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MACA Chess Horizons Magazine Article
 New England Masters 2016
 FM Jacob Chudnovsky
  May 2016

From March 17th to the 20th, I had the privilege of playing in the first, and hopefully far from last, New England Masters tournament to be hosted at the Boylston Chess Club. This iteration of the New England Masters was the brainchild of Farzad Abdi and Andrew Hoy and the first of its kind for the Boylston – a multiday, FIDE-style tournament, played under FIDE rules and a relatively long FIDE time control, and FIDE rated as well. The tournament was very well organized, and was run smoothly and professionally by TD Frank Vogel. Every round started on time, and pairings for each round were posted in advance, including online, allowing the rare luxury (for a weekend Swiss) of being able to prepare for your next opponent. Playing only one or two games a day, at the comfortable time control of G/90 + 30s increment, made for less stress and higher quality chess. I certainly hope this tournament and others like it become a new tradition at the Boylston.  

The Masters section was dominated by Darwin Yang, who finished in clear first with 6/7, a full point ahead of the field. Yang is originally from Texas and is currently a student at Harvard. Although technically still an IM, Yang has three GM norms and only needs to raise his FIDE rating to get the title. Seeded second, he took quick draws against the number 1 and 3 seeds – GM Alexander Ivanov and IM Denys Shmelov, respectively – and won his other four games, including against the number 4 and 5 seeds, namely myself and Chris Chase. Shmelov ended up in clear second, overtaking me with a head-to-head victory in the last round. 3rd-5th places were shared by Ivanov, myself, and 12-year-old Carissa Yip. A special mention must be made of Carissa’s performance. She played well above her rating, getting 3/4 with three half-point byes and holding IM Shmelov to a draw with black along the way. 

In the U2200 section, first and second places were shared by Matthew Manzo and Jerry Li. Curiously, Jerry Li had byes in the 6th and 7th rounds, but no one was able to overtake him. 3rd- 5th were shared by Elliott Wu, Natasha Christiansen, and Robert Oresick. Bob is well known in the Boston chess community for the tournaments he has organized, his photos, his blogging, and other activities. He had a spectacular tournament, gaining nearly 180 rating points. 

Let’s take a look at some key games from the tournament. 


IM Darwin Yang (2568)
FM Christopher Chase (2390)
New England Masters – Masters’ Section (7)
Black played an unusual version of the King’s Indian in which he delayed the development of his g8 knight in order to get in f7-f5 earlier. Unfortunately for him, the outcome of this experiment was the black king getting stuck in the center, protected by a very wobbly wall of pawns. Here, White methodically removes the defenders in front of the black king and crashes through.

17. g3! (removing the first defender) fxg3 18. hxg3 Kf7 
More tenacious would have been 18… h5!? to stop the coming g3-g4 thrust, and after 19. Rdf1 Qd7 Black is holding for the moment, e. g. 20. Bxh5?! Rxh5 21. Rxh5 Nxh5 22. g4 Nf4 and looking much better than a few moves earlier. However, White should still be able to break through sooner or later, as there is no safe place for the black king

19. Rdf1 Qd7 20. g4! (removing the second defender) Bxg4 21. Bxg4 Qxg4 22. Rhg1 Qh3 23. Qb5
And now the white queen invades to complete the attack, while Black has no pieces with which to stop the incursion.
23… Rhg8 24. Qc6
With no defense against White’s numerous threats, including 25. Rxg7+, 25. Bg5, 25. Ne4, and 25. Qxc7+, Black resigned. With this crushing win, Darwin Yang assured himself of clear first and ended his tournament on an emphatic note.
FM Jacob Chudnovsky (2404)
IM Denys Shmelov (2467)
New England Masters – Masters’ Section (7)
This game decided the fate of second place in the tournament. Do you remember my mention of the way the advance pairings allowed for pregame preparation? To quote the immortal wisdom of Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Well, I managed to prepare for my opponent so incompetently that I ended up worse straight out of the opening, with white. I chose a line against the Caro-Kann in which my opponent had been recently defeated by GM Eugene Perelshteyn. However, as the game went on, I soon realized I had prepped straight into an advantage for black. I would have been better off doing no prep at all. To avoid repeating my mistake, when preparing a particular line for an opponent based on a game he/she recently lost, remember to ask two questions: (1) Was the loss actually due to the opening? (2) How could they deviate from the way they played in their lost game?
After being on the defensive throughout the game, in the diagrammed position White looks OK. At the moment, attacking ideas of … h3 and … Ng3+ don’t work for Black, the d4 knight holds the b6 bishop at bay, and White’s weak pawn on c3 is balanced by Black’s weak pawn on d5. White dreams of starting his own attack with a4-a5 and b4-b5. However…

26… Qf4!
A strong and highly versatile move. Black frees up c7 for the bishop to set up a battery against h2, pins the e3 knight, prepares … Ng3+ by allowing his queen to be able to come to the h-file if White accepts the sacrifice, and creates the possibility of … h3 if White moves the d4 knight. 26… Qf4 also sets up a devious trap…
27. Nf1?
…into which White jumps with both feet. This move attempts to defend against all of Black’s threats at once – and loses by force. To be clear, Black’s last move dispelled the notion that the position is equal, and White does not have a lot of good ideas. One example of a bad idea: 27. a5 Bc7 28. Nf1 Ng3+! 29. Kf1 (29. hxg3? hxg3+ 30. Kg1 Qh4+-) Nxf1 30. Qxf4 Bxf4 31. Rxf1 (31. Kxf1 Bxh2) Bd2! 32. Ne2 (32. Ra3 Rc8 33. Ne2 is not an improvement) Rhe8 33. Kf2 Be3+, and after 34. Ke1 White’s position will be ripped apart, e. g. 34…Bf4 35. h3 d4 36. cxd4 Rxd4 -+. Relatively solid was 27. Rad1, although Black could pile on pressure with 27… Rde8, and if 28. Nf1, Black has 28…Ng3+! 29. hxg3 hxg3+ 30. Kg1 Qh4 31. Rxe8+ Rxe8 32. Ne3 (Black threatens 32... Rh8) Bxd4 33. cxd4 Qh2+ 34. Kf1 Qh1+ 35. Ke2 Qxg2+ 36. Kd3 Qxf3, and White’s piece is no match for Black’s three pawns and attack.
27…Ng3+! 28. Kg1 
28. hxg3? hxg3+ 29. Kg1 Qh4 -+ as above
28… Qxd2 29. Nxd2 Rc8!!
The key move, which I had missed in my calculations. I thought Black had to play 29…Nf5 (or the similar 29…Bxd4+ 20. cxd4 Nf5), and that after 30. N2b3 White would maintain approximate equality, e. g. 30…Rc8 31. Nc5! Instead, however, Black leaves the knight on g3 hanging and creates unanswerable threats against White’s c3 pawn, which holds the entire position together. As c3 falls, the whole house of cards comes tumbling down with it.

30. a5 Ba7 31. N2b3 Rxc3
Black would have replied 31…Rxc3 to almost any move by White, including a rook move to defend that pawn.
32. Nc5 Rxc5! (the final finesse) 33. bxc5 Bxc5 34. hxg3 Bxd4+ 35. Kh2 Bxa1 36. Rxa1 hxg3+ 37. Kxg3 Rd8.
White is simply down two pawns, and Black’s accurate last move has prevented any active counterplay. Therefore, White resigned. 
GM Alexander Ivanov (2596)
FM Jacob Chudnovsky (2404)
New England Masters – Masters’ Section (5)
Earlier, Black turned an anti-Marshall into something like a Marshall, sacrificing a pawn for dynamic compensation. I suspect the sacrifice is objectively unsound, but that’s not easy to prove over the board. For the pawn, Black got the bishop pair and piece activity. Several exchanges and a bit of maneuvering followed, and White retained his extra pawn, while Black retained the two bishops. Now, White plans Nf1-e3 and Nf3-d2 in order to win the c4 pawn or exchange one of Black’s bishops.
Black does not worry about defending c4 and counterattacks White’s b2 pawn instead. Now 29. N3d2 is impossible, and 29… Bxf3 is threatened, for example 29. Ne3 Bxf3 30. gxf3 Re8!, and with no way for White to win the c4 pawn, and …Bc5, …Qf4, and…Re6 coming (e. g. 31. Rd1 Bc5 32. Qxc4? Rxe3! -+), White seems to be in trouble despite his extra pawn.
29. Nd4
This prevents 29… Bxf3 and prepares 30. Ne3. However, White’s b2 and g2 pawns are both vulnerable…
29…Qb7 30. Ne3 Be4!
Judging by GM Ivanov’s reaction when I played this move, I believe he had not foreseen it. The c4 pawn is free for the taking, but it cannot be taken for free. White has to choose which pawn to exchange for the one on c4: b2 or g2. Moreover, he cannot avoid the exchange and go back to maneuvering, as the b2 pawn cannot be protected. 31. Nxc4 Bxg2 leaves White with two connected passed pawns but an open king; even though after e. g. 32. f3 Bh3 Black has no specific threats, it’s a scary position to play for White, especially given that my opponent was in time pressure by this point. With all these things considered, he chose the safer route.
31. Qxc4 Qxb2
Now that White has failed either to win a second pawn or to deprive Black of the bishop pair, and Black has some initiative against White’s king on the first and second ranks, Black is at least equal despite being down a pawn. However, White certainly should not lose. A logical conclusion to the game would be for White to defend against the threats to the king, and for Black to win the c3 pawn, likely at the cost of exchanging one of his bishops for one of White’s knights, leading to total equality. On the other hand, the computer, which knows not fear of gods, men, or beasts, suggests 32. Ne6!? Qd2 33. Rf1 Bd3 34. Qc7… but after some excitement, it ends up in a drawn endgame anyway. However, finding himself in time trouble that was both severe and (this being a sudden-death time control) permanent, GM Ivanov proceeded to self-destruct in the next two moves.
32. f3
This is OK, but a step onto a slippery slope.
32… Qd2
White seemed surprised again upon seeing this move.
33. Qe2?
And this is a blunder that puts White on the brink of defeat. 33. Re2 was fine, as 33…Rb1+? 34. Kf2 does not lead to checkmate but loses a piece, and after 33…Qc1+, either 34. Kf2 or 34. Nf1 is playable (34. Nf1 Rb1?? 35. Rxe4 +-).
33…Qxc3 34. fxe4
34. Nb5? Rxb5! 35. fxe4 Bc5! was even worse
34… Qxd4 35. Qf3?
The final, fatal error. White had to unpin the e3 knight with 35. Kh1! and try to hold the position a pawn down after 35…Qxe4 36. Nf1.
35… Bc5!
Now White can’t play either 36. Kf1 Rb3 or 36. Kh1 Qxe3! Thus, the pin is now unbreakable and Black will win the e3 knight. You could say that White will not survive past knightfall.
36. Kf2 Rb3
Not 36…Rb2+ 37. Re2
37. Qf5
White has no defense against the threat of 37…Rxe3 38. Rxe3 Qd2+ 39. Qe2 Bxe3+, e. g. 37. Qf4 g5, so he tries a couple final tricks.
37… g6
Bizarrely, Black could fall into the trap and still win: 37… Rxe3 38. Qc8+ Kh7 39. Qf5+ g6! 40. Qxf7+ Kh8 41. Qe8+ Kg7, but this is totally unnecessary.
38. Qd5 Qf6+.
Black will take the knight on the next move.
White resigned.
This was my second lifetime victory against GM Ivanov but my first with black. Indeed, I would like to take this opportunity to clear up a longstanding misunderstanding. In most databases, one can find a game that I supposedly won against GM Alexander Ivanov with black in the 1994 Chicago Open. This game even gained a few minutes of fame, with the late GM Larry Evans using it for one of his puzzles in the “What’s the Best Move?” column in Chess Life. The only problem is, I didn’t beat GM Ivanov in that game. I defeated an entirely unrelated gentleman named Alexander Ivanov (a 2200+ or 2300+ master, if memory serves). It is only now, 22 years later, that I was fortunate enough to gain a full point against GM Ivanov with black.  
Matthew Manzo (1926)
Paul Hodgden (1958)
New England Masters – U2200 (6)
Up to this point, White has been outplaying Black little by little in the English / reverse Sicilian. However, White’s last move, 17. a4, has made the a4 and b4 pawns loose, creating opportunities for counterplay.

17… Nd4?!
Better was 17…Bd5! Black threatens to win a pawn by 18…Bxe4 19. dxe4 Qxd2 20. Nxd2 Nxb4. 18. b5 runs into a similar problem: 18…axb5 19. axb5 Bxe4 20. dxe4 Qxd2 21. Nxd2 Nd4. If 18. Qb2, defending the pawn and avoiding the queen trade (for example, 18. Rb1 Bxe4 19. dxe4 Qxd2 20. Nxd2 Rcd8 looks favorable for Black), Black has 18…a5! 19. b5 Nb4 with an excellent position.
18. Nxd4 Qxd4?!
And here better was 18… exd4, not only forcing White to defend the a4 pawn but also taking away the c3 square from White’s pieces. After 19. a5 Bd5, Black seems OK.
19. Qc3! Rfd8
Even here 19…Bd5!? may have been better. 20. Nd2 (threatening 21. Bb7) c5 21. bxc5 Qxc3? Although the game continued for a long time after this move, this is the decisive error. Black hands White a crucial extra tempo and ends up losing a pawn. Correct was 21…Rxc5 22. Qxd4 Rxd4 23. Rxc5 bxc5, and after 24. Rc1 Rxa4
25. Ne4! White is a little better, but the game goes on with equal material and play for both sides. 22. Rxc3 Rxc5 23. Rxc5 bxc5 24. Rc1 Rd4 In the analysis above, this position arises with Black to move – a key difference.
25. Ne4!
Black likely missed this move in his calculations. Now White wins a pawn and goes on to convert it without too much trouble.

25…c4 26. Nc5 Bf7 27. e3! Rd6 28. dxc4 a5 29. Nb7 Ra6 30. Rd1!? Bxc4
Losing an exchange, but the position is winning for White regardless.

31. Rd8+ Kf7 32. Nd6+ Rxd6 33. Rxd6 Bb3 34. Ra6 Bxa4 35. Rxa5 Bb3 36. Be4 h6 37. Kg2 Bc4 38. Ra7 Ke6 39. h4 Bb3 40. Kh3 Bc4 41. g4 Be2 42. Ra8 Bf1+ 43. Kg3 Be2 44. Bf3 Bc4 45. Be4 Be2 46. Bc2 Bc4 47. Rb8 Be2 48. Bb3+ Kd6 49. Rh8 Kd7 50. Rh7 h5 51. Rxh5 f5 52. f3 e4 53. fxe4 Bxg4 54. Rg5 g6 55. exf5 Bxf5 56. Kf4 Bb1 57. e4 Ke8 58. Ke3 Kf8 59. Rg1.
With this solid positional win in the penultimate round, Matthew Manzo caught up to Jerry Li for the lead. He maintained this position with a lastround draw to claim his share of 1st-2nd. Congratulations to the winners, and major kudos to Farzad and Andrew for organizing and running such a great tournament. Many people have good ideas, but it takes talent and perseverance to turn those ideas into reality. Farzad and Andrew have said that they plan to organize more strong tournaments at the Boylston in the near future. Having played in the New England Masters, I have full confidence that they can make these tournaments happen and look forward to playing in them.
About the Author
FM Jacob Chudnovsky has been studying and playing chess since the age of nine. He was one of the top scholastic players in the U.S. in the 90s, with notable results including a tie for first in the 1993 National Junior High School Championships, a tie for 7th-14th in the 1994 World U-14 Championship, winning the 1993 National 9th Grade Championship, and winning the 1996 U.S. Junior Open U-17 Championship. Jacob was ranked second in the U.S. in his age group throughout most of his scholastic playing career. Later he played first board for his college and grad school teams in intercollegiate and open team tournaments. After being mostly on hiatus from serious chess for a number of years, he has resumed chess competition, writing, and teaching over the past year.
Photo credit: Steve Stepak