Matthew Fishbein's Games at the Maine Rating Floor Open

11.10.06 With a USCF performance rating of 1835, eight-year-old Matthew Fishbein scored 3.5 points out of four to take clear first in the Under 1625 secton of the Maine Rating Floor Open contested recently at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. Because we thought you might like to see this wunderkind in action, we bring you all four of these games, annotated by Fritz 9, and one game--Game 3--annotated my International Master Kenneth Regan. Another piece of IM Regan's analysis was just featured on GM Susan Polgar's Blog.

Thanks to Matthew Fishbein for providing us with his games and to International Master Ken Regan for the superb analysis.

Matthew just before playing 28.Rc8 in his third round game vs David Rice at the 2006 Maine Rating Floor Open.

We suggest that you use our interactive game viewer while following along with IM Regan's deep annotations. The easiest way to do this is to right click on the hyperlink below and choose Open in New Window.

Maine Rating Floor Open U1625
South Portland, Maine
October 21, 2006

Round 3
Matthew Fishbein (1018) - David Rice (1517) 1-0
White wins a pawn on move eleven but gives it back on move tewnty-three. Black drops a pawn on move forty and in a rook vs rook and pawn ending oversteps the time limit.
Click here to replay.

Round 3
Matthew Fishbein (1018) - David Rice (1517) 1-0
Annotated by IM Kenneth Regan

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 Bf5 4.g3 e6 5.Bg2 Nc6 6.Nf3 h6 7.0’Äì0 Be7 8.d5! White plays a farsighted plan that aims to win a Pawn or make Black give ground in the center. It is worth noting that also good was 8. Nh4 Bh7 9. e4 to gain a strong center, provided White sees that 9...g5 is met by 10. d5! when after 10...Ne5 11. Nf3 White's e-pawn *is* defended---see why? Also interesting is the gambit 8. e4!? right away: 8...Nxe4 9. Nxe4 Bxe4 10. d5! exd5 11. cxd5, and since Black's Knight cannot move and allow Qa4+ forking King and Bishop, Black must trade 11...Bxf3 12. Qxf3. Then White has better space and pieces to compensate for the Pawn. 8.e4 Nxe4 9.Nxe4 Bxe4 10.d5 Bxf3 11.Qxf3 exd5 12.cxd5 Ne5 13.Qb3 Rb8 14.f4 Nd7 15.Be3 Unclear; 8.Nh4 Bh7 9.e4 g5 10.d5 exd5 11.cxd5 Ne5 12.Nf3 Better for White.

8...Ne5?! [The lesser evil was 8...exd5 saving the b-pawn, although Black has to trade a center pawn for White's c-pawn. White is on top after 9.cxd5 Ne5 10.Nd4 Bh7 11.f4 Ned7 12.e4 0’Äì0 (12...Nc5 13.e5! is a dangerous attack for White) 13.Be3 ---but at least Black holds together.]

9.dxe6! Bxe6 10.Nxe5 dxe5 11.Bxb7 Qxd1 12.Rxd1 Rb8 13.Bc6+ Bd7 White had to see this far ahead to ensure that Black would not have time to win the Pawn back on c4. Now White plays a further series of forceful moves to build up a definitely winning position.

14.Bxd7+ Nxd7 15.Nd5 Bd6 16.Be3!? This is forceful, but the simple move 16. b3! may have been stronger, since Black is stopped from castling by: [16.b3 0’Äì0 17.Nxc7! Bxc7 18.Rxd7 with two Pawns to the good and Black can't play Rd8 as White's king has air on g2.]

16...0’Äì0!? [16...Rxb2! 17.Bxa7 Rxe2 18.a4! and although White has given back the Pawn, the passed a-pawn should win the day. Note also that Black has difficulty castling, as here 18...0’Äì0 (Also look at 18...Rc2 19.a5 Rxc4 20.a6 0’Äì0 21.Be3 Nc5 22.a7 Ra8 23.Rdb1 I don't have a definite answer if White is winning or will regret being down a pawn, but this certainly has the idea of 18. a4!) 19.Nxc7! Bxc7 20.Rxd7 should win clearly for White.]

17.Rac1!? Another forceful move, preventing 17...Rxb2 because 18 c5 wins a piece! But White had better with 17. Nxc7! when 17...Bxc7 is forced and 18. Rxd7 still gives Black no time to capture on b2.

17...c5? Now the saying goes: "When you see a good move, wait---look for a better one!" White can win a whole piece by retreating rather than advancing: 18. Nc3! Rb6 19. Nb5! and Black is skewered. Even sacrificing the Rook for the Knight only saves losing another piece for one move.

18.Ne7+?! The "?!" sign was for the missed opportunity 18. Nc3!---but this move is still winning as well.

18...Bxe7 19.Rxd7 Bg5 20.Bxg5 hxg5 Now is the moment when it was most important for White to spend a move to cut off Black's play rather than pursue White's own plans. Both 21. b3! and 21. Rc2! achieve that aim. An illustrative variation is after the move White played.

21.Rd5 [21.b3! a5 Black plays the "Minority Attack", but White can play "Pac-Man" with those Pawns lined up on the 5th rank... 22.Rd5 a4 23.Rxc5 axb3 24.axb3 Rxb3 25.Rxe5 f6 26.Rb5! Rxb5 else the c-pawn advances too fast for Black to cope 27.cxb5 Rb8 28.Rb1 Rb6 29.Kg2 This is a sure win as White can advance on the K-side as well.]

21...f6? Black should have played 21...Rxb2 right away---having an active Rook on the 7th rank is more important than a Pawn here! Now White should have played 22. b3 or 22 Rc2! The advantage of 22 Rc2! here is that 22. b3 Rfc8 would give Black time to play the minority attack with 23...a5 next.

22.Rxc5?! Rxb2 23.Rc7 Rxa2 Now a *very* instructive moment. White stops to defend a pawn, but Time was more important than Material here. As the saying goes, passed pawns must be pushed!

24.e3? The question mark is for surrendering the advantage. The move actually costs White *two* tempos because it also exposes White's "soft underbelly" at f2 to immediate attack. For comparison, see the line 24. c5! Rd8 25. c6 Rdd2 26. Rb7 Rxe2 27. c7 where Black is one move too late to give perpetual check because Black had to stop to take on e2 before the doubled Rooks could eat through at f2. [24.c5! Rd8 (24...a5 25.c6 gives no time for 25...Rxe2 26.Rd7 Rc8 27.c7 Kh7 28.Rd8 and White wins) 25.c6 Rdd2 26.Rb7 Rxe2 (26...Rdc2 27.Rxc2 Rxc2 28.c7 Kh7 29.Rxa7 avoids disaster but White has good winning prospects.) 27.c7 Rec2 28.Rxc2 Rxc2 29.Rb8++-]

24...Rd8 25.c5 Kh7?! Better was 25...Rdd2 first! The King was OK on g8. But luckily Black could afford to waste one tempo because White's 24. e3? cost two tempos.

26.c6 Rdd2 27.Rf1 Rdc2 28.Rc8 Rab2 Black had better with 28...Ra6! 29 c7 Rac6 hunting down White's pawn and protecting Black's own a-pawn.

29.Rc7 Rb6 30.Rxa7 Rbxc6 31.Kg2 R6c3 32.Kh3 Rc1 33.Rxc1 Rxc1 34.Kg2 Rc2 The game is now completely even, but White tempts Black forward and plays imaginatively with the Pawn structure to win a Pawn!

35.Ra8 f5?! 36.Re8 Good, but 36. Ra5! was even better!

36...e4 37.g4! As Nimzovich said, "A Pawn chain should be attacked at its base!"

37...g6 38.Re5! Rc4 39.gxf5 gxf5 40.Rxf5 Kg6 41.Re5 Kf6 Unfortunately there is a famous Russian (or German) proverb: "All Rook endings are draws"---for reasons explained at the end.

42.Rd5 Rc6 43.Rd4 Re6 44.Kg3 Re5 45.Rd6+ Kf5 46.h4 gxh4+ 47.Kxh4 Re8 48.Rd5+ Kg6?! 48...Ke6! was correct---keep the King in the center and play 49...Rf8! next move to tie White down.

49.Kg4 Rf8 Now White has one more instructive chance: 50. Rg5+! forces 50...Kh6 as Black cannot afford 50...Kf6? 51. Rf5+ trading Rooks and winning. Then 51. Rf5 defends the pawn from in front, and now Black is in real danger of losing the e-pawn and the game. Black *may* be able to defend by 51...Re8 with the point that after 52. Kf4 Kg6, the moment White's Rook moves Black has ...Rf8+ making sure White's f-pawn dies too. Does this idea hold the position for Black? Check out the sample line below to see Black's tsuris...

50.Kg3?! [50.Rg5+! Kh6 51.Rf5 Re8 52.Rf6+ Kh7 53.Kg5 Kg7 54.Kf5 Kh7 55.Rf7+ Kg8 (or 55...Kh6 56.Kf6 Kh5 57.Rg7 and again Black's King is "cut off": 57...Rf8+ 58.Ke5 Rxf2 59.Rg8! Rf7 60.Kxe4 Re7+ 61.Kf5 Rxe3 62.Rh8# was the point of playing 59. Rg8! before taking the Pawn.) 56.Kf6 Kh8 57.Kg6 Rg8+ 58.Kf5 Re8 59.Kf6 Kg8 60.Rg7+ Kh8 61.Rg4 Rf8+ 62.Ke5 Rxf2 63.Kxe4 and with Black's King "cut off", this is known to be a win for White!]

50...Re8 51.Kf4 Rf8+ 52.Kxe4 Rxf2 53.Re5 Kf6 54.Rd5 Ke6 55.Ra5 Kd6 56.Ra7 Ke6 57.Kd3 White won on time. Slightly better was 57. Ra6+ to drive Black's King back, but it doesn't matter as this endgame is easy to hold when the King is not "cut off" but is properly in front of the pawn. This is true even if White's own King is in front of the Pawn, so long as White's King doesn't get to the 6th rank. Whereas in K+P versus K, White would win anytime his King is in front of his pawn, except when it's a Rook's pawn. This is why Rook endgames are regarded as being much harder to win. The variations below are examples of the drawing process for Black. [57.Ra6+ Ke7 58.Ke5 Rh2 59.e4 Rh5+ 60.Kd4 Kd7 61.e5 Rh1 and White cannot stop the checks from behind, except by retreating the Rook. So: 62.Ra3 Rh6 Now Black takes over the 3rd rank from a side square. The idea is to force White to advance the pawn to e6 with White's King staying behind it. 63.Kd5 Ke7 64.Ra7+ Ke8 Bending but not breaking... 65.e6 Rh1! and now White tries to stop the checks from behind again, but in vain. 66.Ra4 Rd1+ or even better, 66...Ke7! 67.Rd4 Rxd4+ 68.Kxd4 Ke7 69.Ke5 and you kn ow that K+P vs. K is a draw so long as the pawn is in front of the King, because of: 69...Ke8! 70.Kd6 Kd8 71.e7+ Ke8 72.Ke6 Stalemate!] 1’Äì0

Round 1
Matthew Fishbein (1018) - Frank DiRenzo (1495) 1-0
In this game, Matthew first goes up a minor piece then a rook against the 2006 Downeast Open U1600 Champion, Frank DiRenzo.
Click here to replay.

Round 2
Robert Clawson (1600) - Matthew Fishbein (1018) 1/2
After White's tenth move in this game, Fritz gives Black a 2.88 pawn advantage. Thinking he was worse, Matthew offers a draw which his opponent readily accepts.
Click here to replay.

Round 4
Matthew Fishbein (1018) - Matthew Colson (1250) 1-0
Black makes an error in the opening that costs him a bishop. Matthew keeps the pressure on throughout the game and ends with a lovely tactical flourish.
Click here to replay.

Here's an article on International Master and University of Buffalo Associate Professor Kenneth Regan:

From chess to complexity: Kenneth Regan's career route
UB prof was chess prodigy as child
December 12, 1996

International Master Kenneth Regan
Kenneth W. Regan was beating his father at chess six months after he learned the game at the age of five.
Regan, an associate professor in the UB Department of Computer Science whose work is in complexity theory, was a chess prodigy who attained master at 12. He was the first of a series of phenomenal chess players to be touted as "youngest to hold the title of master since Bobby Fischer."

"All my chess memories are good memories," said Regan, who discovered tournaments at age 10. His experience in the 1970s was not at all like the daunting world of junior chess competition depicted in the book and movie, "Searching for Bobby Fischer." "That movie is completely unrepresentative," he said. "I loved the New York chess tournaments."

As a chess prodigy, he made friends with other elite young players and enjoyed access to the adult chess world on equal terms. "Rivalry, but in no sense enmity," is how Regan describes the relationship with other prodigies, including Michael Rohde, John Fedorowicz, Lewis Cohen, Jon Tisdall, Mark Diesen, Peter Winston and Michael Wilder. "We were a wave" in the chess world, he said.

After a couple of years, they stopped entering youth tournaments and moved to open competition. "We wanted the challenge. The best way to improve is to lose hard-fought games to better players," Regan said.

His years as a chess competitor had "tremendous social benefits," he said. Regan enjoyed the opportunity to travel and make friends at an international level. Competing with the U.S. student team in the Student Olympics, now discontinued, was a "great experience," he said.

With self-taught expertise in language, he was able to converse in Spanish and German with other chess players. He enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Cuban chess players at the tournaments in Sweden, Caracas, and Mexico City. In 1976 he was the only non-Russian player to win a gold medal.

Regan continued competing in chess after the age of 13 but no longer devoted four to five hours a day studying the game. He set his sights on attending Princeton University.

The rigors of a demanding university left little time for chess, but the game indirectly led him to the next phase of his education.

In the summer of 1980, Regan competed in two chess tournaments abroad. Meeting a friend in London, he decided to visit Oxford and immediately loved it. Oxford quickly became his next goal. "I applied to Oxford knowing I would like it," he said. He won a Marshall scholarship and eventually earned his Ph.D. in mathematics there.

In his first three weeks at Oxford, Regan admits he was bitten by the complexity bug. Complexity theory is "an intellectually amazing field, very challenging," Regan said. He describes complexity theory as the formal study of how long it takes a computer to solve certain problems or, more generally, how much memory and other computational resources are used.

Complexity theory is still a very young field in which it is easy to do certain things but "very hard to tackle the big questions," Regan said. The field has possibilities for applicative research in genetic technology, cryptography and practical algorithm design, among many areas.

"The intellectual side is very theoretical and starkly beautiful," Regan said . "My research gives me the same enjoyment I derived from chess."

With research, teaching and family requiring his energy, Regan no longer has the time or inclination for competitive chess that earned him the lifetime title of international master from the World Chess Federation. But at a chess tournament in Rochester in March, "the rustiness came out," he said. He tied for second.

Although he is not active in chess at UB, Regan lectured to the chess club last spring and later presented his lecture on computer chess to a larger audience as part of the UB Sciences Alumni Association Series on Oct. 21.

"Computers may beat human players, but they will not get out of reach," Regan said, noting that in the East, the game of Go, not chess, is considered a symbol of thought. Go has a bigger board and more pieces. The human style of play is not affected by the size of board or number of pieces, but computers are, he said. "Computers can't play a good game of Go," Regan said.

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