Thanks to the 9 Queen’s organization, on December 20th we had a surprise visit from one of the leading US chess players- GM Aleksandra Kosteniuk- the current Women’s World Champion. She is one of the very strong Women GMs who are very successful playing against the World elite players. She is also one of the first chess “ladies” who made a career as a model and a spokesman representing various businesses. She conducted a simul for about 30 players of every level and had a pretty good result- couple of draws and no losses. It was a pleasure being there and see so many of the Arizona Chess For Schools students participate. I hope many more of such events will take place in Tucson and thanks to Jean Hoffman for running this event. Hope to see Aleksandra here again sometimes!
Here is one of the games from the simul: Enjoy it.
(1) Kosteniuk – Oberg [B40]
1.e4 GM Kosteniuk did not spoil players at the simul with many starting moves or side lines. That made it more interesting as the strong players got a chance to try their openings in one of the harshest tests they will ever face. 1…c5 2.Nf3 e6 Is this going to be a Kan or a Taimanov? 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4!? Nop! Pin variation. It has a bad reputation on the highest level but Troy logically concludes that it is better to play a slightly questionable line than invent something on the spot. 6.Bd3 Interesting choice by Kosteniuk. No doubt she knew the main line with 6 e5, but wisely chose to not play it in a simul as from experience I know that getting extremely sharp lines in a simul brings your rating down by about 300 points. 6…Nc6 [6…d5 this is slightly more popular- with about an even game] 7.Nxc6 dxc6! 8.0–0 [8.e5!] 8…e5 It seems like Black has effortlessly equalized but of course the whole game lies ahead. 9.Bg5 0–0 10.Qf3 Be7 11.h3 b5 12.Rad1 Be6!? The good and safe choice was Qc7 but Black is looking for complicating the issue. 13.Bxb5 Qb6 14.Ba4 Qxb2 15.Bb3!? [15.Bxc6! This looks bad but because of tactics it works. However, it is impossible to calculate during a simul and I was sure she won’t even think about it. 15…Rac8 16.Rb1] 15…Bxb3 16.cxb3 The ” Russian school” shows here in full glory- Tiny edge is better than crazy complications. At the same time Alexandra is constantly thinking of pawn structure: a trait of a very good chess player. 16…Rfd8 Objectively Black is slightly worse but with lots of chance to equalize or more. 17.Rb1 Qc2!? 18.Rfc1 Qd3 19.Qxd3 [19.Na4!? A logical move but once again- not for a simul. The idea is to have the e4 pawn protected even at the cost of doubled King side pawns.] 19…Rxd3 20.Na4 Ba3! 21.Rxc6? Probably the only real mistake of White in this game. There was no need for it at all. Rc4 would keep a nice little edge.Now Black gets a serious counterplay. 21…Nxe4 22.Be3 f5! I checked the game with RYBKA and it equally prefers f6. From practical stand point- the move played in the game is 100 times better as it makes White solve very concrete problems in a very limited time. 23.Ra6! This move looks very strong. White is threatening the a7 pawn as well as a double attack with Nb6 on the Ra8 and Ba3. 23…f4! 24.Rxa7 [24.Bxa7 Rd7!; 24.Nb6?? fxe3 25.Nxa8 e2! 26.Kh2 Rd1 Black wins!] 24…Rc8!
[24…Rad8 Also possible] 25.Bb6 Nd2 Not bad but the odd looking Bc1! is better- shutting down the Rb1 and preparing ideas with Rd1–Nd2-Nf1 attack. Very hard to see in a game! 26.Re1 e4 27.Bc7 This looks very strong but Black has adequate resources. Rc7 may have been a better try for White. 27…Bd6! Very strong move! Normally, when once side attacks- trades are not the best way to solve issues and here not only Black trades but also retreats the active looking Rook. However, it solves lot of problems for Black as well as builds a base for very unusual attacking chances. 28.Bxd6 Rxd6 29.b4 Rc2 It is very hard to chose between good moves such as Rc2, e3, f3 and rg6. I was glad to see that Rc2 does not spoil anything. 30.Nc5 e3 [30…Rg6!? Also may be very good] 31.fxe3 Rg6! [31…f3 This also looks very strong but by Ra6 or Rd7 White solves the problems. Rg6 keeps the threats going and therefore deserves a high mark.] 32.Kf2 An amazing resource found by Kosteniuk in the matter of seconds! 32…Nc4+ I could not decide if Nc4 is better or f3 is. Here are some lines. [32…f3! 33.Ra8+ (33.Rg1 fxg2 34.Ra8+ Kf7 35.Ra7+ Ke8 36.Ra8+ Ke7 37.Ra7+ Kd8 Looks dangerous for White) 33…Kf7 34.Ra7+ Ke8 35.Ra8+ Ke7 36.Ra7+ Draw] 33.Kf3 fxe3 [33…Nxe3? 34.Nd3!; 33…Rcxg2 34.Rd1! And white is even starting to think about checkmating Black!] 34.g4 White is eager to get some space for the King but it doesn’t completely solve the problems as the h3 pawn now gets weak. [34.Ne4!] 34…Rf6+ 35.Kg3 Rcf2! Very strong!Now white has to be extremely careful. 36.Nd3 White probably could just take a draw with Ra8 perpetual check but prefers to play for a bit more. 2 Moves later they both decide draw is the best. 36…R6f3+ 37.Kh4 Rh2 38.Ra8+ Kf7 39.Ra7+ Kg6 40.Ra6+ Kf7 Draw!. Very interesting fight and a cool accomplishment by Troy, who drew a World Champion. ½–½