The first week of any Knights Tournament is never easy for the higher-rated players and the June Knights was no exception. The games went longer than usual and there were no easy victories for the tournament favorites.
Game of the Week
“I just beat a 1900. Dude!”
That was Jonathan Israel’s reaction to finding out his opponent’s rating during the post-mortem. Israel hadn’t checked the ratings during the game and was surprised to discover he had won his best game yet.
“I didn’t even lose… I got crushed,” Machuca said in good spirit after the game, “It wasn’t good.”
Israel played the White side of Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation, which turned out to be an excellent choice against a much higher rated opponent who dreads going into endgames. Machuca already had some misgivings about his position after 6…Bc5 because after Israel played Be3 he didn’t want to retreat his bishop but it also wasn’t very appetizing to trade. He ended up putting the bishop on a7, which meant his rook was out of play on a7 after the bishop trade.
Black could have avoided losing a pawn on move ten with the forcing sequence 10…Bxf3 11. Qxf3 Qxf3 12. gxf3 f6, which was seen by Machuca during the game, but he preferred to lose a pawn with the move 10…Ne7. “I hate endgames,” Machuca admitted after the game. He was determined to avoid the endgame even at his own detriment.
Black continued to play aimlessly and found himself two pawns down with no compensation. White proceeded to remind Black that his king was not safe in the center with the powerful advance e4-e5-e6 – threatening to open up the e-file and expose the Black king.
White patiently brought both of his rooks into the game and opened the e-file at just the right moment; it was time for Black to resign. A strong showing from Jonathan Israel in his 2015 Knights debut.
Jonathan Isreal v. Danny Machuca // Annotation by GM Ben Finegold
In other news…
There’s still time to enter the June Knights Tournament, beginning this Wednesday’s second round with a first-round bye. Cash prizes are awarded to the top finishers, as well as the top U1700 and U1400 player, and all players receive grandmaster analysis of each of their games.