Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Bartell - Shulman

In the first round of this year's World Open at King of Prussia, two-time New Jersey state champion Tommy Bartell upset grandmaster Yury Shulman in a symmetrical English Opening.

First, Shulman sacrificed a pawn for dubious compensation. Then, he placed his knight on a central square where it was awkwardly pinned. The resulting exchange of pieces left Bartell with a pair of outside passed pawns and an easily won rook-and-pawn ending.

All things considered, Shulman would rather have been in Philadelphia!

NM Tommy Bartell (FIDE 2403) - GM Yury Shulman (FIDE 2667), World Open 6/30/2007

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 c5 5.O-O Nc6 6.Nc3 d6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bd7 9.Nc2 O-O

10.Bd2 Qc8 11.Rc1 Bh3 12.e4 Bxg2 13.Kxg2 a6

Through move 13, this game has followed Korchnoi-Beliavsky, Moscow 1975 which was won by Black in 58 moves. Bartell now varies from Korchnoi's 14.Qe2.

14.Ne3 b6 15.f3 Qb7 16.Ncd5 Nd7 17.Bc3 Nde5 18.b3 e6

Nimzovich would have approved of Bartell's maneuver with 16.Ncd5. Even though the knight can be chased with 18...e6, Black is left with a weak d-pawn in a Maroczy bind formation.

19.Nf4 b5 20.Qe2 Rfd8 21.Rfd1 Qb6 22.Nh3 bxc4 23.Nxc4 Nxc4 24.Qxc4 d5

I suppose Shulman figured that he might as well sacrifice the d-pawn, now that the Maroczy bind has been broken. A better move is 24...Rac8 with an equal position.

25.exd5 exd5 26.Rxd5 Rxd5 27.Qxd5 Rd8 28.Qg5 h6 29.Qf4 Qb5 30.Nf2 Ne5 31.a4 Qb8 32.Ne4 f5 33.Nc5 Re8

Usually a centralized knight is an asset. But here, Black's knight on e5 is so badly pinned that it only enables White to swap down into a winning endgame.

34.Bxe5 Qxe5 35.Qxe5 Rxe5 36.Nxa6 Re2+ 37.Kh1 Re3 38.Nc5 Bd4 39.b4 Ra3 40.a5 Be3 41.Rc2 Kf7 42.Kg2 Ke7 43.Kf1 Bxc5 44.Rxc5 Rxf3+ 45.Kg2 Rb3

46.Rb5 Kd6 47.a6 Kc7 48.Rb7+ Kc8 49.b5 g5 50.b6 Rb2+ 51.Kf1 f4 52.gxf4 gxf4 53.Rc7+ Kd8 54.Rh7 Rxb6 55.a7, Black resigns.

This game was an inauspicious start to the tournament for Shulman, and another defeat of a grandmaster by Bartell.