05 May 2013

Commentary - 2013 U.S. Championships, Round 2

For Round 2 of the U.S. Chess Championships I found an embarrassment of riches - 5 games that I thought were particularly relevant to my chess training and studies, not just one.  I was fortunate to be able to see a large portion of the excellent live coverage for round 2 as well, giving me some ideas of which games were the most interesting to me personally, along with some specific observations and ideas from the commentary.

Game 1: IM Kayden Troff - GM Gata Kamsky
Kamsky brings out the Leningrad Dutch, which his opponent likely was not fully prepared for, judging by the novelty on move 7.  Black makes a strategic exchange sacrifice and then takes over the initiative and outplays his opponent.  I found both the opening discussion and the idea and execution of the positional exchange sacrifice very useful to see.

Game 2: GM Gregory Kaidanov - GM Conrad Holt
It's always difficult to face your own favorite defense as White, so this game was personally important, as I've struggled to come up with a good reply after 1...c6.

Game 3: GM Melik Kachyan - GM Alex Onischuk
This is an excellent example of a solid Caro-Kann Classical, whose main line goes out quite far (around move 20).  Black neutralizes White's threats and plays solidly, although White perhaps could have tried for a little more towards the end.

Game 4: GM Alejandro Ramirez - GM Alexander Ivanov
The opening phase is very interesting, morphing from a Hedgehog to a Symmetrical English to a Benoni structure.  White has a comfortable game afterwards, although not a winning advantage.  The explosion of tactics starting on move 19 comes from what appears to be just a small Black inaccuracy.  White aggressively pushes the passed pawn he wins as a result and leverages other associated tactical opportunities to ram home the point.

Game 5: Sarah Chiang - IM Anna Zatonskih
Zatonskih transposes into a Modern Dutch Stonewall formation by move 6, after starting off with a Slav defense.  Her opponent appears unfamiliar with some key positional ideas, such as the importance of not opening the f-file and trying to maintain a knight on e5.  Despite this, White manages to stay equal after Black fails to follow up on a few opportunities.  In the resulting equal double bishop endgame, Black simply outplays her opponent in an instructive manner.

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