Rxb3 Qa7 23.Be3 which I thought was good for White, but black then has the remarkable move 23...Nc1! 22.Kh2 White might consider 22.axb5!? as an attempt to complicate things. Black could have stopped this possibility by playing 21...Qb6. Still, after 22...Nxe4+, Black should still be better 22...Nxe4 23.Bxd3 cxd3 24.Qxd3 Nxd2 25.Qxd2 bxa4 26.Rxa4 Qb6 27.Qd3 with a draw offer, which I declined since this ending is very nice for Black. 27...f5 28.Rf2 Re4 29.Rfa2 Rxf4 30.Rxa6 Rxa6 31.Qxa6 better is 31. Rxa6, but Black still has a big edge 31...Qxa6 32.Rxa6 Be5 -+ even better than 32...Rxb4 which also wins
33.Kg1 33.g3 Rf3 -+ 33...Bd4+ 34.Kh2 Rf1 35.b5 Rxd1 36.b6 Rb1 37.Ra8+ Kg7 0-1
Fheopatrick Patterson finally came out of retirement this year after a long hiatus. He qualified for the Championship without much trouble, but his rust showed in the finals as he struggled with the clock in every game. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 Be7 6.e3 c6 7.Qc2 Nbd7 8.Bd3 Nf8 9.Nge2 9. Nf3 may be a better way to take advantage of Black's move order trying to take control of e5, which Black's last move abandoned. 9...Ng6 A somewhat unusual move, generally the knight goes to e6 to put the question to the g5 bishop. However, Sierawan played the text move and achieved a draw earlier this year in the US vs. China match.
10.Ng3 Trying to prevent Black from freeing his position with ...Nh5, and maintaining the flexiblity of castling on either side. However, the knight is a bit misplaced here, so castling on either side should also be considered. 10...Ng8 10...Ng4!? should also be considered in order to recapture on e7 with the queen. 11.Bxe7 N8xe7 12.O-O O-O 13.b4 Bd7 13...f5 14.Nge2 and it is hard to see how Black makes further progress, his knights are positioned more awkwardly than normal in this variation. Another typical way to play would be 13...a6 14.a4 Be6 15.b5 axb5 16.axb5 Qd6 17.bxc6 bxc6 with a small edge to White 14.b5 cxb5 15.Nxb5 Bc6?! Instead of putting the bishop on this passive square, he should trade 15...Bxb5 16.Bxb5 f5 when White only has a small advantage.
16.Rab1 a6 17.Nc3 Rc8 18.Rfc1 Qa5 19.Nf1 White activates his worst placed piece. 19...Qa3 20.Qb2 Qxb2 21.Rxb2 Rc7 22.Na4 Nc8 23.Nd2 Nd6 24.Nb6 Ne7 25.Nb3 Ndc8? A time trouble blunder. His position was difficult, but he could still try to dig in with 25...Rd8 26.Na5 Ndc8 (or 26...Ne8) 26.Na8 1-0 With only 3 minutes left on his clock, he decided to give up. Black loses material after 26...Rd7 27.Nc5 Rdd8 28.Nxb7 Rd7 29.Nc5
In Round 3 I had Black against Leonard Dickerson. This looked to be a pivotal game in deciding the Championship since in addition to being the two highest rated players, we were already the only two without a loss. 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. d5 g6 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. Bb5+ Nbd7 7. e5?! He confused his lines, thinking about 5. f4 Bg7 5. Bb5+ Nbd7? (Nfd7 has to be played) 6. e5 which splatters Black. Normal is 7. a4 with a slight advantage to White
7... dxe5 8. Nxe5 O-O 9. Nxd7 Bxd7 10. Be2 Losing even more time. He probably should have tried 10. a4 10... b5 11. Bf3 11. Bxb5 Bxb5 12. Nxb5 Qa5+ 13. Nc3 Nxd5 14. Qxd5 Bxc3+ 15. Bd2 Rad8 16. Bxc3 Qxc3+ 17. bxc3 Rxd5 with clear advantage to Black 11... b4 12. Ne4 Nxe4 13. Bxe4 Bb5 14. Bd3 14. d6 is strongly met by the exchange sacrifice 14...exd6 15. Bxa8 Re8+ 16. Be3 Bxb2 (or 16... Qxa8) 14... c4 15. Be2
15...Qd6 I spent a long time considering 15... c3!? 16. Bxb5 cxb2 17. Bxb2 Bxb2 18. Rb1 Bc3+ 19. Kf1 with slight advantage to Black but decided that wasn't enough so I began piling up on d5. 16. O-O Rad8 17. a4 Perhaps 17. a3 should have been tried instead. During the game I thought Black still had an edge after 17...bxa3 18. Rxa3 a6 but 19. b3 cxb3 20. Rxb3 Bxe2 (20... Qxd5 21. Qxd5 Rxd5 22. c4 Ba4 23. Ra3 Re5 24. Rxa4 Rxe2 25. Rxa6) 21. Qxe2 Qxd5 22. Qxa6 gives him some chances. 17... Ba6 I thought this was stronger than 17...bxa3 transposing into the previous note 18. c3 Sacrificing a pawn for some activity, but 18. Rb1 Qxd5 19. Qxd5 Rxd5 20. b3 Ra5 was no better 18... bxc3 19. bxc3 Bxc3 [19... Qxd5] 20. Ba3 20. Bh6 Qe5 21. Rc1 Rxd5 22. Qc2 Bd2 23. Bxf8 Qxe2 24. Bh6 c3� 20... Bb4 20... Qe5 looks even stronger 21. Bxb4 Qxb4 22. Qd4 Qb6 23. Qe4 better was 23. Rfd1 or 23. Qxb6 axb6 24. Rab1 Rd6 25. Rb4 when he might have some faint hope of reaching a pawn down ending of 4 vs. 3 on the kingside. Now the c-pawn becomes a monster.
23... c3 24. Bxa6 Qxa6 25. Qxe7 Rxd5 26. Rfc1 Rc8 27. h3 c2 28. Qe4 Rd2 29. Qf3 Qd6 30. g3 Qd4 31. Kg2 Rc3 32. Qf4 Qd5+ 33. Kh2 Rf3 34. Qb8+ Kg7 35. Qb2+ Kh6 36. Rxc2 Rfxf2+ [0:1]
Eric Redheffer had a respectable even score in his debut in the Championship. However, since one of the wins was by forfeit when Patterson had car trouble, it is not clear if he will gain the two rating points he needed to crack the 2000 barrier. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 c5 7. d5 e6 8. Bd3 exd5 9. cxd5 a6 10. a4 Nbd7 11. Nge2 Rb8 12. O-O Ne5 13. Ng3 h5 simplest is 13... Nxd3 14. Qxd3 Nd7 with a slight advantage to Black. I also spent some time considering the sacrificial 13... Nfg4 14. fxg4 Nxg4 but it looks OK for white after 15. Rf3 (15. Bf2 Qh4 16. h3 Nxf2 17. Rxf2 (17. Kxf2 Bd4+ 18. Kf3 h5) 17... Qxg3) 15... Nxe3 16. Rxe3 Bd4 17. Qf3 14. Be2 somewhat unexpected. White is now a whole tempo down on the normal move order in which Ne2-g3 is played before developing the bishop which then goes to e2 in a single move. 14... Bd7!? a double-edged try to take advantage of having gotten Rb8 for free. 14... Nh7 is a normal move in this type of position. I played that move against Walter Cunningham in the 1998 Amateur Team South tournament in this position with the rook on a8 instead of b8. 15. h3 b5 16. axb5 16. f4 deserves attention 16... Bxb5 I thought 16... axb5 17. f4 Nc4 18. Bxc4 bxc4 19. e5 gave White a small plus 17. Nxb5 axb5 18. Qc2 Re8 19. Rfe1 Nh7 20. Ra6 Nc4 21. Bxc4 bxc4 22. Qxc4 I didn't like this move. The c4-pawn is much weaker than the b2-pawn so White shouldn't want to make this exchange so easily. 22...Rxb2 23. Re2 23. Bf4 Qh4!? 24. Bxd6 Bd4+ 25. Kh2 Ng5 26. Re2 Rb1 is an interesting attacking idea for Black 23... Rb1+ 24. Kh2 Better is 24. Nf1 24... Be5 25. f4? A mistake. He needed to bump my rook first with 25. Qd3
25... Bg7? It dawned on me the next day that the immediate 25... Nf6! is crushing. For example, 26. Nxh5 Ng4+ 27. Kg3 Nxe3 28. Rxe3 Qg5+ 29. Kf2 Rb2+ 30. Re2 Bd4+ and Black wins. 26. e5 dxe5 27. f5 Nf6 Finally seeing the idea, a couple moves late, as now he has a defense. 28. Bg5 e4!? trying to play for a win. 28... Ng4+ 29. Qxg4 hxg4 30. Bxd8 Rxd8 31. fxg6 fxg6 32. Rxg6 Kh7 33. Rxg4 Rxd5 is equal.
29. Nxe4?! Better is the extremely complicated 29. Bxf6 Bxf6 30. fxg6 (30. Nxe4 Be5+ 31. g3 gxf5) 30... h4 With two choices a) (31. Nxe4 Be5+ 32. g3 hxg3+ 33. Kg2 Bd4 34. gxf7+ Kxf7 35. Nd6+ Qxd6 36. Rxe8 (36. Rxd6 Rg1+ 37. Kf3 Rf1+=) 36... Rb2+ (36... Rg1+ 37. Kf3 Qxa6 38. Qxa6 Kxe8 39. Qe6+ Kf8 40. d6) 37. Re2 Rxe2+ 38. Qxe2 Qxd5+ 39. Kxg3 and b) 31. gxf7+ Kxf7 32. d6+ Kf8 33. Nxe4 Be5+ 34. g3 hxg3+ 35. Kg2 Bd4 In both cases, White should be a little better, but with both kings exposed, minimal material and the clocks starting to run down it would be dangerous for both players. 29... Qb8+ 30. d6?! Black wins after 30. g3? Nxe4 31. Rxe4 Qb2+; 30. Ng3 h4 31. Bxh4 Rb4 32. Rxe8+ Qxe8 33. Qxc5 Rxh4 is also very good for Black. Relatively best is 30. Nd6 Bf8 31. Bxf6 (31. Bf4) 31... Bxd6+ 32. g3 Bxg3+ 33. Kg2 Rxe2+ 34. Qxe2 Bh4 35. Qe5 Bxf6 36. Qxb8+ Rxb8 37. Rxf6 Rd8 38. fxg6 Kg7 and White should be able to hold the pawn down rook ending. 30... Nxe4? Getting short of time I was worried about my back rank and shots against my rook otherwise I would have played 30... Rxe4 31. Rxe4 Rb4 32. Bxf6 (32. Qa2 Nxe4 33. Ra8 Be5+ 34. Kg1 Rb1+) 32... Rxc4 33. Rxc4 Bxf6 with a clear advantage to Black 31. Rxe4 Rb4 31... Be5+ 32. Rxe5 Rxe5 33. fxg6 is much better for White 32. Rxe8+ Qxe8
33. d7? 33. Qxc5 Be5+ 34. Kh1 Rb1+ 35. Bc1 Bf4 wins for Black, but 33. Qf1 Be5+ 34. Kg1 gives White some chances to hold 33... Qxd7 33... Be5+? 34. Bf4 Bxf4+ 35. Qxf4 Qxd7 36. Ra8+ Kh7 37. Qe5 +- 34. Ra8+ Kh7 35. fxg6+ Kxg6 Of course not 35...fxg6?? 36. Qg8# 36. Ra6+ 36. Qxc5? Rb5 37. Qe7 Be5+ -+ 36... f6 37. Qc2+ [37. Qxc5? Rb5 38. Qc2+ Kxg5 -+ 39. Qh7 Qc7+ 40. Kg1 Qc1+ 41. Kh2] 37... Qf5 38. Qxf5+ Kxf5 At this point he had 4 minutes to my 6 so the remaining play by both sides can't be criticized too harshly. With an extra pawn and more active king it is much easier to play Black in this situation. 39. Be3 Bf8 40. Ra5 Bd6+ 41. Kg1 Rc4 42. Kf2 Ke4 43. Ke2 f5 44. Ra6 Be5 45. Re6 [45. Rh6 Rc2+ 46. Kd1 Ra2 47. Bxc5 Kd3 weaves a mating net] 45... Rc2+ 46. Kd1 Rxg2 47. Bxc5 Kd5 48. Rh6? A final blunder, but Black should still win after 48. Re8 f4 (48... Rh2 49. Ba7 Rxh3 50. Bb8 Bxb8 51. Rxb8 Re3) 49. Bb6 f3 50. Rd8+ Ke4 51. Rd2 48... Kxc5 49. Rxh5 Rf2 50. Ke1 Rf4 51. Ke2 Kd4 52. h4 Ke4 53. Rh7 Rg4 54. h5 Rg2+ 55. Kd1 Kd3 56. Rd7+ Bd4 [0:1]
Besides myself, the only other repeat qualifier from last year was Tim Schulze. Like last year, he was the lowest rated participant, this time by a wide margin. However, he upset Patterson to end up as the big rating points winner. 1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nf6 3. cxd5 Qxd5 4. Nc3 Qa5 5. Nf3 e6 6. Bd2 c6 Black's position is solid, but very passive. 7. e4 Be7 8. Bd3 Nbd7 If 8... O-O the White has the greek gift sacrifice 9. Nd5 (to eliminate Be7 which is guarding g5) 9...Qd8 10. Nxe7+ Qxe7 11. e5 Nd5 12. Bxh7+ Kxh7 13. Ng5+ Kg6 14. Qg4 f5 15. Qh4 Nf6 16. exf6 gxf6 17. Nf3 with a clear advantage 9. O-O 9. Qe2 with the idea 10.e5 Nd5 11.Nxd5 Qxd5 12. Bc4 trapping the queen may be slightly more accurate. Although he could just play 9...Qc7 with a likely transposition into the game. 9... h6 Now 9... O-O was possible since 10. Nd5 Qd8 11. Nxe7+ Qxe7 12. e5 Nd5 13. Bxh7+ Kxh7 14. Ng5+ Kg8 15. Qh5 N7f6 16. exf6 Nxf6 is fine for Black. But instead of sacrificing on h7, White should just maintain his advantages: 2 bishops, more space, and better development. 10. Qe2 Qc7 11. Rac1 O-O 12. e5 Nh7 13. Qe4 f5 14. exf6 Ndxf6 15. Qg6 Kh8 16. Ne5 Bd6 17. Nb5 Qe7 18. Nxd6 Qxd6
19. Nf7+ It may have been better to win the exchange the other way with 19. Qf7 Qxe5 20. Qxf8+ Nxf8 21. dxe5 since Black won't be picking up any pawns. Instead, I thought keeping queens on would be a better way to exploit his "loose" king position, but in retrospect this was too optimistic, his king is very safe 19... Rxf7 20. Qxf7 Bd7 21. Qg6 Ng5 I hadn't considered this move threatening to embarass the White queen with Be8. 22. Bxg5 Be8
23. Bf4 I considered the queen sacrifce 23. Bxf6 Bxg6 24. Be5 Qd5 25. Bxg6 Qxa2 26. Rc3 Qxb2 which should be winning after 27. Rg3, but decided to play a bit safer 23... Qxf4 24. Qg3 Qxd4 25. Rfd1 Bh5 26. Be2 Qxb2 27. Bxh5 Nxh5 28. Qf3 Nf6 29. Rb1 Qxa2 30. Rxb7 Qc2 31. h3 a5 32. Ra1 a4 33. Qg3 Nh5 34. Qg4 Qc3
35. Ra2 35. Rxa4? Rxa4 36. Qxa4 Qe1+ 37. Kh2 Qe5+ 38. g3 Nxg3 39. Qa8+ (39. fxg3 Qe2+ with perpetual) 39... Kh7 40. Qb8 Qxb8 41. Rxb8 gives Black much better chances to hold the ending. 35... Qe1+ 35... Qc1+ 36. Kh2 Qf4+ 37. Qxf4 Nxf4 38. Rb4 Nd3 39. Rbxa4 Rxa4 40. Rxa4 Nxf2 41. Kg3 Nd3 42. Rd4 Ne5 43. Rd6 c5 44. Rxe6 and White will soon pick up the c-pawn with a winning ending. In general, a knight has a very tough time in the endgame against a rook. 36. Kh2 Qe5+ 37. g3 a3 38. Qf3 Qc5 39. Rb3 Rf8 40. Qe3 Qd5 41. Rbxa3 Nf6 42. Ra8 Rxa8 43. Rxa8+ Kh7 44. Qe2 Qf5 45. Rc8 c5 46. f3 h5 47. h4 g5? A time pressure blunder, but 47... Nd7 48. Qe4 Qxe4 49. fxe4 Nf6 50. Rxc5 is also winning for White 48. hxg5 Qxg5 49. Qxe6 Qd2+ 50. Kh3 Qd7 51. Qxd7+ Nxd7 52. Rc7 [1:0]
Before I move on to my games from the Knoxville City Championship, just a quick update on the chess playing heavyweights Lennox Lewis and the Klitschko brothers. It looks like older brother Vitaly is going to get the first shot at Lewis' belts in March. If Lewis gets by Vitaly then it looks like he will then fight a rematch with Mike Tyson (why?) and then Wladimir.
Wladimir Klitschko defended his WBO title Saturday night in Las Vegas with a methodical TKO win over Jameel McCline. This was considered to be Wladimir's first big test against a ranked heavyweight in the US and he passed with flying colors. If it had been a chess game it would have been a methodical positional win in the style of Karpov. McCline only managed to land 61 punches in 10 rounds. Klitschko knocked him down at the end of round 10 and McCline didn't answer the bell for the 11th.
The Klitschko brothers are finally starting to get media attention in the US. I recently saw features on them in both Time and Sports Illustrated. A photo in the SI piece cast some doubts on their chess playing however. The board featured the common error of a dark square in the right hand corner. Compounding matters was the fact that it was a board with the algebraic letters and numbers on the sides! Perhaps someone else set up the board and thought it would be a good idea if the letters and numbers could be read from the side angle that the picture would be taken from.
I wrapped up my 5th straight Knoxville City Championship (and 6th overall) tonight at the Knoxville Chess Club. This year we got closer to our old standard with the field having an average rating of 1975. Despite the large increase in average rating of the field from last year, I actually had a better lifetime record against this year's group than I did last year and managed to finish with a perfect score for the second straight year. This was also the first time I managed a clean 5-0 (last year I won a game by forfeit after Mirani withdrew). I'll begin posting annotations to my games either Friday or Saturday.