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Marc Esserman vs Cindy Tsai
USA-ch (2003), Seattle, rd 7, Jan-16
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation (B90)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-10-14  offramp: Black didn't really have time for...a5 & ...a4.
Apr-10-14  SimonWebbsTiger: the shocking thing about this game is it isn't a Smith-Morra! Esserman has written a recent book on the gambit.
Apr-10-14  Patriot: White has the bishop pair. Black threatens 20...axb3.

20.Qxh5 axb3 21.Nf6+ Bxf6 22.exf6 threatening 23.Rh4 next?

I'm out of time on this.


Very tough. At first I considered 20.Rd6 in an attempt to lure the bishop away from the defense on f6. But I figured black "could" play 20...Qe8 where I didn't see anything. And I'm not saying this is the best response--it's just a test line as part of a search for candidates.

Apr-10-14  ChemMac: <SimonWebbsTiger> This game was played 11 years ago, perhaps before Esserman started on the Smith-Morra. It couldn't have been "USA-ch" proper, which is a closed tournament. Esserman may well raise his rating and get an invitation soon. Maybe it was in the US open?
Apr-10-14  Mendrys: Another game by Cindy Tsai against a notable opponent, C Tsai vs Browne, 2002
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Fritz 12 indicates Black was busted after 10...Bd7? (10...Qc7! = or 10...b4 =) 11. e5! (+2.42 @ 20 depth).

As for today's Thursday puzzle, the fairly obvious 20. Qxh5! axb3 21. Nf6+ wins without much difficulty.

A blunder for White to avoid is 20. Nf6+ ?? Bxf6! (not 20... gxf6 ?? 21. Qg3+ Kh8 22. Rh4 ) 21. Qxh5 g6 22. Qh6 Bg7 23. Qh4 axb3 .

Apr-10-14  Moszkowski012273: This shoulda been yesterday's puzzle.
Apr-10-14  Skewbrow: Black's in a bind after 20. Qxh5 all right, but could some kind soul explain to a noob how white finishes off this bout, if black first fortifies with 20... Ne8? AFAICT the white LSB has nowhere to go, but f6 and g7 will appreciate an extra defender.
Apr-10-14  Skewbrow: On second thought: After 20. Qxh5 Ne8 looks like the manouver Rf1-f3-h3 could be decisive.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <Skewbrow> Also 20...Ne8 21. Nf6+ (diagram below) leads to mate.

Marc Esserman - Cindy Tsai, USA-ch Seattle 2003

click for larger view

Analysis by Fritz 12:

1. (#19): 21...Bxf6 22.Rxf6 Qxg2+ 23.Kxg2 Nxf6 24.exf6 Re8 25.Rh4

2. (#18): 21...Nxf6 22.Rxf6 Qb6 23.Rh6 gxh6 24.Rg4+ Bg5 25.Bxb6 Re8 26.Qxh6 f6 27.exf6 Ra7 28.Rxg5+

Apr-10-14  morfishine: Both 20.Nf6+ & 20.Rd6 (as noted by <Patriot>) sink into murkiness

20.Qxh5 is simplest, the main point being the potential of White's rooks


Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: White has the bishop pair for a bishop and a knight.

Black threatens 20... axb3.

The black castle is weak (due to the h-pawn) and not properly defended. This suggests the typical 20.Nf6+ but after 20... Bxf6 (20... Kh8 21.Qxh5#; 20... gxf6 21.Qg3+ Kh7(8) 22.Rh4 and mate in two) 21.exf6 fails to 21... Qxf3.

Therefore, 20.Rd6, trying to divert the bishop:

A) 20... Bxd6 21.Nf6+ gxf6 (21... Kh8 22.Qxh5#) 22.Qg3+ Kh7(8) 23.Rxf6 and mate in two.

B) 20... Qb7 21.Nf6+ and 22.Qxb7.

C) 20... Qe8 21.Nf6+ Bxf6 (else mate soon as in A) 22.exf6

C.1) 22... axb3 23.Qg3 g6 24.Qg5

C.1.a) 24... Kh7 25.Qh6+ Kg8 26.Qg7#.

C.1.b) 24... Nd5 25.Rxd5 followed by Qh6 and Qg7#.

C.1.c) 24... Nd7 25.Rxd7 as above.

C.1.d) 24... Qd8 25.Rxd8 Rxd8 26.Qh6 Ne8 27.axb3 + - [Q+B+P vs R+2N].

C.2) 22... Nd7 23.fxg7

C.2.a) 23... Kxg7 24.Qg3+ Kh7(8) 25.Rf5 exf5 (25... Nf6 26.Rxf6) 26.Rh6#.

C.2.b) 23... axb3 24.gxf8=Q+ Nxf8 25.axb3 + - [R+B+P vs 2N].

C.3) 22... g6 23.Qf4 Nd7 24.Qh6 Nxf6 25.Bd4 Qe7 (25... e5 26.Qxg6+ Kh8 27.Qxf6+ and 28.Bxd4 + -; 25... axb3 26.Bxf6 + -) 26.Bxf6 Qxf6 27.Rxf6 axb3 28.Rxg6+ fxg6 29.Qxg6+ Kh8 30.Rd7 + -.

C.4) 22... Qc8 23.fxg7 as in C.2.

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Houdini 2.0 x64 evaluates 20.Qxh5 at about +7.5 and 20.Rd6 at about +4.5, enough to win.
Apr-10-14  zb2cr: 20. Qh5, axb3; 21. Nf6+ and it's all over except for the feeble gestures.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <ChemMac> The game was played at the "U.S. Championship":

Player #51 vs. #56, round 7.

For a while in the last decade, the US Championship was run as a Swiss with liberal qualification rules. This led to incidents like the Kelly Cottrell fiasco, where a Class A player qualified for one of the women's spots and scored a completely outclassed 0-9.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: The bagel turned in by Kelly Cottrell is merely the most egregious example of a player sent straight to Killtown in that ridiculous Swiss format.

Glad to see sanity has been restored and top players are the only ones playing for the US championship again.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Sadly, for white, he is a victim of a Noah's Ark trap. More sadly (or sadlier) for black, he is a victim of a vicious king- side attack.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: I was thinking first of 20.Bd5, interfering with the pin on the knight for some sacrifice on f6.
Apr-10-14  Memethecat: Some combination of Qxh5, Nf6, exf6,Rxf6 & Rg4/h4.
This is just a couple of the possible lines

Blacks responses seem to be Ne8, axb3, f5.

20.Qxh5 Ne8

21.Nf6+ Nxf6* (...gxf6 22.Rg5#)

22.exf6 Bxf6

23.Rxf6 Nd7 (...g6 24.Rxg6+ fxg6 25.Qxg6+ Kh8 26.Rh4#)

24.Rh6 gxh6

25.Qxh6 Nf6

26.Qg5+ Kh8

27.Qxf6+ Kg8

28.Rg4+ Kh7


<* I think move 21...Bxf6 & 21...Nxf6 are interchangeable here. Plus ...axb3 can be played and ignored at many points. Also I'm unclear about Qxc2, it may be a fly in the ointment>

20.Qxh5 f5

21.exf6 Bxf6

22.Nxf6+ Rxf6

23.Rxf6 easy mate to follow, but Casino's starting, so that's me done.

Apr-10-14  PJs Studio: Tell me if I'm wrong mates.... This is an attractive mate.
Apr-10-14  PJs Studio: 19. Rd4!! I never make moves like this. Hard to find, imaginative, probably accurate and Balsy!
Apr-10-14  Cheapo by the Dozen: 20 ... axb3 is a ridiculous move. Black needed to defend at that point, and the bishop wasn't going anywhere.

I didn't quite find a way for White to punch through after 20 ... f5, one point being that Black could slow White's attack by pinning the d4 rook.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Cheapo by the Dozen: 20 ... axb3 is a ridiculous move. Black needed to defend at that point, and the bishop wasn't going anywhere.

I didn't quite find a way for White to punch through after 20 ... f5, one point being that Black could slow White's attack by pinning the d4 rook.>

After 20...f5, White wins trivially with 21.exf6 (threatening 22.fxe7, 22.f7+, 22.Ng5, and 22.fxg7):

21...gxf6 22.Qg6+ Kh8 23.Nxf6 Bxf6 (23...Rxf6 24.Rh4#) 24.Rh4+ Bxh4 25.Rxf8#;

21...Bxf6 22.Nxf6 Rxf6 (22...gxf6 23.Qg6+ Kh8 24.Rh4#) 23.Rxf6 gxf6 24.Qg6+ Kf8 (24...Kh8 25.Rh4#) 25.Bh6+ Ke7 26.Qg7+ Kf8 27.Qf8#;

21...Rxf6 22.Nxf6+ Bxf6 23.Rxf6 gxf6 24.Qg6+ transposes to the above line.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <SimonWebbsTiger: the shocking thing about this game is it isn't a Smith-Morra!>

Not really. Esserman often plays 2.Nf3 and 3.d4 against the Sicilian: Unlike Weaver Adams, Esserman sensibly doesn't like to guarantee his opponents that he'll play a particular line.

Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: <comes over c5 what else bind a b6 crum a bottler>

Good idea <chrisowen> !

I have always wanted to crum a bottler :)

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