December 27th, 2014
|03:06 am - USF and WCC player of the week Taylor Proctor open conference play Saturday, hosting Pacific|
More than two seasons ago, Pacific coach Roberts and I were exchanging IMs while I watched San Francisco host someone. "[Freshman forward] Taylor Proctor looks like a stud," I said.
"Thanks for reminding me," Coach said. "We recruited the hell out of Taylor Proctor."
San Francisco hosts Pacific Saturday in the WCC opener for both teams. The Dons are 7-0 at home, winning by an average of 15 against five Div. I opponents. Pacific's losses at UC Davis and at Long Beach St. were their two worst games of the season.
Proctor, a junior, is the current WCC player of the week. As long as USF stays healthy, Proctor's in the right place — Pacific's injuries have hurt the Tigers in perhaps an irreparable way.
USF is 9-2. They look like they've learned to make winning a habit.
Pacific is 8-3, but it's a misleading 8-3 (both teams benefited from a soft schedule). In their losses, they've been bad — on balance, Pacific isn't good enough to not be the harder-working team, but this isn't a blue collar bunch.
For four years, Pacific was led by Kendall Rodriguez and Samantha Pettinger, who played with great doggedness. This season's mean streak at Pacific was coming from seniors Marjorie Heard and Gena Johnson, both shelved with injuries.
Without Heard, Pacific can be overmatched inside. The gifted Kendall Kenyon is a skinny finesse player, while sophomore Emily Simons gave up nine inches to Nevada's Mungedi. Watch USF freshman Michaela Rakova, a 6-3 banger.
Pacific's Erin Butler has to be good Saturday. In Proctor's last three games, she's averaging 18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal. Pacific doesn't count on Butler for such numbers, but she has to shoot well enough to spread the floor.
Another matchup that favors USF is at point, where junior Zhane Dikes is bigger, faster, and more skilled than Pacific senior Kristina Johnson.
December 8th, 2014
|10:02 pm - Things I heard on the radio|
I mostly kept it together today after receiving the news of Zeus' passing at 9. I lost it on the drive home during "Hotel California" — crying over my dead cat was a welcome distraction from a great song played to tiresomeness. Zeus was the prince, the first son born to the matriarch Chloe, and such a good cat.
The '70s nostalgia hour moved on to Barry Manilow's "Mandy". In the 8th grade, I knew a math teacher named McClellan because the timeshared computer was in his classroom. After school, McClellan sang in a lounge — if I remember right, his favorite song was "Mandy". Even at 13, I thought "whoa, there's some schmaltz". Then a few years later, Manilow did "I Write the Songs," which I thought was a terrific song, and occasionally I've wondered if the Tyrrell Jr. High math teacher put it in his set.
Then followed Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl", the song that helped Springfield engineer a remarkable show business turnaround. On the brink of quitting and retiring to Australia, Springfield made a #1 single, while getting a Dr. Fanservice role on "General Hospital" when it was unheard of for a daytime serial to include a science fiction thread — a bad guy threatened to turn Port Charles to ice with a fantastic gizmo. One thing that peeved me then was how anyone could think the rock song "Jessie's Girl" had anything to do with the nurse Jessie at the Port Charles hospital. If the possessive in the title doesn't tip you off, then how about the lyric "Jessie's got himself a girl / and I wanna make her mine"? Yet the question about a connection between song and soap lingered for a long, stupid while. (Why Springfield didn't opt for the more traditionally-masculine spelling "Jesse", who knows.)
The walk between the train station and the office crosses California St., which is traversed by cable car. Unfortunately, I'll probably think about the following every time I cross the tracks in the future.
Last Tuesday during the rain, the San Francisco cable cars were decommissioned. As a "safety precaution", the reporter said, before cutting to the clip of the public works official who made the call. That's professionally-written broadcast news. The reporter summarized what the wonk was about to say in two words, so we don't have to listen to the PR. But the choice of words!
"Safety precaution". It's redundant cubed, which is a feat for two words. Safety. Precaution. You take caution. You take safeties. So you could eliminate either word and not change the meaning of the sentence. But "precaution"? It's the same redundancy as "forewarning".
"Safety precaution". Inexcusable for any, but a reporter should be kicked in the butt.
December 7th, 2014
|10:54 pm - In which I sound like a sports fan stuck in the past, clinging to a year from which a few remain|
The question on Pacific boosters' minds could be "They beat Hawaii to finish a 2-1 road swing, and a fine 5-2 record overall, but are they any good?".
I can't tell. Maybe.
First, the 2015 team hasn't put a whole team on the floor yet. Senior forward Kendall Kenyon missed a month with mononucleosis, and she doesn't yet look 100 percent. Her partner in the post — senior Marjorie Heard — is out for the season after knee reconstruction (that sentence was more interesting before I learned the extent of Marjie's injury).
The seniors are a contrast in style — Kendall is slender and smooth, Marjie is sturdy and electric. If either of them is out, it's like Pacific has half a post, figuratively and somewhat literally. It leaves sophomore Emily Simons to fill in — Simons is versatile and surefooted (she moves as well without the ball as any Tiger I can remember), but she's out of position — her defense against Nevada's 6-8 Mungedi was valiant, putting it euphemistically.
The Tigers aren't fully armed on the inside, and they're lacking on the perimeter, too — for Pacific to space the floor adequately, the outside players have to be able to shoot the ball and move the ball, and starters Parrish, Eackles, and Butler have been inconsistent (as the team goes, so go they), while the others are young or insufficiently multi-dimensional.
There's nothing wrong with the 2015 group that can't be fixed by reassembling the 2013 championship team. Which I mean as a "duh, who can't see that" observation, but for intangibles.
The 2015 team doesn't have a Kendall Rodriguez. There are 330 Division I teams that don't have a Kendall Rodriguez, but they all want one — Kendall was a leader who could score 20 points in a half if necessary, while elevating (that is, butt-kicking) her teammates to the level where she wouldn't have to.
The 2015 team misses Erica McKenzie, who could shoot a trey, move back a foot, then shoot another. The fact that she came in as a slick ballhandler made her a very difficult opponent, one who could shoot it over or drive it past. Those are tangibles — what made E special was her ability to evolve with the team as it emerged from last place — her adjustment to a new role came while the team was struggling internally.
The 2015 team could sorely use Samantha Pettinger, who was 98 percent junkyard dog, plus 2 percent clutch shooter. Sam was such a positive for intangibles that it was near-impossible to talk about all she contributed without damning her by not talking about what didn't show on a stat sheet. The 2012 championship team had a couple of players who were "glue" or "character players" — which is faint praise for bad teams, but appropriate for Brianna Johnson and Shanice Butler, for instance. My introduction to Ashley Wakefield, who shared the 3 with Sam, was when she was on the brink of suspension for pummeling one of the SF Art Academicians.
The 2015 team needs a 2013 Gena Johnson, but if Gena doesn't play again this season, the fact that she's on the bench is enough. The old saying is that there are no agnostics in a foxhole — after Gena's car accident, I prayed like a battlefield atheist. Gena at her best was dynamic and impossible to stop — opposing coaches should've been seeking ways to get her to overthink, and therefore stop herself. Gena with a head of steam could knock down a triple team, and accept her offensive foul with a snarl — she's no longer that player.
This year's model lacks something that Roberts' teams have thrived upon: underdog status.
The championship Tigers had an us-against-the-world mean streak that fueled their climb from the bottom. Reaching the WNIT for three years running meant that the team could recruit greater talent, but whereas the 2012 and 2013 teams were hell-bent on proving the world wrong, the 2015 team has to get healthy before it can strive for more than the status quo.
Pacific winning 20-some games while resting in the top half of the West Coast Conference won't do. Heaven help me, Pacific is evoking some fine Phoenix Suns teams from the late '70s and late '80s — winning 50+ games with speed and good looks, flaming out in the playoffs for a lack of rebounds and ugly.
December 1st, 2014
|08:45 pm - California: Sharing the ball like never before, gathering victories as usual|
The host California Golden Bears won the Cal Classic on Thanksgiving weekend, defeating San Jose State 110-87 Friday behind a triple-double by guard Brittany Boyd, then the championship game Saturday 94-69 over Creighton, where each of Cal's 10 players recorded an assist.
Cal improved to 6-0 while climbing from #14 to #10 in the AP rankings.
The Golden Bears are scoring many, many easy baskets. The team is shooting .496 by virtue of 134 assists in six games, recording an assist on 41.57% of their possessions. Cal's 22.3 assists per game is better than UConn's 21.3 average in 2014 — the national champion Huskies were undefeated, with an NCAA record 850 assists in 40 games (an incredible 48.16% assist rate).
Cal is always big and fast, capable of outreaching opponents for a pass near the basket, or outrunning opponents on an open floor, but Cal's 2013 team — 31 wins plus a trip to the Final Four — made 12 assists per game. The 2015 Golden Bears are making 10 more than that — what's going on here?
"For as long as I've been here (as an assistant or as head coach), we've had two or more dominant post players," said coach Lindsay Gottlieb, "from [2008 seniors] Devanei (Hampton) and Ashley (Walker) to Talia [Caldwell], Reshanda [Gray], Gennifer [Brandon], and Justine [Hartman, all members of the 2013 group]."
"We always had two legitimate inside threats, but didn't spread the floor so well. This year we have lengthy 6-2 wings — [freshmen] Mikayla Cowling, Gabby Green, [sophomores] Courtney Range, Mercedes Jefflo — so many versatile, talented players who can spread the floor.We agreed that no one should ever take a contested shot, and they've responded by making the extra pass."
Gottlieb credited floor leader Boyd as a steadier player in her senior season. "She's still as flashy on the floor as any player in the country, but there's less high and low — she still has the spectacular moments but fewer that are unspectacular." The most valuable player at the Cal Classic, Boyd made 11 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists against San Jose State, followed by 14, 7, and 8 against Creighton.
August 10th, 2014
|11:44 pm - BayAreaChess John Donaldson Tribute Open, rounds five and six|
White: Frisco Del Rosario
Black: Christopher Pan (2002)
Event: BAC Donaldson
(A45 Queen's Pawn Game, Bronstein G)
1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 Nxg4 3 e4 d6 4 Be2 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6 6 Bg5 Bg7 7 Qd2 h6
The weakening of the g-file is more dangerous for Black than allowing Bg5-h6.
8 Bh4 O-O 9 O-O-O Nc6
I suspect this move is better than the game suggests.
10 d5 Ne5 11 f4 Ned7 12 Nf3 Nb6?
The knight is out of play unless Black can win control of d5, and in any event, the queen wants to use the d8-a5 diagonal.
c6 14 dxc6 bxc6 15 f5 gxf5??
He played quickly, as if he considered only 16. Qxh6 Ng4 (though White's winning there, too). Best is probably 15 ... Kh7 16 e5 Nfd5 17 Bd3 +/=
16 Bxf6 Re8 17 Qxh6 1-0
That took five minutes of clock time on my side, so with four hours of lunchtime, I visited Santana Row, a live-work-shop complex that's succeeding beyond the wildest dreams of every other real estate developer that's tried the same approach. I dropped in on two wine bars (disappointed in each), and then learned that "two tasting flights" is the same type of "do not play chess" condition as "asleep" and "sick" and "sick yesterday". (The only rated game I played in 2013 was a loss to B-player Flyn Penoyer, where I was too zonked on March Madness beer to sit up. Now I see that "too drunk to see straight" and "sober enough to drive" are the same at the chessboard.)
It was a good miniature to lose, though. Jack Zhu was an unlikeable little kid, but at 15, he seems to have grown up encouragingly. He certainly plays the right way.
White: Jack Zhu (2137)
Black: Frisco Del Rosario
Event: BayAreaChess Donaldson
(C47 Four Knights Game, Schultze-Müller G)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nxe5! Nxe5
I think if I weren't half-drunk, I would've come up with 4…Nxe4, which could've arisen from 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 Nc6 (my old favorite) 4. Nc3 Nxe4.
5 d4 Ng6 6 e5 Ng8 7 Bc4 d6 8 Qf3 f6 9 Bg5 dxe5 10 O-O-O Bd6 11 Rhe1 Qd7?
Suddenly it's over.
12 dxe5 Nxe5 13 Rxe5+! fxe5 14 Rxd6! cxd6 15 Bb5 Nf6 16 Bxf6 gxf6 17 Qxf6 Rf8 18 Qxd6 a6 19 Bxd7+ Bxd7 20 Nd5 O-O-O
I should've insisted on 21. Ne7# or 21. Nb6#.
21 Qc7# 1-0
Unfortunately, I lost rating points for 2-2 against 1900, 2000, 2000, 2100. The weird thing was how little original thinking there was in three days of chess. In the wins, I followed my experience in the Philidor and Bronstein gambits, and then they blundered right away. In the losses, I was sleepy or tipsy.
August 9th, 2014
|02:43 pm - BayAreaChess John Donaldson Tribute Open, round three|
I decided I can't play morning rounds anymore, and this debacle suggests I oughtn't play early afternoons, either. (Then when I consider that I play weakly in the evenings, too — after work or while unwell — I resume thinking that I should stay in retirement.)
White: Pranav Srihari (2002)
Black: Frisco Del Rosario
Event: BAC Donaldson
(C50 Hungarian D)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Be7 4 d4 d6 5 d5 Nb8 6 Bd3 Nd7 7 c4 Ngf6 8 Nc3 O-O 9 h3 Qe8 10 O-O c6
Here I thought "OK, remember you've left the d6-pawn loose."
11 Be3 Bd8 12 Bc2
And then I forgot. I was also struggling to remember to breathe, so it's just one of those mornings at 2 p.m.
Bb6? 13 dxc6 Bxe3?? 14 cxd7 Bxf2+ 15 Rxf2 Qxd7
"That's weird," I thought, "Why do I have an extra pawn here?" Then I counted the pieces.
|01:16 am - BayAreaChess John Donaldson Tribute Open, round one|
White is an 11-year-old whose mom hung about and helped keep his nose clean. When I was 11, Kenny Fong's mom did that, and I fell apart because my mom wasn't that kind of mom. (This is why kid tournaments no longer let parents in the playing rooms, because it *is* a factor.) At 51, I could think "Enjoy that granola bar from Mom."
White: Raymond Muller (1835)
Black: Frisco Del Rosario
Event: BayAreaChess Donaldson
(C41 Philidor C-G, Philidor C-G, del Rio A)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 f5
It's a bad drug, but sometimes bad drugs work for mentally ill chessplayers like Morphy and me.
4 dxe5 fxe4 5 Ng5 d5 6 e6 Bc5 7 Nf7 Qf6 8 Qe2 Bxe6 9 Nxh8
White has nothing in this position but an extra rook.
Nc6 10 c3 O-O-O 11 b4 Nxb4
I knew capturing the pawn gives White a tempo for developing his king bishop before castling, but castling feels like a death trap, and if 11…Bb6 instead, I couldn't predict White's 12th move.
12 Qb2 Nc6
12…Rf8 is better, but I didn't think about anything but …Nb4-c6-e5.
13 Bb5 Ne5 14 O-O Nh6 15 Bxh6
Given my results with 1. d4 Nf6 2. g4 Nxg4, you know I was delighted when he opened the g-file for me. On 15. Be3, I was going to crack the g-file in a different way by 15…Nf3+.
gxh6 16 Nd2 Rg8
I picked up the d8-rook, moved it left, and stopped short of h8. It's humorous, and highlights the worthlessness of the knight. I have more fun than other chessplayers.
17 g3 would've been a better test because whether I played 17…Bh3 or 17…Nf3+, I would've had to keep White's backward defensive resource Bb5-f1 in mind, and I do miss those.
White's position is defenseless.
18 Rab1 Qh4 19 h3 Nxf2+ 20 Rxf2 Bxh3 -+.
Nxh2 19 Nb3 Qh4 20 Bd7+ Bxd7 21 g3 Rxg3 22 Qxh2 Rh3 23 Rf2 Bxf2 24 Kg2 Rxh2+ 25 Kf1 Bb5+ 0-1
August 7th, 2014
|01:32 am - I liked Guardians of the Galaxy as much as I liked What If Galactus Landed on Rocket's Halfworld?|
I knew "Guardians of the Galaxy" would be the best Marvel movie yet. I knew this because inside my head, I let it be.
Consider "Daredevil", the movie about my favorite costumed hero. I knew it would suck. I knew everything about that movie would be wrong — from the day they announced the green light, and until the day the last of its hellborne DVD copies biodegrades. I never saw it.
I never saw "Daredevil" the movie, and no one shall persuade me. Keri Russell could say "Come on, let's watch the Daredevil movie, and then we'll cosplay Ben Urich, the newspaper reporter Daredevil trusts with his secret identity, and Mrs. Urich."
"Sorry, babe," I'd say.
Then Keri Russell would say "OK, how about we do Matt Murdock and Karen Page?".
"Ha," I'd say. "You could not play Karen Page. Begone, Keri Russell."
"Wait! I have authority to greenlight you to write and direct a Daredevil movie!"
"No," I'd say, with a voice of steel. "What does a comic book nerd have if he doesn't have his principles?!"
When the creator of The Guardians of the Galaxy comic picked up Rocket Raccoon — my favorite non-costumed hero — I said "Yeah, OK, but I don't have to read it." Then news broke about the movie, and I said: "Yes, my stash of Incredible Hulk 271's is my new Apple stock! But I'm not going to see the movie, because that isn't Rocket."
Secretly, I hoped it would be better than good. When Bradley Cooper landed the part of Rocket's voice, I found hope. Then every bit of news about the forthcoming blockbuster was positive, and its release date was my birthday, August 1.
They made the Rocket Raccoon movie for me!, I kidded myself. But I was playing chess that night, and touring Presidential monuments all weekend. That gave Rotten Tomatoes enough time to compile a nearly-unanimous Fresh vote by the top critics (except for San Francisco's Mick LaSalle). My favorite film writer — slate dot com's Dana Stevens — said "Bradley Cooper gives one of his best performances to date as the voice of a trash-talking space raccoon." YES!
First thing I did when I got back to San Mateo Sunday night was to visit the multiplex. Fell asleep before 10cc's "I'm Not in Love" is heard (my chess friend Greg 35 years ago that "I'm Not in Love" reminded him of me, and I could never be pissed off about his equating me with the loser in that song because it's such a good song), woke up to try another screening room, slept through it there, too. So damn tired I was mistaken about having my phone when I left the theater.
Monday was spent readjusting to the Pacific time zone and my own bed. Tuesday there was dinner with Caroline. Wednesday I could stay awake in the theater.
"Guardians of the Galaxy" is smartly funny and wordily funny, but not self-congratulatory about it. It's inventive in ways that remind us there's still scope left for imaginative storytelling in comic book movies. The script shows concern for innocent bystanders!
The movie Rocket is a possible Rocket, in my rigid interpretation of a beloved character. The movie Rocket is a cross between Procyonn the sword-dueling raccoon, Marx the beaver bartender, and Hoban Washburne. If you know Procyonn and Marx and Wash, see what you think — you'll quite understand why I was so delighted with "Guardians".
There's another odd mystical connection between me and the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie.
Fifteen or 20 years ago, I wrote the story "What If Galactus Landed on Rocket Raccoon's Halfworld?". Galactus is getting hungry, his location scout/herald nowhere to be found, and the next planet he comes across is Halfworld. Halfworld is the home of crazy humans, and animals who evolved from pets into caretakers, like our hero Rocket Raccoon. It's time on Halfworld for the annual Masquerade, and a young Loony runs up to Rocket — dressed like the raccoon. "I'm going to play you in the Masquerade, Ranger Rocket!" says the kid, and for the rest of the story, he gets into trouble while trailing Rocket and mimicking his moves. Galactus lands. Meanwhile, the harpies and the killer clowns of Halfworld have determined Masquerade is a prime time to menace the Loonies. Galactus calmly goes about his business, setting up his Matter-Eater-World-Munching machine. The crazy humans are dancing around his big purple feet, oblivious to the danger. The animals are defending against the harpies and clowns. One of the clown cars slams into Galactus' foot, which annoys him enough to finger-zap the clowns to dust. Rocket realizes he'll have to be the diplomat to save his planet from being ravaged. "Galactus!" Rocket yells for attention. Galactus is hungry and grumpy, and without looking, points the finger toward the sound of a talking raccoon. Galactus fires, but the Loony kid dives in, sacrificing himself. There's a tear-jerking death scene, and then Rocket is furious. "Galactus! Leave my planet, and I shall be your herald!!", he cries. I totally hand-waved how Rocket knows to volunteer for this particular duty. Then the illustrator draws some awesome panels in which the kid miraculously struggles to his feet, then mimicks Rocket's play. "I shall be your herald," the kid says, as strongly as he muster. Galactus looks down at the Loony kid, posed and dressed like the raccoon for whom he sacrifices himself twice, and all the nuthouse ballroom dancing and walrus pilots gunning down flying reptiles and clown cars.
And Galactus laughs. Regally and briefly, Galactus laughs, then flies away.
I liked that story. I wish I could share the entire thing with you — I wrote songs and costume descriptions for the Masquerade, consulted air combat history books to choreograph the Wal Rus air victory — but to duplicate it would be lots of work that wouldn't live up to the memory of the original.
If you've seen "Guardians", you understand why I was thinking about my Rocket Raccoon story during Starlord's dance.
August 4th, 2014
|08:45 pm - Problems in developing the king knight after 2…Nxg4 (Potomac Open, round five)|
My friend Patrik wanted to know what to do with this gift he received:
1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 Nxg4 3 e4 d5 4 Be2 Nxf2 5 Kxf2 dxe4
What to do? he asked, which is a certain way to exasperate me. If you cook a fish for a fellow, or tell him what to play in one position, he eats for a day, and gets through one game. If you teach him to fish, or teach him to think about chess, you know how the proverb goes.
Black has no threats. This should not be a problem, I said.
It's a delicate matter to achieve fireworks, he said.
White shouldn't be looking for fireworks. Black has turned the tables by making a bigger sacrifice than White's, so it's becomes White's job to find some king safety and to put the extra piece to work. What's your development plan? I said.
After Nc3 followed by …Bf5. Black has too many different options for me to see any generic plan, said Patrik.
There's nothing generic or general about plans. How is White supposed to get his pieces out?
But he's so scared of the black pawns (which are mostly on the second rank) that the conversation fell aside.
If I had this position as White, I'd change my mind about finding king shelter on the queenside. Ordinarily when White gambits 2. g4, his king is destined for queenside castling because the kingside is gashed. It's not possible here, so I want to "castle by hand" on the kingside by developing the knight, then Rh1-f1 plus Kf2-g1.
The knight can't develop safely, so I think Be2-c4, followed by Ng1-e2 plus Ne2-g3, Rh1-f1, and so forth. g3 is a good square for the knight, shielding the king and looking forward to Ng3xe4-g5 or Ng3-f5 or Ng3-h5-f4 (which sights the key squares e6 and g6).
I have a couple of …Nxf2's in my notes:
Black: Louie Arquie
Kolty Chess Club 9/2/12
1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 Nxg4 3 e4 d5 4 h3
Experimentally, planning for Bd3 (more active than the ritual Be2).
Nxf2 5 Kxf2
And here Louie played
Which solved the knight's development problem, so
White won in 17 moves.
1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 Nxg4 3 e4 d5 4 Be2 Nxf2 5 Kxf2 dxe4 6 Nc3 f5
Which solves White's problem is a different way.
White won in 27 moves.
Related by pattern:
White: Frisco Del Rosario
Black: Vishal Kobla (2002)
Event: Potomac Open
(A45 Queen's Pawn Game, Bronstein G)
1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 Nxg4 3 e4 d6 4 Be2 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6 6 Bg5
The other bishop developments make it easier for Black. Be3 provokes …Ng4, Bg4 fetches …e5. Bg5 inhibits …e7-e5, and prompts …h7-h6, a further weakening of the black kingside.
Bg7 7 Qd2 O-O 8 O-O-O
A most common tabiya.
8 ... c6 9 f4 d5
A loss of time for the player who fell behind in development while grabbing the gambit pawn.
10 e5 Ne4
Black will lose his central presence. If 10…Nfd7, then 11. f5. 10…Ng4 could be the least evil, though it takes time to recycle the knight by …Ng4-h6-f5.
11 Nxe4 dxe4
Here we are. How should White develop the kingside?
12 Bc4 Qc7?
An ineffectual move. The minor pieces should develop first, and how can Black know where his queen belongs? Is Black aiming for …e7-e6? What good would that voluntary weakening do? (Besides two of three pawn moves on the way to e6-f7-g6-h6, White's favorite black pawn structure.)
13 Ne2 a5
13 ... b5 14 Bb3 a5 15 c3 gets nowhere faster. Black trails in center control and development; the pawn rush can't succeed.
14 Ng3 b5 15 Be2 Be6
Was this Black's idea behind 10…Ne4?
White's primary plan after 1. d4 Nf6 2. g4 Nxg4 is to play on an open g-file. At any cost — rook sacrifices on g6 are anticipated.
16 ... Bd5?
16…Bxa2 leaves the bishop with equal scope, and improves the prospects for …a5-a4-a3. The worst aspect of 16…Bd5? is that the threat of 17…e3 forces White to play his most desired move.
17 Rhg1 Re8 18 fxg6 fxg6 19 Nh5!
Part of Capablanca's mystique were two-move maneuvers like this: The knight vacates the g-file for the rook, then comes to bear on g6.
19 ... Bh8 20 Nf4 e6
Black must've decided that sealing off the bishop was better than White's occupation of that square, but Black is essentially three pieces down.
Note that White's attack required another chunk of firewood because Black refrained from …h7-h6.
21 ... Nd7
For Black's waste of time, the knight doesn't arrive in time to be helpful.
22 h5 Nf8 23 hxg6 hxg6 24 Bh6 Kf7
He won't run far.
25 Rdf1 Ke7 26 Bxf8+
Stopping the black king in his tracks. The timing of the tactic is cinematic. The king dithered in summoning the knight that would aid his flight, so the poor horse was the first serious casualty.
26 ... Rxf8
26 ... Kxf8 27 Nxg6+ Kg7 28 Ne7+ Kh7 29 Rh1+ Kg7 30 Qg5#.
27 Nxg6+ 1-0
As usual, White wins on g6.
August 2nd, 2014
|01:24 am - Potomac Open, round one|
Critical position from Capablanca-Corzo, 1901 match (11).
White: Frisco Del Rosario
Black: Isaac Steinkamp (1944)
Event: Potomac Open
(A45 Queen's Pawn Game, Bronstein G)
1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 e6 3 g5 Ng8
That's interesting. Do I want to play 2. c4, a Catalan with a pawn on g5 instead of g3? or 2. e4, a French with a pawn on g5 instead of g2?
4 e4 d5 5 Bg2
This way I might experiment with a bishop recapture on e4 while …Nf6 is not a gimme.
5 ... Ne7 6 Nc3 c6 7 Nge2
Totally with the idea that Black will play …Ne7-f5 eventually, and then I'll have Ne2-g3 in store. 7. Nf3 is surely good, but I wanted to encourage …Be7 to "threaten" the pawn.
7 ... g6 8 h4 Bg7 9 h5 O-O
A flagrant example of "castling into it". The embarrassing thing is that when I was a kid, it was probably fair strategy to play like this, and let me flame out prematurely.
Unsubtle. This is the fastest route to h3, and if it eggs him into 10…e5 when he's behind in development, let's see what happens.
10 ... e5 11 dxe5
If 11…Bxe5, I was planning to stick with the caveman 12. hxg6 fxg6 13. f4 Bg7 14. f5 plus 15. Qh3.
11 ... dxe4 12 Qxe4
Aiming to reach the h-file on the fourth rank.
12 ... Nf5 13 hxg6 fxg6 14 Qc4+
Unless White follows 14. Qc4+ correctly, 14. Bd2 is better.
14 ... Rf7
In case of 14…Kh8, 15. Nf4 would've been good. Here I thought I'd grab a pawn by 15. Rxh7, but I changed my mind because 15…Qe7 would cost time (unless White wants to speculate on 16. Rxg7+). And my second choice — 15. Ne4 — was going to run into 15…Qa5+ 16. Bd2 Qxe5 17. Bc3 Be6, where he's catching up in development. So I settled on a move that felt third-best.
15 Bd2? Qb6?
15 ... Bxe5 16 O-O-O Qe7 shows 15. Bd2 as passive.
16 Ne4 Qxb2 17 Bc3
I felt a jolt because I prepared for 17…Qb5 with 18. Qxf7+ Kxf7 19. Nd6+?? (and after I reminded myself pregame to mind their backward defensive moves!). By the time I composed myself with the thought 18. Qxb5 cxb5 19. Nf6+ was good, he played a lemon.
17 ... Qa3?
With the bishop on c3, it means 18. Rxh7! threatens 19. Rxg7+, but I was relieved at "not 17…Qb5", so I hurriedly played a lesser good move.
18 Nf6+ Bxf6 19 gxf6
I like the declined games where the pawn survives g2-g4-g5, and keeps going. Looks like Capablanca-Corzo(11) now.
19 ... Qa6?20 Bd5!
Bg2-d5 and Nc3-d5 were available since 15…Qb6, but I thought this was the first time one was definitely the best move.
20 ... cxd5 21 Qxc8+ Rf8 22 f7+ Kg7 23 Rxh7+
I knew this wins, but much more in the spirit of Capablanca-Corzo(11) is 23 e6+ d4 24. Nxd4!.
23 ... Kxh7 24 Qxf8 1-0