By Jonathan Whitcomb, a chess tutor in Utah
UCER Ratings in Utah
Certain chess clubs in the Salt Lake Valley have their games rated using the UCER system (Utah Chess Estimated Rating), which is similar to the national rating program used by the United States Chess Federation. UCER does not require membership in anything and is free, and it’s based mostly upon informal games played in chess clubs.
Senior Center Tournament Game in Utah
The following game I played on June 14th against Grant Hodson, the tournament leader in the Harman Chess Club Championship (2017) in West Valley, Utah. If Grant and I both do well in the remaining few games of this double round robin, I’ll win second place, but may get as close as half a point below him when the tournament is over.
White: Jonathan D. Whitcomb (previous UCER rating=1808)
Black: Grant Hodson (previous UCER rating=1944), expected first-place winner
1) d4 Nf6
2) Nf3 c5
3) d5 e6
4) Nc3 . . . White moving c4 instead—that would be a standard Benoni opening
4) . . . exd5
5) Nxd5 b6? The first mistake of the game, allowing White to get a solid advantage
White should now play Bf4, aiming at Black’s vulnerable c7 square
6) Bg5 . . .
Bf4 would have been more to the point, for Black has weak squares, c7 and d6, which can be exploited by White.
6) . . . Be7
7) Nxe7 . . . I chose to gain a slight advantage with two bishops
7) . . . Qxe7
8) e3 h6
9) Bf4 d5
10) Be2 O-O
11) O-O Bb2
12) C4(?) . . . Better would have been c3 or h3
Black’s best move here is probably Rd8
12) . . . Re8
13) h3 d4
This is part of the point of Black’s previous move Re8, for the white pawn at e3 is now pinned, for the bishop at e2 would be lost if White now moved 14) exd4.
In my chess lessons I give to students in central Utah, I often mention tactical situations on the chess board. In this position, at this stage of this game, Black was probably thinking of the potential influence his doubled queen and rook may on the half-open e-file.
14) Re1 dxe3
15) Bxe3 Nc6
16) a3 Rad8
17) Qc2 . . . . probably not best, as it allows Black to move Nd4
17) . . . . Ne5 better was Nd4, but now Black’s slight advantage evaporates
18) Nxe5 Qxe5
19) Bd3 Ne4
20) f3 Nf6
21) Bf2 . . . . now White has a slight advantage because of the two bishops
21) . . . . Qf4
22) Rxe8+ Rxe8
23) Re1 Rxe1+
24) Bxe1 Qe5
25) Qe2 . . . .
I saw the possibility of winning after the exchange of queens, for my two bishops might win one of Blacks queen-side pawns.
25) . . . . Qd6
26) Bc3 Kf8 White could otherwise break up Black’s king-side pawns with Bxf6
27) Bc2 . . . . preparing for Qe5
27) . . . . Nh5?
This mistake allows White to force the exchange of queens and to possibly win a pawn on the queen-side. That knight became obviously misplaced on the edge of the board, and my opponent and I afterwards agreed that this may have been a big factor in the outcome of this game.
28) Qe5! Qxe5
Actually, Black does not have to capture the queen, for the bishop on c2 is undefended. Black may play Qe6, and if White captures the knight then Black moves Qe3+, getting a perpetual-move-draw or winning that bishop. My opponent may not have seen that.
29) Bxe5 Ke7
An instructive chess end game — White to move: either Bb8 or Kf2 are good
30) Kf2 . . . .
This was a difficult choice. Winning a pawn with Bb8 looks good for White, on the surface, but Black has two ways to trap that bishop, at least temporarily, and the white king needs to move towards the center of the board without too much delay.
30) . . . . a6 trying to prevent the loss of a pawn
31) b4 f6? Black is corralling in his own horse, trapping his knight
32) Bc7 cxb4
33) axb4 b5? White may now simply win the knight with Bg6
34) c5 (?) . . . .
This appears to win the game, in the long run, but Bg6 would have been quicker.
34) . . . . g5 my opponent noticed that his knight was in a corral
35) Ke3 Ng7
36) Be4 . . . .
I wanted to bring my king into the center. The exchange of light-squared bishops appeared to me to be the best way forward.
36) . . . . Bc8
37) Bd6+ . . . .
My bishop will eventually need to make way for the pawn advance. I thought it might as well do that now, giving a check that delays allowing his knight to move to e6.
37) . . . . Ke6 the e6 square is probably best reserved for the knight
38) g4 f5
39) Bd3 . . . . probably a mistake, allowing the black king to get to d5
39) . . . . f4+ probably a mistake by my opponent (Kd5 would have been better)
40) Kd4 . . . . now the white king has the center
40) . . . . Bb7 apparently the best move under the circumstances, but it’s too late
41) Be4 Bc8? Black could have survived longer after Bxe4
42) Bf8 . . . . not the best but a simple road to victory
42) . . . . Kf7? Black should have moved Ne8 but now White wins easily
43) Bxg7 Kxg7 the black king is now too far away for White’s passed pawn
44) Ke5 . . . . quicker would have been c6 and then Bf5
44) . . . . Kf7
45) Kd6 Be6
46) c6 . . . . now nothing can stop c7 and Bf5
46) . . . . h5
47) c7 hxg4
48) hxg4 . . . .
I had plenty of time on my clock and more than my opponent had, so I chose the easy way.
48) . . . . Bc8
49) Bf5 Bb7
50) c8(Q) Bxc8
51) Bxc8 Black resigns
With one game left in the tournament, for Grant Hodson, it looks like he’ll probably finish with only one loss, the above game. The best that I can reasonably hope for is to finish in second place, half a point behind him.
I missed a number of best-moves in this chess end game, but so did my opponent.
Chess Instruction in Central Utah
I teach chess lessons in the Salt Lake Valley. The first getting-acquainted session is free. If you choose to continue with regular lessons, the cost is only $25 per hour-long lesson.
Jonathan Whitcomb (author of Beat That Kid in Chess)
5347 South New Hampton Drive
(Chestnut Place condominiums, 925 west)
Murray, Utah 84123
My own philosophy for chess education includes the tutor giving the student opportunities to come up with his or her own ideas. With that said, when you have a chess lesson with me, you’ll most likely find that most of the ideas about how you can improve will come from me, at least in the early stages.
Why can private chess lessons help improve playing skill faster than other ways of progressing in chess abilities? At least in the instructional sessions you will have with me, each lesson will be tailor-made for the student.
The chess-book author Jonathan Whitcomb, of Murray, Utah, now offers his expertise in chess instruction to residents of the Salt Lake Valley, especially the central communities closer to Murray.
Face-to-face chess instruction from an experienced chess tutor—that’s the fastest way to learn the royal game and learn to win chess games. For more information, please call me at 801-590-9692. I live in Murray, Utah.