GM Sergey Erenburg (2646) - GM Alex Lenderman (2608) 0.5-0.5
GM Larry Kaufman (2452) - GM Pascal Charbonneau (2566) 0-1
IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (2425) - NM Matt Herman (2313) 0.5-0.5
NM Ian Schoch (2245) - NM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (2289) 0-1
The Baltimore Kingfishers fell to the New York Knights by 3-1. With Boston's victory over New Jersey, Baltimore falls to 4th place in the Eastern Division. Three teams (Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Manhattan) are one match point behind the Kingfishers for the final playoff spot.
The Board 1 battle between GM Erenburg and GM Lenderman was not as exciting as anticipated, but it did have some interesting points. They opened with a Caro-Kann: Advanced Variation. The position with 7... f6 8. 0-0 has been played three times, all within the past two years. 8... fxe5 was tried once before with white winning (the other two times, 8... Ne7 was tried with +1 =1 for white). GM Lenderman played the novelty with 9... 0-0-0 (9... Nxe5 played previously). Now, take a look at the position after 12... Qd7:
In the game, played continued 13. Nxe6 Bxe6 14. Rxe6 Nf6 (GM Erenburg said he missed this move as he thought he could play 15. Rxf6 gxf6 16. Bg4, but 16... f5 saves the queen). He added that he should have tried 13. Rxe6 as 13... Bxe6 14. Nxe6 would give white a slight advantage i.e. 14... Rd8 (14... Nf6 15. Nxd8 Kxd8 16. Be3) 15. Nxf8 Rxf8 16. Bg4 Rf5 17. Qd3. Later in the game, GM Erenburg won a pawn here:
29. Bxh7 g6 30. Bxd6 Bxd6 31. f5 but with opposite-colored bishops, GM Lenderman was even able to jettison another pawn for a blockade of white's pawns, and the game was drawn by repetition.
The Board 2 matchup between GM Charbonneau and GM L. Kaufman was another Caro-Kann: Advanced Variation. 8... Nc6 appears to be an error as white has scored (+3 =1). Instead, 8... Ne7, which is only (+1 =4 -2) for white, should be played intending to recapture on d5 with the knight. However, after 9. cxd5:
9... cxd4 became the critical mistake. 10. Nc4 Qc2 and white could have played 11. Qxc2 Bxc2 12. dxc6 dxe3 13. cxb7 Bb4+ 14. Kf1 Rb8 15. Rc1 Ba4 16. Nb6! Bd7 (16... axb6 17. Rc8+) 17. Rc8+ Bxc8 18. bxc8=Q+ Rxc8 19. Nxc8 and since the knight can escape to a7 or d6, white is a clear piece up. Instead, the game continued 11. dxc6 Qxd1+ 12. Rxd1 dxe3 13. Nd6+ Bxd6 14. exd6 bxc6 15. d7+ Kd8 16. Ne5 and here:
Black could try for better drawing chances with 16... exf2+ 17. Kxf2 Ne7 (The knight takes a more central position and keeping the c6-pawn instead of the f7-pawn provides the king cover on c7, where it will be forced to move anyway). However, it would still be clear that white is the only one playing for a win, and that is exactly what GM Charbonneau did in the game.
On Board 3, the game between IM Enkhbat and NM Herman appeared to start as an expected Queen's Gambit, but then, it transposed into a Grunfeld Defense: Russian, Szabo (Boleslavsky) variation with 13... Bg4 as the novelty. Previous moves include 13... Be6 (=2 -4 for white) and 13... Na6 (+3 =2 for white). Then, 14. Rad1 Nd7, and black offers the e-pawn:
White declined the offer with 15. Qc2 seeing as 15. Bxe7 Rfe8 16. Ba3 Rab8 17. Qd3 Ng5 gives black plenty of play. There after, the game never strayed far from equality. Perhaps white's best chance to play for the advantage was here:
22. Bd3 Re8 23. Qf4 and wait to see how black deals with his slightly cramped position. The game would eventually liquidate into a drawish ending with Queens and opposite-colored bishops when both players agreed to a draw as the match result was clear.
Board 4 was an Alekhine's Defense played by NM Ostrovskiy and NM Schoch. Black chose a plan involving the king's knight moving from g8-f6-d5-b6-d7-f6. The 9... Nb6-d7 maneuver has actually been played at least 24 times before but with only a 37% score. The novelty occurred with 13... Bf5 (13... b6 [+1 for white] and 13... h6 [-1 for white] were tried before). Black's position in the middle game actually was not as bad as might be expected after losing so many tempos with the knight. After 21. Qe2, black missed an interesting shot at white's center:
21... Bxd4! 22. Nd5 (if 22. Bxd4 Nxd4 23. Rxd4 [23. Nxd4 Qxg5+ 24. Kh2 Rxd4 25. Rxd4 Qxc1 26. Rd8 Bg4! 27. Qxe7 Rxd8 28. Qxd8 Be6! 29. Nd1 Kh7 -/+] Rxd4 24. Nd5 [24. Nxd4 Qxg5+ 25. Kh1 Qxc1 -/+] Rxd5 25. cxd5 =/+) e5 with chances for both sides. The game actually continued 21... Nd6 22. Bg2 Qa5 23. Nb5 and here:
NM Schoch erred with 23... Nxb5? (23... a6 or 23... Nf5 instead were better) 24. cxb5 Nb4 (24... Nb8 25. Bf4 Re8 26. Ne5 and black's queenside pieces are stuck since 26... Nd7? 27. Rxc8! Raxc8 28. Nxd7 +/-) 25. Bd2 Bf5 Qc4 and black resigns as there is no compensation for the lost knight.