Oct 10th, 2009
The Berkeley Chess School hosted a vibrant tournament on Saturday, with over 100 children playing. For complete official results of the tournament, visit the USCF site BCS October Quad. A recurrent theme of the tournament was that of the underdog, coming back from behind to find the hidden win or draw.
Liam Lafferty (a past Best-Game winner) won Best Game at this Quad playing White against Justin Yom (Black) in the following game:
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e3 g6 5. b3 Bg7 6. Bb2 O-O 7. Qd2 Bf5 8. Bd3 Ne4 9. Bxe4 dxe4 10. Nh4 Bg4 11. h3 Bc8 12. g4 e6
At this point White has failed to see that the knight is en pris and plays the following, losing a piece for a pawn. The rest of the game is an uphill scramble for White; the acuity with which Black capitalizes on this slip, and the brilliance with which White converts this lost position into a win is why this game won Best Game.
13. Nxe4 Qxh4 14. O-O-O Qe7 15. g5 Rd8 16. Nf6+ Kh8 17. h4 Bxf6 18. gxf6 Qe8 19. f4 e5 20. h5 Kg8 21. hxg7 fxg7 22. Rdf1 exd4 23. exd4 Qe6 24. f5 Qxf6 25. fxg6 Qe7 26. gxh7+ Kg7 27. d5+ Ne5 28. Bxe5+ Qxe5 29. Qh6+ Kh8 30. Rf8+ Rxf8 31. Qxf8#
The top Quad, Quad #1, was won by Andrew Peng with 2 points. Liam Lafferty, after playing the game above in round 1, went on to win Quad #2 with 2 points. Tim Myers won Quad #3 with 3 points, and Drake Palmer won Quad #4 with 2 points. Quad #5 had a 3 way tie for first place between Togtokh Oyuntseren, Nathan Auyoung and Marco Carnovali with 2 points each. Joel Alcaraz was undefeated with 3 points in Quad #6. Evan Howard was also undefeated with 3 points in Quad #7 and John Xie tied for first place with William J. Li in Quad #8 with 2 points each. Ishan Das was undefeated with 3 points in Quad #9 and Joey Kratz won Quad #10 with 2 wins and a draw. David Yu won Quad #11 with 3 points and Christina Rakhamimov and William Latimer tied for first place in Quad #12 with 2 points each. Nathan Johnson won Quad #13 with 3 points and Tumendemberel Tugsjargal won Quad #14 with 2 wins and a draw. Zakary Yuen won Quad #15 with 3 points and Mike Sayenko, also with 3 points, won Quad #16. Ryan Qiu was undefeated with 3 points in Quad #17 and Carter Langen won Quad #18 with 3 points. James Kwon won Quad #19 with 2 wins and a draw, and Maste Dane B Beatie won Quad #20 with 3 points. Kai Burgmann won Quad #21 with 2 wins and a draw, and Minjee Kwon won Quad #22 with 2 wins and a draw, matching his brother James’ record in Quad #19! Sean Donovan won Quad #23 with 3 points and Oscar Ryan won Quad #24 with a perfect score of 3 points also. Quad #25 was won by Jade Kessinger with 3 points and Lucas Tucker won Quad #26 with 2 points. Finally, Quad #27 was won by Thomas Yu with 2 points.
Chess instructor and National Master Roger Poehlmann analyzed the games in the break-room as the tournament progressed, and noted an intriguing situation in the draw between Josiah Stearman (White) and Max Manga (Black).
From this position, with Black to move:
White is a full piece up and Black’s pawn can’t possibly queen. White would win if Black plays the following hypothetical continuation:
1…Ke3 2. Bf1 Kd2 3. Kg2 Ke1 4. Bb5 Kd2 5. Kxf2 and White wins.
However, the position is not as simple as it looks! There are some exceptional cases where a Bishop plus a “Rook’s Pawn” (on the a-file or h-file where the rook originally started the game) is not able to win!
In the position in the diagram above, Black has enough time to bring his King all the way back to a8 and just wait. White will capture the f2 pawn with his King and then the King will go to b6, shepherding the a-pawn all the way up to a6. Interestingly, this position is only winning if the bishop moves on the same color as the queening square of the pawn (a8). With a white-squared bishop, Ba8+ followed by a7+ that queens the pawn. But with a dark-squared bishop, there is no way to chase the Black king out of the corner; stalemate is the best White can achieve.
A few moves ago, White had both bishops, and he sacrificed one of them for two black pawns, hoping to simplify the game, and White was wise to keep the white-squared bishop to eliminate the “bishop and rook’s pawn of the wrong color” drawing possibility.
However, in the actual game on Oct 10, 2009, Black found the stronger
1…Kc3! and there is no win for White.
Speculatively, we note that the hypothetical move for White 2. Bd1 cuts off the King from the pawn, but allows Black to queen the f-pawn.
The actual game continued
2. a4, Kb4 3. Bb5 secures the a-pawn, but then 3…f1Q! forces White to capture back with 4. Bxf1 and now 4…Kxa5 and draws, since you can’t checkmate with just a King and a bishop.
The moral of the story is that when you have a winning position, don’t assume that anything will win or that defeat is inevitable when you are losing. Often there are hidden resources, but only one exact sequence of moves will reveal them. Black could have just resigned, but instead he played it out and found the hidden draw.