Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Best Novelty

I haven't bothered to blog for awhile, because I haven't had any chances to play chess. I keep writing to local organizers asking them about things, but no one has been responding. I don't know if they are simply not receiving my emails, or if I am not receiving their replies.

I have never written about correspondence chess, because it is something that I tried for only a few years and promptly decided I didn't like it much. I do have a few interesting games from those years, though. In this one, I came up with my very first novelty; one that I think was quite good, given how poorly white had fared up to this point. In fact, according to my database at that time, white had not won a single game in this particular variation. Even now when I search the database I don't see anyone using my novelty, though some strong players have played into this line.

[Event "1999 Golden Knights"]
[Date "1999]
[White "Cross, Ted"]
[Black "Hanlon, Richard"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C11"]
[WhiteElo "2246"]
[BlackElo "1897"]
[EventType "tourn (corr)"]
[EventCountry "USA"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Qb6 7. Be3 a6 8. Na4 Qa5+ 9. c3 cxd4 10. b4 Qc7
No one had played this variation against me before; they had always sacked the bishop on b4.
11. Qxd4 a5 12. b5 b6
After following the percentages in the databases that showed a nice advantage for white in these lines, I was suddenly shocked here to see the percentages plummet. I scanned over the games and saw that white had won none of them, and black had scored many victories from this position. Needless to say, I was suddenly quite worried. I looked over all the games and saw a common theme: black always moved his knight to c5 and it got traded for the knight on a4. I thought this was strange, because to me it looked as if black's pieces were cramped, especially the knights, so why trade the knight on a4 and help black untangle? Was it required? I tried to see how I could prevent the trade. Coming back to b2 with the knight didn't look good, so the only other way to keep black cramped was to free up the c3 square for the knight to retreat to. No one had played c4 before, but looking at it I couldn't see anything wrong with it. The only thing I was unsure of was whether black could get something out of playing bishop to b4 now that it was available. So, I went for it and played my novelty, unsure as to whether it was good or not. After the game was over I analyzed it with a computer and it did not recommend c4, so I remained unsure; however, computers have progressed much since then, and nowadays the computers promptly recommend c4! So, I feel that I actually came up with a good novelty, though I doubt anyone else has ever noticed this.

13. c4! Nc5
He didn't play Bb4+, though it looks like white retains an advantage if he does. (13...Bb4+ 14. Kf2 Nc5 15. a3 Ne4+ 16. Kg1 Bc5 17. Nxc5 bxc5 18. Qd3 Bb7 19. cxd5 and white has an edge)
14. Nc3
This was the point of my novelty, to retain the knight, thus leaving black cramped. Black's queenside pieces have real trouble untangling without giving some other advantage away to white.
14...dxc4 15. Bxc4 Bb7 16. O-O g6?
This is much too slow, and it also weakens the dark squares too much. It is easy for white to bring both knights around to e4 and threaten the f6 and d6 squares.
17. Ng5 Bg7?
This weakens black further, though white retains a significant edge after 17...Nbd7 18. Rfd1 Be7 19. Rac1.
18. Nce4 Nxe4 19. Nxe4 Bxe4 20. Qxe4
Black trades off both of the offending white knights, but white has enough continuous threats to prevent black from castling, meaning that black is essentially lost.
20...Ra7 21. Rac1 Qb7 22. Qxb7
I wasn't sure that trading the queens was the best move here, but I was able to see a fairly straightforward winning plan, so I figured it was fine even if there might be better moves.
22...Rxb7 23. Be2
This is why: I threaten to bring the bishop to f3 and go after the weak pawns on the queenside. This also keeps black from castling still.
If 23...O-O then 24. Bf3.
24. Bf3 Rb8 25. Rc7 Bxe5
Complete desperation.
26. fxe5 Nxe5 27. Bc6+ Nxc6 28. bxc6 f5 29. Rd1 1-0