The trophy at stake (picture from FM Jonathan Berry) doubled as a functional teapot
In my last post, I detailed how I started off against Bu Xiangzhi in the US-China Chess Summit of 2001. After that embarrassing start, team captain GM Nick De Firmian showed some faith and sent me back out the next day to board 1. This time I got the white pieces.
A 3.Bb5+ Sicilian arose (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+), but Bu avoided the main lines with 3…Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Nbxd7. After 5.0-0 Ngf6 6.Qe2 g6 (6…e6 is much more popular), I played 7.c3. The game continued with 7…Bg7 8.d4 cxd4 9.cxd4, and it already looks to me like White is better. Black either has to allow e4-e5 (and maybe e5-e6), or he continues as Bu did with 9…e5.
r2qk2r/pp1n1pbp/3p1np1/4p3/3PP3/5N2/PP2QPPP/RNB2RK1 w kq e6 0 10)
Now that I look at it, Black was 2-0 with this line at the time our game, so maybe it was part of Bu’s preparation. I only played 1.e4 back then, with a couple anti-Sicilians as part of my repertoire. Of them, the Rossolimo/3.Bb5+ lines were my most serious lines, so this line couldn’t have been a surprise for him.
With no recent games, I figured I’d fill in some of the blanks with older games. Hopefully I can find enough games to keep this “series” going …
Back in 2000, I beat my first FIDE 2600+ opponent at the Koltanowski Memorial in San Francisco. I had started out pretty well at the event: I drew in the first round with black against GM Shulman (where I had the better of the draw), followed by 2.5/3 against non-GM opponents. In round 5, I was paired with Ehlvest. At the time, he was about 2630 FIDE and in the top 50 in the world (not his peak as a top-5 player by rating, but still, I’d take either one!).
I had played Ehlvest earlier in the year, also as Black, and he managed to engineer a miraculous escape in my time pressure:
1r4kr/2q2p2/5Pp1/p2p3P/1P2np1Q/5N2/2P4P/R5RK b - - 0 35)
I was tempted with a little tactic to win White’s queen, and played 35…Ng3+?. If 36.Rxg3, then White is just down an exchange with no compensation after 36…fxg3, while 36.Kg2 Rxh5 37.Qg4 Qxc2+ leads to checkmate.