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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 29, 2012

Howard repeats as Albany Club Champion
By Peter Henner

Dean Howard won the second game of his playoff with me to win the Albany Chess Club Championship for the second straight year.

In both of the playoff games, I had a clear advantage in the end game. However, both games ended in a ferocious time scramble, with each of us having less than two minutes to play.

Howard is at his most dangerous in such situations: In both games he was able to find a tactical resource to win a game, which, if both players had time to properly think about the moves, he would have lost.

Howard's road to the championship was not easy: in the preliminary section, he lost an early game to much lower rated Corey Northrup, when he passed up a sure draw to play for a win; he had only seconds left on his clock and eventually lost. He barely qualified for the final, finishing in a three-way tie for second place with a score of 5-3, and winning a playoff spot on the basis of a complicated tie-breaking formula.

Still, in the finals, he played with great coolness in two lost positions, and was able to find winning moves despite severe time pressure.

Schenectady championship

As previously reported, John Phillips won the Schenectady club championship ahead of Phil Sells.

One of the rising stars in the championship finals was Zach Calderon, who was able to reach an even score of 2 ½ - 2 ½, by defeating Class A player Alan LeCours and veteran player Richard Chu.

Calderon is only a junior-high-school player rated 1630, but he more than justified his place in the finals and we can expect to hear more from him in the next few years.

Dilip Aaron, despite his loss to another surprising young player, Isiah Glessner, won the club consolation tournament with a score of 6-1. 

Second-grade girl wins high school tourney

Gia Peterson, 8, won the multi-county Sequoia High School Chess Championship on March 24, ahead of 26 players, including her two brothers, a fourth-grader and a sixth-grader. She scored a perfect score of 5-0, and raised her rating from 1207 to 1345.

Her father rewarded her by buying her a teddy bear at least three times as large as she.

Howard – Henner
Albany Club playoff

This game was a good fight! The end of the game, involving complicated tactical tricks played with very little time may be of interest.

1.e4 g6, 2.d4 Bg7, 3 Nf3 d6  4 Be2 Nf6 5 Nc3 0-0 6 0-0 c5 7 d5 Nbd7

Dean and I know each other well. I wanted to avoid various openings that he might have expected, especially various double king pawn openings, so I chose a version of the Pirc-Robatsch or Modern defense. Bill Little’s blog describes this move as a departure from theory, but it has been played in some high-level games.

8 h3 Ne8 9 Be3 Ne5 10 N:e5 B:e5 11 Qd2 f5 12 Bh6 Ng7 13 ef  B:f5

Black has not yet equalized, but his position is improving. However, the pin on the Knight on g7 is annoying, and the Bishops have to be careful, lest they get trapped.

14 g4 Bd7 15 Ne4 e6

A crucial attempt to break the position open. I thought for almost 20 minutes on this move.   Taking the pawn with 15 B:b2 leads to a very bad game after 16 Rab1 or Rad1, since White recovers the pawn with initiative.

16 de B:e6 17 Bg5 Qc7 18 Be3 Qc6 19 Ng5 B:b2  20 Rab1 Bd4 21 B:d4

This move looks ugly because it permits White to create a very weak Black d pawn, but  after

21… cd 22 Q:d4 B:a2 23 Rb2 Ne6

Dean told me after the game that he had not seen this move. By attacking the Queen, Black forces the exchange of knights, and gets to bring his Bishop back safely, with a comfortable advantage.

24 N:e6 B:e6 25 f4 b6 26 f5 gf  27 gf Qd5 28 Qg4 + 

This should lose the game for White

28 ..Kh8  (threatening Rg8)  29 Bf3 Qc5+ 30 Kh2 Rg8

30..R:f5 was much better, but Black should still be winning easily

31 Qf4 Raf8 (we were both down to less than three minutes left)  32 Bg4 Bc4 33 Rd1 Qe5 ( I want to trade off pieces to get to a simple win) 34 Q:e5 de 35 Rd7 Rg7 36 R:g7 K:g7 37 c3 Kf6 38 Rd2 Ke7 39 Kg3 Rd8

This week’s problem

I have just moved my rook to challenge for control of the d file, thinking that the exchange of rooks is forced and my extra passed pawn will give me an easy win.

However, 39… Rd8 is a fatal blunder. How did Dean Howard take advantage of it?

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