Star Ledger on the Nationals Plus NJ Stars Games

New Jersey kids are had a good time at the various championships held at the US Open in Orlando. Christopher Wu tied for third (a point out) in the Denker National High School Championship. Kimberly Ding tied for fourth (half a point out) in the National Girls’ Invitational Tournament and John Michael Burke tied for 6th, a point out of first place (tight competition!) in the Barber K-8 Championship. As there were representatives from all the states, it is truly a national experience.

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Game 1

Today’s game, courtesy of John’s father, who is there, is John Michael Burke’s win in round two as Black in a theoretically interesting Gruenfeld Defense. White tries a once popular line aimed at trading off Black’s king bishop with Bh6. White pretty much defused the line years ago with 9…Qa5.

Young Mr. Burke, however, may not have liked the drawing possibilities of that and went with 9…Nc6. His opponent correctly met it with 10.d5, but, instead of playing in solid fashion with 12.Be2, offered up 12.Bd3.

That allowed John to play the brilliant 12…Bg4!! The idea was probably 13.0–0 Bxf3 14.gxf3 e6 15.dxc6 c4 16.cxb7 Rab8 17.Rb1 Bxc3 18.Qc1 cxd3 with a tension-filled game.

Instead, White went with 13.dxc6. Understandably, the sharp nature of the position caused both players to err around here. Black could have come out better with 16…cxd3 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Rb1 Qa6. He chose 16…e5, and White pounced with 17.Bxc4 only to go astray with 19.Qc3. Much better for White was 19.Bd5! Qxf3 20.Rg1 Rxd5! 21.exd5 Rxb7 22.d6 Qd5 23.Qf4, where he would have a little edge.

However, White’s really tragic move was 20.Ke2 instead of, again, 20.Bd5. We have an idea that he completely overlooked Rxd4 followed by Rxe4+. Burke did not!

After that, it was pretty much a clean-up operation.

The Black queen easily gobble up pawns while the Black king escorts its h-pawn forward. The White rook and bishop, although when combined equal all the queen moves, are no match here as separate entities. Dropping the bishop made it a shorter experience!

John Michael Burke’s wanting to play for a win rather than a draw as Black is admirable and gave us an interesting struggle.

Game 2

Kimberly Ding was a key player in all this as she beat the New York (then ahead of NJ in the standings) representative in this exceptionally well-played game in the last round.

Both players are nationally rated experts, so they knew what they were doing. Poteat apparently was playing for a draw to help hold onto first place for her team. Ding was having none of that and simply “out-understood” her opponent.

Usually, when White is playing for a win with this line, they go with 4.Nf3 Bd6 (4…Nf6 5.Bd3 Be7 6.c4 Be6 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.0–0 0–0 9.Nc3) 5.c4 so as to avoid 4…Bb4+ with simplification. However, it didn’t matter as Black was not interested in simplifying.

Ding’s plan was excellent once White played a4, weakening her b4 square. Her knight headed right for b4 and then the queen dropped in at d4 to complete the triumph of winning the initiative in the center by move 17.

White could have fought a little harder with 21.Qf3, but for some unknown reason made her difficult middle game position a really difficult endgame position. Ding’s pieces just dominated the central squares.

White could easily have resigned after Ding pushed the c-pawn all the way down to promotion on move 45, but sometimes people find it hard to resign or hope that their opponent will blunder. That latter option did not happen. A very fine positional performance by Kimberly Ding.

 

We have also received news that New Jersey has a new master. Anna Matlin went over 2200 at the Manhattan Open. Our thanks to Noreen Davisson for the heads-up.

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