Apologies for getting a little behind with these. I hope to get us caught up in the next few days.
Vega Links: A Grade , B Grade , C Grade
Draw: A Grade , B Grade
Round 8 PGN by Nigel , Ewen and Tim
Commentary for A grade by Nigel Metge.
Commentary for B & C Grades by Simon Lyall
A Grade – Round 8
Watson, Bruce – Steadman, Michael ½-½
An interesting game with action hidden beneath the surface.
Against Bruce’s favourite English Opening, Black adopts a sensible King’s Indian set-up. With 9…Bg4 Black leaves ChessBase 14 and provokes the weakening h3; if White avoids this then opening the e-file is an option for Black. White makes early progress with pawn advances on the Q-side and should double on the c-file with 19.Rc4! which also defends laterally against Black’s h4. Black’s counterplay on the K-side is slow to get going but is not to be underestimated.
A critical moment arises with 21.b5?! White should bring his N back into defense with a complex struggle ahead eg: 21.Nd2,h4; 22.gxh4,Qxh4; 23.Nf3,Qh6
With 24.f4?! White initiates a series of exchanges that reduce pressure but also rob White of prospects. After the game Bruce & I look at ways to maintain momentum such as 24.a5 and 24.Na5 but Black holds his own.
The players agree a draw in which White’s potential outside passed pawn is balanced by weak e- & d pawns.
Macdonald, Paul – Fan, Allen 0-1
White puts himself on the back foot straight out of the opening with the manoeuvre 8.Bb5/ Bxc6/ Ne5. Experience shows this just loses the 2B and the Ne5 cannot be maintained. At move 24, White misses an attack on c2 pawn; he had to choose between two ugly moves: 24.c3 or 24.dxc5 After a further weakening 28.b4?, Black plays well to force the sacrifice of an exchange and with it, White’s game.
Zhang, Jasmine – Ang, Alphaeus 0-1
Jasmine skips her usual London System and plays 5.h3 against King’s Indian Defense; Caruana & Aronian popularized this line. However, her inexperience shows when Black attacks the center with a Benko-like 8…,b5. Regular White d4 players know it is dangerous to accept this sort of pawn; correct is 9.Nf3 In fact after 10…,Nxe4! Black is already winning. Black exchanges pieces to the endgame and White’s weak d5 pawn falls.
A default win in round 8 puts Ben Hague half a point ahead of Bruce Watson.
B Grade – Round 8
Jordan Lewis vs Euan McDougall – Draw
Black’s unusual 4..b6 quickly gets the game out of theory . After a hesitation to castle White launches into an aggressive king-side pawn push. Black manages to hold the position and it swaps to a same-colour bishop and pawn endgame. After a few moves the players settle for a draw.
Tim Ha vs Done Eade – Draw
A steady stream of swaps until the players agreed on a draw. However for White’s final move instead of 33. Nxe5 and offering a draw the following continuation was possible due to the bad positioning of the black
bishop: 33.Rb3 Ba1 34.Ra3 Nc4 35.Rxa1 Nxe3+ 36.Kf2 Nc4 37.b5 a5 38.Ra4 Nb6 39.Rxa5 Rxa5 40.Nxa5
Felix Xie vs Alex Nagorski – 1-0
White plays the same Vienna Gambit that he played previously against Simon Lyall and Black initially plays correctly before miscalculation with 8..cxd4 (see diagram). Luckily for Black White misses the best continuation but he still comes out of the opening better. White is able to pick up a pawn and slowly edge forward in a rook and pawn endgame to win.
Simon Lyall vs Abraham Deng – Draw
A fairly sedate game. Players swapped down steadily and then repeated moves in an even position.
With his loss to Felix Xie Alex Nagorski only leads the grade by half a point with Felix in second.
C Grade – Round 8
Lakshmi Ravi vs Isabelle Ning – 0-1
The players opposite-side castle and pawn storm. White initially looks good but over-estimates the value of a pawn sacrifice and pawns block his attack. White gives up a piece to punch a hole in them which pays off when Black allows White’s Queen into her position to take several pieces. When the dust clears the material is close to even but White has a move of initiative. He misses 27 Rg5 though (see diagram). The difficult endgame is too much for Black who loses on time.
Karl Holdo vs Aaron Wang – Draw
A fairly unexciting game initially, White is better but fails to find the best continuations. Black blunders a piece on move 37 but then manages to win a piece back and the players stagger to a draw.
Boyuan Zhang vs Scott Treanor – 1-0
Black makes some slip-ups in the opening but White doesn’t immediately take advantage of them. He castles Queen-side and pushes his king-side pawns against Black’s King. Then with Black’s pieces on the Kingside he plays 16. Bh6 and Black is in trouble. A few mistakes later by Black and he is two pieces down.
Joe Wang vs Ajit Pendharkar – 1-0
White finds a nice tactic (see diagram) to win a pawn. He is then able to swap to a won endgame.
Stephen Peak vs Jacob Yuan 1-0
White gets a good attack but overlook the opportunity to take a piece. Black evens the position but then White resumes his attack and wins with a passed pawn.
C Grade – Round 8 upsets
Daksh Bahhat beat Philbert Zhai
Grayson Po’e-Tofaeono beat Vincent Cai
Joe Wang beat Ajit Pendharkar
Hugh Gao beat Andrew Michael
Anya Thurner beat Kenny Zhang
Hannah Xu beat John McClory
Isabelle Ning leads on 6.5 ahead of Boyuan Zhang and Lakshmi Ravi on 6.