Tuesday I was in fear for my life over a 9 year old Asian girl who could pass as Little Cindy-Lou Who from the classic Dr. Seuss’ Story of how the grinch Stole Christmas. I saw through the cuteness, knowing she is ranked in the top 10 in the US for her age bracket. Being the epitome of the chess bully that I am, I approached this game with much grinch-like fan fare, complete with flaring nostrils, bushy eyebrows and “the Scowl”
She looked on with a blank expression, blinked those adorable eyes and moved 1.e4. I snapped 1…c6 Take that ! You are no match to My Caro-Kann BWAHAHAHA!
Calmly she continued 2.d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Bd3 Nc6, 5. c3 Qc7 HAHA! My “secret weapon” to the exchange C-K. Intending to disrupt her rote responses of placing a bishop on f4 and knights on f3 and d2. She was on to me though. The subtle 6. h3 was her continuation. I kept on developing …. Typically if she would have played 6. Nf3 first, I pick on it first with the Bg4 and entice my opponent to play h3. to break up the pawns on her king side first. So I looked at this as a little too cautionary which actually saved me a tempo and I went on developing as did she.
6… Nf6 7. Nf3 e6 8. 0-0 Bd6 9. Re1, 0-0 10 Nbd2, a6 11. a4, e5
I was considering opening the position and playing with an IQP to “throw her off” because I felt I knew this position. I thought of playing e5 earlier but I felt a6 was necessary preparation. A series of exchanges occurred:
12. dxe5 Nxe5 13. Nxe5 Bxe5 14. Nf3 Bd6 ( I should have moved this to f4 at this point ..instead I wasted a tempo) 15. Qc2 Bf4 16. Bxf4 Qxf4 17 Re7 … this was Just like little Cindy Lou Who murmurred… “ I only want a rook on the seventh rank!”
I grimaced “ Well well, My dear, you go right ahead and place that on the seventh.”
( position after move 17 Re7)
Then, when she was all done with her seventh rank rook placement, I went and did a LASKER move. 17…Bxh3! 18. gxh3 Qxf3 19 Re3 Qf4 20. Rae1 g6 Need to watch my h7. 21. Qd1 Rae8 22 Bc2 Qd6 23. Qd4 Re6 24 Rxe6 fxe6 I wanted to open up the f-file and have support for the d-pawn. It was a risk I was willing to take. She had all her energy on that Open e-file I needed to trip up this little whoville person.
25. c4 Qc6 26. Bb3 b5 27 axb5 axb5 28. cxd5 Nxd5 29. Rxe6!
“Oh Blast” I fell into a pinned position with that fowl plan of the fxe6 move. To top it all off, she recovered her lost pawn. So I saw a series of checks:
29… Qc1+ 30. Kh2, Qc7+ 31. Kg1 I offered her a draw at this point. She just shook her head. Qc1+ 32. Qd1 ( I thought of the queen exchange and probably would have faired much better exchanging down instead I went “Check!”) 32… Qg5+ 33. Kg1 Qf5 34. Re2 Qxh3+ 35. Ke1, Qh1+ 36. Kd2, Qh6+ I knew my knight was toast. This whole series of checks was an attempt to get her to trip up as I had some nice tactical shots AND the initiative.
Once the series of checks ran out of steam, I knew the knight was going away and I had a couple more tricks up my sleeve. With her King pushed to the queen side I was going to make a run for it with my pawns on the king side.
37. Kc2 Rc8+ 38. Kb1 Kf8 39. Bxd5 Rd8 Now who’s Pinned! 40. Qe1 D’oh! 40… Qg5.41. Bb3 h5 because in the end game, Pawns are pieces too.
42. Qb4+ Kg7 43. Qc3+ Kh6 44. Qe3 I knew it was inevitable. I also knew my chances of survival were MUCH better with Queens off the board. I was slowly dwindling her pawn supply off the board and was ready to exchange rooks when I hit that point. But then I saw something better. First I need to advance as far as I could the g and h pawns. .
44… Qxe3 45. Rxe3 h4 46. Rh3 Kg4 47. Be6 Rh8 48. f3 Kf4 49. Bg4 g5
and now the SHOCKING 56… Rxg4! I knew with 2 connected advanced passed pawns, I could fair well against the rook. I knew this endgame a little … and she was unfamiliar. So I went for it.
57. fxg4 Kxg4 58 Rh1 h3 59. Ke2 Kg3 60 Rg1+ Kf4 . I played to f4 instead of h4. At midnight, I was bleary eyed and someone pointed out after the game that I might have been able to force a win somehow. I was more concerned in keeping her king out of the corner. She offered a draw ( I say finally accepted my offer 30 moves earlier). I extended my furry green hand, grimaced and shook her hand.
Little Cindy Lou from Whoville ( rated 100 points higher than me at age 9) had her ½ a point stolen from her by this Grinch! My cold little black heart still beats.