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Back toBasics OptimismTriumphant


In chess, objectivitywins gold. But optimismis a close runner-up. By GMLev Alburt


Among world champions we encounter


an objective Botvinnik, an optimistic Tal, and a cautious Petrosian. On lower lev- els, however, more often than not optimism trumps caution, and initiative trumpsmaterial.Writes our optimist-of- the-month, Denver Woodward: The following is a game from the 2010


National K-12 Championship, at Lake Buena Vista, Florida. I went 3½/7 and took 26th place. The chess teams of my school, Columbus Alternative High School, all went to the tournament and the sophomore team(which I was part of) took fifth place in the team standings of our division. (Lev’s future commentswill be in italics.)


Sicilian Defense (B31) DenverWoodward (1383) Michael Martinson (1867) National K-12 Championship (5), 12.11.2010


1. e4 c5 The Sicilian Defense. At this point I


felt confident despite the 484-point dis- parity between our ratings, because playing against the Sicilian was some- what of my specialty, and I was quite underrated.


2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Themove Bb5 ismy favored line against


the Sicilian, because it allowsme to usu- ally create a winning position (reality check: “slightly better”—L.A.) after say: 3. … g6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. d3. From here I would try to give Black double iso’s on the c-file. Also it plays away fromwhat Black is used to playing which will give me an advantage, since I am used to the posi- tions stemming from this line. In this case, Black played exactly what I liked.


3. ... g6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. d3 d5 52 Chess Life — August 2011


Nothing new here, and I’mfine after 6.


0-0 6. 0-0 Bg7 7. Be3?!


r+lqk+nr


p + pplp +p+ +p+


+ pp+ + + +P+ +


+ +PLN+ PPP+ PPP R N+Q+RK


After 7. Be3 And here it is, “my master level mis-


take”. I call it that, because while for a 1383 it was a blunder that lost me the Exchange, for a master it would have been a line that allowed White a huge dynamic advantage with all sorts of devel- opment.


7. ... Bxb2 8. Nbd2 Bxa1 9. Qxa1 White’s initiative is real, but not sufficient


to compensate formissingmaterial, espe- cially after the strong 9. ... d4, closing the long diagonal.


9. ... Nf6 10. Bxc5 0-0 I am down the Exchange. However as


my chess coach, Kyle Jones (2128), con- stantly reminds us, “material means nothing when you have the initiative.”


11. Re1 Re8 12. h3 dxe4 13. Nxe4 Nxe4 14. Rxe4 Bf5 15. Re2


(see diagramtop of next column)


15. ... e6?? Yes, 15. ... e6 is bad, but not losing, as


r+ qr+k+


p + pp+p +p+ +p+


+ L +l+ + + + +


+ +P+N+P P+P+RPP+ Q + + K


After 15. Re2


the course of the game, and Denver’s own notes, will show. After 15. ... f6!, I’d pre- fer Black.


16. g4 The subtle 16. Bd4,withmultiple threats


(now including g2-g4) was stronger. 16. ... Qd5 So this was Black’s plan. He hoped I


would play g4 and I did. He now has a fork on my knight and bishop.


17. Qe5!! I came up with a beautiful refutation to


Black’s plan. If 17. … Qxf3, then I win with 18. Bd4 Qxe2 19. Qg7 mate or 18. … f6 19. Qxf6 forced mate.


17. ... Rad8 Both players are playing verywell here:


17. Qe5 deserves two exclams, and Black counters with his best defense.


18. Bd4 Qxe5


(see diagramtop of next page) And now I am faced with a decision:


with what piece should I take e5? If 19. Bxe5 then Black has 19. … Bxd3 20. cxd3 Rxd3 and Black is up a pawn with


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