Australian Junior Chess Championships 2014

Tue, 2014-01-21 10:51 -- IM Max Illingworth

[pgn][Event "AJCC U12 girls"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2014.01.17"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Ge, Eva"]
[Black "Kay, Stephanie"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C50"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "65"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2014.01.17"]

{For this week's post I will be covering games based on my own experiences as
a coach at the Australian Juniors. First of all I want to show the sort of
opening that is very common at junior tournaments. There are just some lines
that everyone plays or faces at some point in their chess career!} 1. e4 e5 2.
Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 d6 {A lot of kids answer the Scotch in this passive way as they
haven't fully grasped the idea that you can often defend an attacked piece by
just capturing the attacking piece!} (3... exd4 4. Nxd4 {does give White a
space advantage in the centre, but Black obtains a lead in development in
return with e.g.} Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 {as has been discussed previously on the blog.
}) 4. Bc4 {It actually wasn't so easy to suggest a system against 3...d6 that
was both strong and led to a position that the student would easily understand.
In the end I mainly suggested 4.Bc4 and 4.c3, but some other coaches were
recommending} (4. dxe5 Nxe5 5. Nxe5 dxe5 6. Qxd8+ Kxd8 {. I didn't because I
think this endgame is quite stodgy and not so bad for Black after e.g.} 7. Bc4
f6 8. f4 Bd6 {.}) (4. c3 {was another suggestion I had, transposing to a good
line of the Ponziani with 3.c3 d6?! 4.d4. Then} Nf6 5. Bd3 g6 $1 6. O-O Bg7 7.
h3 O-O 8. Re1 {is objectively OK for Black, but it's also reasonable to
surmise that most kids will put the bishop on e7 instead of g7.}) (4. d5 Nce7
5. c4 f5 6. Nc3 Nf6 7. Bd3 {is objectively pretty good for White, but to play
this well you need to understand the typical closed KID structure which most 1.
e4 players would not be familiar with.}) 4... Be7 5. O-O Na5 $2 {It's quite
common for new players to want to 'do something' rather than get out all their
pieces. These sorts of one-move threats that have no other purpose tend to be
quite time-wasting.} 6. Bb3 (6. Bb5+ c6 7. Bd3 {was stronger as both dxe5 and
b4 are threatened.}) 6... Nxb3 7. axb3 Nf6 8. Nc3 O-O {Surprisingly, neither
side notices that the e5-pawn is hanging here. This is an example of a
'counting' mistake where one (or in this case, both) sides incorrectly judge
whether a piece is safe. In these young divisions the games are very often
decided by who is the better 'counter'.} 9. h3 (9. dxe5 dxe5 10. Nxe5 {was a
free pawn. If you think your opponent has blundered, you shouldn't just
believe them - have faith in yourself! But if the decision is quite critical
then it doesn't hurt to double-check.}) 9... Re8 10. Re1 h6 11. Be3 Bd7 12. b4
a6 13. Qd3 (13. dxe5 dxe5 14. Nxe5 Bxb4 {is an example of LPDO - the
undefended b4-pawn is Black's saving tactical grace.}) 13... Be6 14. b5 axb5
15. Rxa8 Qxa8 16. Nxb5 Qa5 17. Bd2 Qa2 {Black tries to be tricky by
threatening ...Bc4 but in doing so overlooks the simple stuff.} (17... Qb6 {
would have been pretty much fine for Black, with the bishop pair to make up
for White's space.}) 18. Nxc7 {From here White displays good technique to win.}
Rc8 19. Nxe6 fxe6 20. dxe5 dxe5 21. Bc3 Rd8 22. Qb5 Qa7 23. Qxe5 Qb6 24. Ba5
Qa6 25. Bxd8 Bxd8 26. Rd1 Be7 27. Qb8+ Bf8 28. Rd8 Nh7 29. Qc7 Qa1+ 30. Kh2
Qxb2 31. Kg3 Qb4 32. Ne5 Qxe4 33. Qf7+ 1-0[/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Wahroonga AUS U/16 Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2014.01.15"]
[Round "9.5"]
[White "Han, Eddie"]
[Black "Carolin Unkovich, George"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A43"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "62"]
[EventDate "2014.01.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "AUS"]
[SourceDate "2014.01.17"]

{It can be quite tempting to prepare a surprise opening before the game to
avoid the opponent's preparation (not to mention their coach's!) and also put
early pressure on the opponent. But you have to be careful with how you go
about this. As this game shows, it's no use having a position you know is good
if you don't know how to play it!} 1. d4 (1. e4 {is Eddie's usual opening.})
1... Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 $5 {Objectively not the best move (this leads to a Schmid
Benoni which is considered a bit better for White), but it avoids the majority
of the opponent's preparation. If you are the stronger player it makes sense
to meet a surprise with a little surprise of your own, as you will likely be
stronger in a position neither of you are familiar with.} ({White would no
doubt have been prepared to the hilt after} 2... d5 3. Bg5 {, and as Giri once
found to his cost against Short, the Veresov can be a tricky beast to tame if
you aren't quite well prepared.}) 3. d5 d6 4. e4 g6 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. Be2 O-O 7.
O-O {It's probably an advantage for White to have Nc3 in as opposed to c2-c4
as White can often use the c4-square for his knight, where it stops Black
freeing his position with ...e6 and also watches over the queenside. Black's
main pawn break in this position is ...b5 (which may be prepared with ...
Na6-c7, ...Bd7, ...Rb8 and ...a6, for instance). White's usual response will
be an e4-e5 break at some point to open up the centre.} a6 8. a4 {The
inclusion of these moves is in White's favour as now it's not easy to develop
the queenside pieces in a way that supports ...b5.} Qc7 9. Nd2 $1 {The
exclamation mark is for the move's thematic value.} Nbd7 10. f4 Rb8 11. Qe1 {
This is the sort of position where Black can easily get ground down, despite
the engine's relative optimism as Black lacks a plan.} e6 $5 {Objectively bad,
but a good practical decision, changing the course of the game and demanding
accuracy from White. George's win in the Under 16 wasn't just due to his
playing strength and talent but also his pragmatism and understanding of his
opponent's weaknesses.} 12. a5 $2 {This gives Black everything he wants.} (12.
dxe6 fxe6 13. Qh4 {is objectively very good for White, who can play Nf3-g5 or
even an e5/f5 break to enhance the pressure.}) 12... exd5 13. exd5 {Black
plays this position with a lot of energy and soon White is busted.} Re8 $1 14.
Qd1 b5 $1 15. axb6 Nxb6 16. Bf3 Bb7 17. Nb3 c4 18. Nd2 (18. Na5 Qc5+ 19. Kh1
Bxd5 20. Nxd5 Nbxd5 {was better but still winning for Black.}) 18... Nfxd5 19.
Nxd5 Nxd5 20. Bxd5 Bxd5 21. c3 Bb7 22. Qg4 f5 23. Qg3 Re2 24. Nf3 Qc5+ 25. Kh1
Rbe8 {This position is not quite a zugzwang but it's getting there! Black's
domination is complete.} 26. h3 Rc2 27. Ne1 Rce2 28. Nf3 Bf6 29. Ra3 Rc2 30.
Ne1 Rxc1 31. h4 Qe3 0-1[/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Wahroonga AUS U/18 Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2014.01.13"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Smirnov, Anton"]
[Black "Zelesco, Karl"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C11"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "85"]
[EventDate "2014.01.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "AUS"]
[SourceDate "2014.01.17"]

{Of course, it is not just important to understand your opponent; you should
also understand yourself as a player. Anton had clearly done his homework in
repairing a hole in his repertoire and this paid off in his key game against
Karl Zelesco, who had also had a fantastic Australian Championship down in
Springvale.} 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 (4. Bg5 {was Anton's former
line, but considering Karl's work ethic in regard to preparation it makes
sense to deviate from your usual stuff at some point.}) 4... Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6.
Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Qd2 O-O 9. Be2 (9. O-O-O {is a blunder because of} c4 $1
{followed by ...b5-b4, and White will get mated soon.}) 9... a6 (9... b6 10.
O-O f6 {and the like have been quite trendy lately, with ideas of} 11. exf6
Nxf6 {and jumping into that e4-outpost. White does get e5 for his own knight
but Black is fine here.}) 10. O-O b5 11. a3 {This move is a useful
prophylactic against ...b4, which would be played even after the retreat} (11.
Nd1 {.}) 11... Qb6 12. Nd1 a5 13. c3 a4 $6 {I'm assuming that was prepared by
Karl, but I'm not convinced by this move. Sure, it stops White keeping the
a6-bishop entombed with dxc5 and b4 (as would happen after the obvious 13...
Ba6) but now Black doesn't have a pawn break on the queenside and White can
just build up comfortably on the kingside as he did in the game. Perhaps Black
trusted the engine who gives 13...a4 as its first move.} (13... Ba6 14. dxc5
Bxc5 15. b4 Bxe3+ 16. Nxe3 {is a very pleasant structure for White who has
exchanged the 'right' bishops for the position (White's e2-bishop is far
better than the miserable prelate on a6).}) (13... cxd4 14. cxd4 b4 {as
indicated in 'The Modern French' would be more in accordance with the demands
of the position. Once Black trades his bad bishop with ...Ba6 he is always
fine, unless there's some f4-f5 hack.}) 14. Nf2 (14. Bd3 Na5 15. Qe2 {was a
more accurate way to get out of the way of ...Nc4. Then despite the engine's
optimism I can't find a decent plan for Black. If he puts his knights on b3
and c4 White can ignore them and probably mate Black's king.}) 14... Ba6 (14...
Na5 $1 {and ...Nc4 would have been a little annoying. If} 15. dxc5 Bxc5 $1 {
and it matters that there's no knight on d1 defending the bishop.}) 15. Nd3 {
A very good move to stop Black's queenside play. Now I think White is already
quite a bit better.} Rfc8 16. dxc5 (16. f5 $5 {looked good too, but there's no
need to rush in this sort of position. If Black goes ...f6 at some point it
tends to play into White's hands as White is stronger on the kingside.}) 16...
Nxc5 17. Nxc5 Bxc5 18. Bxc5 Qxc5+ 19. Kh1 Na5 20. Nd4 Nc4 21. Bxc4 dxc4 22.
Rae1 {This structure is just fantastic for White. Black can try for ...Bb7/...
Qd5 stuff but White's plan is to just go f5 and mate Black's king!} Rd8 23. f5
$1 exf5 24. Qg5 $1 {Very often kids forget that chess isn't checkers and you
aren't forced to immediately recapture a piece. Anton plays the rest of the
game like a true champion.} h6 25. Qxf5 Ra7 26. Qf3 $6 {This move looks very
tempting, threatening both Nc6 and e6, but there's a defence!} (26. e6 Qxf5 27.
Rxf5 fxe6 28. Rfe5 $1 {and Rxe6 would consolidate White's positional advantage
of his far superior minor piece and leave him favourite to win.}) 26... Rf8 (
26... Bc8 $1 {could have been unpleasant as simplifications with e6 peter out
to equality and} 27. Nc6 Rd3 $1 28. Qf2 Qxf2 29. Rxf2 Rc7 {sees Black
untangling, with equal chances.}) 27. e6 $1 {Black doesn't get a second chance.
} Bc8 $2 (27... fxe6 28. Qxf8+ Qxf8 29. Rxf8+ Kxf8 30. Rxe6 {was very
unpleasant but by no means over.}) 28. Nc6 Bb7 29. Qxf7+ Rxf7 30. exf7+ Kh7 31.
Nxa7 {Now it's over as the attempted perpetual check fails.} Bxg2+ 32. Kxg2
Qg5+ 33. Kf3 Qf5+ 34. Ke3 Qd3+ 35. Kf4 Qd6+ 36. Re5 g6 37. Kg4 Qxe5 38. f8=Q
Qh5+ 39. Kg3 Qg5+ 40. Kh3 Qh5+ 41. Kg2 Qd5+ 42. Qf3 Qd2+ 43. Kh1 1-0[/pgn]

[pgn][Event "U12"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2014.01.18"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Gunwardene, Chanuth"]
[Black "Pogrebinsky, Michael"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B14"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "61"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2014.01.17"]

{For our final game I'll show how a basic knowledge of key middlegame
positions can be more important than memorising opening moves. Black was the
heavy favourite in this game but let his guard down after winning a pawn.
Remember, when you have a winning position it is especially important to
concentrate doubly hard as your opponent will do everything they can to turn
the game around and you have to be on your toes!} 1. d4 {Personally I think 1.
e4 is a better opening to 'start out' with, but to each their own!} d5 2. c4 e6
3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 c5 $5 {The Semi-Tarrasch isn't a bad opening at all as it's
very solid and almost no one remembers how to meet it.} 5. e3 (5. cxd5 Nxd5 6.
g3 {is a good choice if you want to give Black zero winning chances, but
fortunately not many people realise this.}) 5... Nc6 6. Bd3 (6. a3 {isn't just
a useful waiting move but also prepares dxc5 Bxc5 b4 to take some space (which
is why Black is best advised not to copy with 6...a6). That said these 'tempo
battles' won't exactly play a decisive role in a junior game.}) 6... cxd4 7.
exd4 Bd6 (7... dxc4 8. Bxc4 Be7 {would be a more solid way to develop.}) 8. O-O
O-O 9. Bg5 (9. c5 {was interesting if White wanted to avoid an IQP. White will
then go for b4-b5 to dominate the queenside while taking any sting out of an ..
.e5 break.}) 9... dxc4 10. Bxc4 h6 11. Bh4 a6 12. Bg3 $6 {White started off
well but breaking the pin like this is a bit friendly. Also exchanges will
favour Black in general in an IQP position as the more pieces that are on the
board, the more important the extra space offered by the d4-pawn is.
Conversely in an endgame this pawn could prove very weak.} (12. Re1 {getting
more pieces out would be better.}) 12... b5 13. Bb3 Bb7 14. Re1 {Normally it's
good to play this move, but maybe it was time to bail out with} (14. d5 exd5
15. Nxd5 {and hope to draw.}) 14... Rc8 15. Rc1 Na5 16. Bc2 Nc4 {Black has
understood the position much better than his opponent and completely outplayed
him, but strangely relaxes a bit from here.} 17. b3 Nb6 $2 {Black is still
better after this, but he could have won already.} (17... Nb2 $1 18. Qe2 Bb4 {
just wins material. If} 19. Nb1 Bxf3 20. gxf3 Bxe1 21. Qxe1 Qxd4 {Black has ...
Nd3 coming to save the b2 steed.}) 18. Ne4 Bxg3 19. Nxf6+ Qxf6 20. hxg3 Bxf3
21. Qxf3 Qxd4 {Black is up a pawn, but at least White has got rid of his weak
pawn and can try to draw.} 22. Red1 $2 (22. Rcd1 {was better to get out of the
pin, but White's mistake actually wins him the game!}) 22... Qc3 $4 {
Completely forgetting about Bh7! As I say, you have to concentrate on every
move because one blunder can be enough to spoil a really good game!} (22... Qb2
23. Qe2 g6 {would have been winning for Black.}) 23. Bh7+ {Now it's over, but
for Black!} Kxh7 24. Rxc3 Rxc3 25. Qxc3 Nd5 26. Rxd5 exd5 27. Qc2+ g6 28. Qc5
Rd8 29. Qe7 Rc8 30. Qxf7+ Kh8 31. Qxd5 {Thanks for reading, and I hope you got
a feel of what it's like to play and coach at the Juniors.} 1-0[/pgn]