GM Larry Kaufman (2452) - IM Jonathan Schroer (2437) 1-0
IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (2425) - FM Ron Simpson (2330) 1-0
WGM Sabina Foisor (2367) - NM Carlito Agner (2251) 0.5-0.5
IM Ray Kaufman (2433) - NM Craig Jones (2286) 1-0
The Baltimore Kingfishers scored a lopsided 3.5-0.5 match victory against the Carolina Cobras. However, the games were much closer than the final score. Let's take a look at each game.
The Board 1 battle between GM Larry Kaufman and IM Jonathan Schroer began as a Queen's Gambit Declined: Exchange Variation. The novelty occured with 15. Rfc1 (Only one game, played by two German Masters, continued with Black's 14... Bd6 line and 15. Bf5 was played with an eventual white win). Larry thought for over 20 minutes after 18... Re6, finally deciding on Bf5. Apparently, what he was worried about was the position after 20. Qg4:
Here, Schroer could have gone for the shot 20... Qxf2+! 21. Kxf2 Bxf5 when white probably has to return the queen with 22. Qh4 Bxb1+ 23. Qxf6 gxf6 24. Rxb1 and black has an extra (though doubled) pawn. After Schroer missed this opportunity, Larry took over the initiative, but it was far from won. On move 33, Larry could have made the win clearer with Ra1 or Ra2, as the a6 and c6 pawns will fall in short order and the b-pawn will be much more difficult for black to try to hold than the a-pawn as in the game. The final mistake by black was 67... Bb4 where Be7 instead keeps hopes of holding a draw alive. With the long victory, GM Larry Kaufman is off to a nice 2-0 start to the season, and he leads the Kingfishers with 8.0 USCL MVP Points.
On Board 2, the game between IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat and FM Ron Simpson moved away from well-trodden lines pretty quickly. Enkhbat's usual Caro-Kann defense was met by the novelty 7. Qb3 (An unusual attempt at mixing things up; it's difficult to say what move would have been better as white only scores 27.2% in 138 games in the position after move 6). There was a strange relay error of 8. Qc2 instead of gxf3, but clearly a master would not drop a piece when there is a simple recapture, so a takeback occurred (We were also assured that the player had made the correct move 8. gxf3 on a physical board). Enkhbat only though for more than 10 minutes on the move 11... e5, deciding to open up the center for an eventual rook invasion. Simpson tried to keep play sharp, choosing to allow a 2 Rook for Queen and Pawn trade by playing 21. cxd5:
21... Rbxb2+ 22. Qxb2 Rxb2+ 23. Kxb2 and a draw was offered by Simpson around here. However, Enkhbat smoothly demonstrated that he knew how to win the position by working to advance his kingside pawns. IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat has put his earlier defeats behind him and will look to repeat his triumphant performance for the rest of the season.
Board 3 between WGM Sabina Foisor and NM Carlito Agner opened with a King's Indian Defense; and the novelty was 11. Kh1 (White only has a 27.8% score in 18 games after 10... Qe7; other white tries that have scored are 11. Be3, 11. Bg5, and 11. b3). Both players seemed fine out of the opening, but Foisor's 16. f4 allowed Agner to keep white from maneuvering in the center with 16... e4 (16. f3 kept the possibility of more open play). White's pieces were slightly cramped through the middle game, and black was able to take advantage by lifting the queen's rook to the h-file! Foisor slowly built toward a break on the g-file and found some play. For instance, Agner had to watch out for the blunder 29... Bf7??
30. Qg8+! Bxg8 31. Rxg8#. Instead, Agner played 29... Qg7 and allowed Foisor the opportunity to trade Rook and Bishop for Queen with Rg8+ from moves 31 to 34. However, Foisor declined - probably due to the relatively closed position, which would make it difficult for the queen to assert dominance. Agner might have even been better if he had allowed the trade possibility for one more move with 34... Bxb2 35. Rg8+ Qxg8 36. Bxg8 Kxg8 and white's remaining pieces will have difficulty finding useful points of attack. Finally, the game ended with a repetition as black's king was kept stuck in the corner. WGM Sabina Foisor scored a well-timed draw that clinched this week's match victory. Look for her to try to improve the result as she continues to gear up to play for the US in the Women's Olympiad.
The game between IM Ray Kaufman and NM Craig Jones on Board 4 transposed, from an unusual move order, into a Queen's Indian Defense where the novelty was 11. 0-0-0 (Each of 4 previous games had white [+3 -1] kingside castling and capturing on c3 with the b-pawn). White pushed for a quick kingside assault while black positioned to play in the center. In the following position, Jones decides to go for the attack with 21. gxh6?!:
21... Qxh4 22. Rxg7+ Kh8 23. Qxe5 Nf6 24. Qf5?? (24. Rg5 suggested by IM Ray Kaufman - although white is still worse, it keeps chances to complicate). See if you can find the win:
24... Rxd2! 25. Rxd2 Qe1+ 26. Rd1 Qe3+ and Jones resigned in view of 27. Kb1 Rxd1+ 28. Bxd1 Bxe4+ winning the white queen (it is also mate in 7). IM Ray Kaufman makes his season debut with a spectacular finish. Hope his future games are just as entertaining!