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Unsound but irresistible fun
Question of the Day
A win by an unsound combination, however showy, fills me with a sense of artistic horror.
— Wilhelm Steinitz, world champion 1866-1894
Yes, yes, Mr. S., you may want to avert your eyes from today’s column, featuring two games marked by multiple blunders, missed opportunities, undeserving winners and a whole lot of fun for the spectators.
GM Alex Wojtkiewicz, Maryland’s highest-rated player, successfully defended his Maryland Open crown at the University of Maryland’s Stamp Union in College Park last weekend. Wojtkiewicz, a native of Poland, went 4- to win the 37-player open section ahead of IM Rashid Ziatdinov and master Yevgeniy Gershov.
Thanks to the Maryland Chess Association’s Denis Strenzwilk for passing along the results and the score of today’s first game.
Ziatdinov’s hopes for first were ruined by Massachusetts expert Kimani Stancil, whose aggressive play right from the start is ultimately rewarded with a bad oversight from the higher-rated player.
White is already inviting complications with 8. Nxd4 Nc5 9. Nf5?, when Black can survive 9…Nxa4 10. Nxg7+ Kf8 11. Bh6 Kg8 12. Qg4 Nxe5.
Black chooses the safer course with 10. g6, but Stancil is determined to attack with 11…Bh6 Re8 12. Be3 Nxa4 13. Nh6+ Kg7 14. Qxa4 Nxe5 15. f4 Nc6 16. f5!?. Ziatdinov again reacts calmly with 16…Bf6 (Bg5 17. f6+ Bxf6 [Kxh6?? 18. Qh4 mate] 18. Nxf7 [Qf4 Rxe3! 19. Qxe3 Bd4] Kxf7 19. Qf4 gives White some pressure) 17. Bd2 d5 18. Nc3 Nd4.
White’s forces already have left the trenches, so retreat is pretty much unthinkable. Stancil on19. Nxf7!? b5! (Kxf7? 20. fxg6+ Kxg6 [hxg6 21. Qxd4] 21. Rxf6+ Qxf6 22. Qxe8+ wins) 20. Nxb5! (digging the hole deeper, but Black’s two bishops leave him better on 20. Nxd8 bxa4 21. Ne6+ Nxe6 22. fxe6 Bxe6 23. Nxa4) Qd7.
Pressure mounts for both sides: 21. fxg6 (double-edged is 21. Bh6+ Kxf7 22. fxg6+ Kxg6 23. Rxf6+ Kxf6 24. Qxd4+ Kg6 25. Qd2 Qg4 26. Nxc7 Re2 27. Qxd5) Qxb5? (Black’s first inaccuracy, as 21…Ne2+ first seems potent: 22. Kh1 Qxb5 23. Bh6+ Kxg6 24. Rxf6+ Kxf6 25. Rf1+ Ke7 26. Qa3+ Kd7 27. Qf3 Nd4 defends and wins) 22. Bh6+ Kg8 (Kxg6 23. Rxf6+ Kxf6 24. Qxd4+ Ke7 25. Re1+ Kd7 26. Ne5+ Kd6 27. a4 Qb6 28. Bf8+! Rxf8 29. Nc4+ wins the queen) 23. Qxb5 axb5 24. Rxf6 hxg6 25. Raf1.
White has emerged from the frenzy a pawn to the good, and his pieces still buzz around the Black king. Perhaps tired of walking a tightrope for so long, Ziatdinov loses his balance on 26. Ng5 Ne6?? (c6 looks solid) 27. R1xf5!, winning a piece and the game.
After 27…gxf5 26. Rg6+ Kh8 29. Nxe6 Ra6, the pin is easily broken on 30. Bg7+ Kh7 (Kg8 31. Bd4+ Kf7 32. Rg7+ Kxe7 33. Rg6+ Kd7 34. Rxa6 also wins for White) 31. Rh6+ Kg8 32. Rh8+ Kf7 33. Rxe8 Rxa2 34. Rc8 Kxe6 35. Rxc7. Black played on a few more moves before resigning a hopeless endgame.
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