November 2008

I played my regular OTB game this Sunday. I played with a  boy rated 30 less than me and drew. Since I had a good attack in the middlegame, it left me kind of scratching my head. Of course, as I came home, the computer was merciless.  OK, so how it went? I was Black and he played  (as I learned later) Konstantinopolsky Opening.  It is a rarely played opening that begins with the moves 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. g3.  It was introduced in the game Konstantinopolsky–Ragozin, Moscow 1956.

Anyway, even more rare than the opening was the speed with which he played (90/SD). It was lightning first 12 moves, then blitz another 8-10 moves, then active the rest of the game.  I simply couldn’t get out of the table. After some not very good opening-middlegame phase (mostly half a pawn down according to computer) I was able to intercept the initiative with the move 19. ..f4.


White answered 20. gxf4 – big mistake.  20. .. Nxf4 21. Ng4 Bxg4 22. hxg4 Nxg2 23. Kxg2 Qg6


24. f3 Be7 25. Re4 Rf8 26. Qd1 Rf7 27. Qh1 Rbf8 28. Rf1 Bg5 29.
Bc3 Rf4 30. Qh3 Rxe4 31. dxe4 Be3 32. Qh4 Bg5 33. Qh5 Qf6 34. a4 Qf4 35. Qg6


Here I was glad that I can execute my long planned penetration of my Queen into the enemy’s territory – Qe3 and didn’t notice the winning move – Bh4.

36. Be1 Qe2+ 37. Kg1


37. … Rxf3 Another miss. Of course I saw Be3+, but I thought that White covers with the bishop not seeing that then Rxf3 wins.  38. Rxf3 Qxf3 39. Qf5 Be3+ 40. Kh2 Bf4+ 41. Kg1 Be3+ 42. Kh2  I saw that he has a perpetual check and didn’t see the win (there wasn’t already), so I traded queens.


42. .. Qxf5 43. gxf5 Bg5 44. Kh3 Kg8 45. Kg4 Kf7 46. Kh5  1/2:1/2


Allowing king there was a final mistake , though I don’t think there is a win here after 43… g5 44. hg Kg6. The bishop is bad, that’s it.

OK, I’ll just follow Dan Heisman’s rule: “Losing can be a great motivator if it helps you identify and correct things you are doing that cause the loss”. Yeah,  if the position tells you there is a win, you should believe it and just find it.  Another Dan’s rule, that I didn’t fully followed:  “When looking for tactics – for either player – look for Checks, Captures, and Threats …”.

The good thing I managed my time pretty well, spending on the first 15 moves in the unknown opening 24 minutes.  OK, it’s 26.7% of all the time, not 20%, still good result for me.

Here is the link to live action:

7:40am. Our women are playing with Portugal, 1:2, our first board has winning chances.  Men are playing with Colombia,  1.5:0.5,  1st board down 2 pawns, but opponent’s king is not safe, 4th board has 2 queens.

On the “big screen” USA are beating Ukraine – 2:0 !!!

Here is the position from Natalia’s ( 1st board) game:


8:15am. Our men won already – 2:5-0.5, one more game. Natalia sacrifices a pawn, if it is accepted, White get essentually more active rook and king.

China losing to Armenia – 1:2.

8:26am. USA won the match – 2:5:0.5 with one more game, looks like they can get bronze medals.

8:40am. Fierce battle on the women’s first board.

8:55am.  Armenia won the Olympiad!  Crazy, crazy rook endgame on women’s first board continues. It’s the first time I am watching endgame like I would watch middlegame with let’s say castling to opposite sides and mutual attacks. It’s finished and it’s a draw, so women lost the match – 1.5:2.5.

9:30am. Israel get silver! Not clear who gets bronze yet, it will be decided on TB.

11:00am. USA gets bronze, women’s team too.

Canada – national team – 28th, women – 65th.

8:30am EST. Our men are playing with Trinidad & Tobago, outrate them by 300 each, I hope for “shutout”.  Women are playing with Belarus and outrated by 150 on the first 2 boards and by 75-100 on boards 3 and 4, tough match.

I am having a problem with choosing an interesting super-GM game(s), they always draw. I will follow  Carlsen-Navara (Czech Republic)  today, hope Magnus plays well.

9:12am. They started! Magnus plays Ruy Lopez, quiet d3, c3 scheme.

Natalia plays unusual for her Dutch with Black, Yuan – Accelerated Dragon with White, Dina – Closed sicilian with Black, Hazel – Pirc defense with White.

10:20am. Natalia’s position is difficult and she has half an our less on the clock, Yuan’s chances in mutial attack look good, and there is a positional play on the other 2 boards.

11:30am. Looks like 3rd board is losing, 2nd and 4th are OK for now, 1st has 9 minutes for 10 moves.

11:38am. Our 4th board just won a knight, great!

12:42m.  Men – 2:0, women – 0:1 and I think they are going to lose the match.

2:18pm.  Men – 3.5:0.5,  women – 0.5:3.5.  4th board allowed dangerous passed pawn and in the end was lucky to force a draw.

10:08 am EST. Today we have 2 battles between David and Goliath. Men are playing with Macau and women with Slovenia ( former Yugoslavia, it gives you an idea about level ).  Women look OK for now, but the class often shows later in the game, let’s hope for a miracle. 2nd board, Yuan Yuanling, sacrificed already 2 pawns and has initiative, difficult to say how strong it is. 1st board, Natalia Khoudgarian has, actually, good position with her +350 opponent. But I just noticed she has one hour less on the clock.

Maybe some regular noticed, that I make more comments about women, than men. The reason is simple ( it’s not that I am a woman 🙂 ) – I know 3 out of 5 team members and in men’s team I know only one.

Yuan Yuanling and Dina Kagramanov – I played once with each ( lost, but got at least 30 moves 🙂 ).  The last 2 are Natalia Khoudgarian – she and her husband taught chess to my kids and Nikolay Noritsyn – Canadian Champion. I saw once how he played – I could never guess his moves.  


11:30am. So far results as expected – men 3:0, women – 0:1.

12:50pm.  Women – 0:2 and looks like it will be 1:3. 

GMs I watched: Kamsky – Leko and Kramnik – Aronian drew.

2:00pm.  Women – 0:5-3:5.

8:25am EST.  Pairings are ready, so what’s for Canada? As I expected, our women got  a difficult opponent – Mexico with 4 WIM. Men got easier task, they play with Iraq, which have only 2 FMs. As for others,  pair Kamsky – Dominguez looks interesting, Dominguez recently won World Blitz Almaty Blitz Chess World Championships – went undefeated with 11.5 points, 8 victories and 7 draws against most of the major players in the world ranking.

9:30am. Dominguez plays White, Ruy  Lopez, quiet schema with d3 and c3. 10:25am.  Bad news – on the first board for men’s team our GM made a standard sacrifice Bxh7+, but overlooked  some defense and resigned.  Women look OK for now.  In Kamsky – Dominguez game they have e4,d4 – e5,d5, so the play will open.

11:00am. 3rd board for women sacrificed a bishop for 2 pawns, I hope she has compensation. 2nd board looks good.

12:00pm. Women – 1st board just won a pawn, 2nd board won, 3rd is losing badly, 4th in time trouble. Kamsky – Dominguez are close to a draw, i think.

12:20pm.  Our women are leading – 2:1! And the time trouble on the 4th board became mutual.

12:35pm. Men are losing 1:2 and the best 4th board can get is draw I think. Dominguez looks better to me now with pair of bishops. Women are simply blitzing, I like Canada’s position more.

12:55pm.  Suddenly, after exchange of tactical strikes Gata is remote passed pawn up, but with opposite colored bishops.

1:07pm.  Kamsky-Dominguez  – draw. Our Irina Barron went into R+3p vs. R+4p all on kingside endgame.  Isn’t it a draw?  Nikolay on the 4th board is trying to save the match, he is pawn down, but has excellent knight vs. bad bishop with queens.

2:20pm. Both Canadians drew, setting 2.5:1.5 for women and 1.5:2.5 for men, both results pretty surprising to me.

Here is how our 1st board, Yuan Yuanling, won with White:

Bxg7!  Kxg7 then Rg3+ – Black resigned.


It should be interesting day. Our men team is playing with Yemen. Funny,  Yemen put 2100+ rated player on the first board against 2500+, and 2400 on the second one. I think,  Yemen is aiming for a draw creating a match on 2nd and 4th boards. Women’s team is playing against Nigeria, unrated FIDE, for now Nigeria plays pretty decently, but I think higher class should prevail. We will see. 

Carslen is playing with Mamedyarov, it could get sharp, and Kramnik plays against Naiditsch, he lost to Naiditsch recently in Petroff, they are playing Petroff now! It’s another variation.

10.40 am EST. Kramnik drew.  Nigeria team plays well, it’s starting to worry me.

11:25am. Women have advantage on 2nd board, other boards look pretty equal.  Carlsen gave up the bishop for 3 pawns, very sharp position.

12:10pm. Carlsen drew.  Women won on the 2nd and 3rd boards and are winning on the 1st, 4th looks good too.

1:05pm. Men’s team drew 2:2,  women won 4:0. Here is a beautiful finish of the endgame that Natalia Khoudgarian, 1st board, played with Black, position after 46. Kg2-h3 Kf5-f4


Frankly, I couldn’t understand move Kf4 and became really worried.

47. b6 Kf3!! 48. b7 Bg3  


White resigned ( none of the upcoming queens can prevent a checkmate 49. … g4# ).  

Friday, 9:47 EST.

So,  Olympiad started, some expected and unexpected results. You can see them, as well as pairings here:

Games begin today at 10am EST (4 pm CET), you can see them live here (not yet):

I decided to follow Carlsen – Meier (Germany) , Korchnoi (my favorite) – Kakageldyev ( Turkmenistan) and again our Canadian team. 

10:11am EST. Games started.  

10:30 am.  Carlsen exchanged queens, position looks equal.

Our women are playing with Costa-Rica, I hope they do better than yesterday, for now they look OK. Men outrate Bolivia by 100-200, I expect them to win.

Old guy wins a pawn on 11th move – go, Korchnoi, go!

1:30pm.  Carlsen drew, Korchnoi won, both our teams are winning.

2:30pm.  Both our teams won – 3.5:0.5, great.

First of all, here is a link to the live games ( all! ).  I finally found it on

I intend to follow very closely as many games as possible,  paying attention to super-elite GMs and also to our Canadian  team.

Korchnoi plays Black with Svidler, French defense.  I support the old guy, he is 77 and still playing!  I remember breaking news on the Soviet radio about the match in Bagio with Karpov and game scores in the newspapers – big articles if Karpov won the game,  smaller if drew and just score if he lost. 


I look at the position after 14 moves, Korchnoi plays pretty agressively!  GM Svetozar Gligorich said: “No matter who is on the other side of the table, Korchnoi wants to win,  with White, with Black, and as Najdorf would laughingly say, even with green pieces.”

Our women are playing with Cuba, they are outrated on every board, but for now they look OK. Don’t have a possibility to follow the men ( I am not at home 🙂 ) and they are playing with India, so I don’t expect very good result.

After move 21 Korchnoi’s weak pawn e6 is under attack, he advances it right away. I like how he plays,and it’s  against Svidler!. Of course, 30 years ago he would beat not only Svidler, but anybody.

Korchnoi is still fighting, 42 moves, R+B vs. R+B and 5 pawns each.

Our women are doing badly, looks like the result will be 3.5:0.5. Men are 1:1 for now.

Old guy sacrificed a pawn and looks like built a fortress … he drew after 56 moves, incredible!

Women finished, unfortunately exactly as I predicted 0.5:3.5, too bad.  Men lost 1.5:2.5.

I played this Sunday the last game of the tournament.  My opponent was the guy I knew, had 2 hard fought draws with him, rating 50 lower than mine. He started with 1. e4 and after 1… e5 2. Nf3 I knew he will play Scotch game (saw his games on the Web).  I never played “rated” Scotch before. I didn’t quite like the positions I got online few times and didn’t want to play opening that somebody obviously knows better than me, so I decided to change decorations.

What about Petrov defense  ( also called Petroff defense, in Russia it was Russian game)  2… Nf6?  I knew first few moves, hoped he knows no more than that (that was right assumption), also knew it was Kramnik’s weapon.  Later I learned his statistics with Black:

+5 – 11 = 64 – 46.25%

This is higher than average in DB ( 40-43%), and 80% draws!

After several moves the position was symmetrical, boring and drawish.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d3 ( French Attack) Nf6 6. Nc3 Be7 7. Be2 O-O 8. O-O Nc6 9. h3 d5 10. d4 Re8

I remembered all bad play in this tournament and realized why GMs after that just make a draw in the next round. If he would offer it, I would agree right away.  But then situation suddenly changed.

11. Bb5 h6 This is the move I didn’t like after the game, allows Ne5. 12. Bxc6 bxc6 13. Ne5 ( now it doesn’t have the same effect as before ) Bb7 14. a3 c5

15. f4 cxd4 16. Qxd4 c5

After double c5, like after double shot of … ( whatever you drink ) the blood started to run faster in my veins.  17. Qf2 d4

18. Ne2 Ne4 19. Qe1 Bh4. Bishops are becoming very dangerous.

20. Qd1 Qd5 21. c4 Qe6 22. Qb3 Rab8 23. Qa4

( Crafty found 23.  … d3 24. Nxd3 Nd2 25. Bxd2 Qxe2 26. Nf2  Qxd2 27. Qxa7 Qxf4 28. Rad1 Qg3 29. Rd5 Re2 30. Qxc5 where White wins the piece for 2 pawns ).

23. .. a6 24. Qd7

loses the game –  24. … Qxd7 25. Nxd7 Rbd8 26. Ne5 d3

White resigned ( 27. Nc3 d2 ).