chess events


I played in the tournament last weekend, it happened about 80 km from Toronto, in Guelph, at the local university. It was well organized and the traffic was good, less than an hour drive.

I played in the U2000 section, definitely could do much better than I did, but I hope I learned some important lessons. On my play definitely reflected the fact that I was waking up early both nights – at 4:30am, 5:30am with a little sleep before leaving.

Game 1 – I got Black, we played Giuoco Piano, he choose a 7. Nc3 variation I never played OTB before, maybe blitz a few times. Good that I remembered the main line, though not as deep as I thought. After 8… Bxc3 the main line is 9. d5 and Black should play Bf6, giving back one of the knights.

I played 11… f5, thinking that after Bf5 I can be overwhelmed with defending the knight on d4, but after 12. Re1 Re8 13. Nd2 Qf6 White can’t take on e4 – 14. Nxe4 dxe4 15. Bxe4 Qh5 and Black gets two pieces for the rook.

After 16… Nd6 it was equal despite me being pawn up, but then he played Bg5. After I took the bishop he resigned.

Game 2 – I got White with the girl that got a bye in the first round. Typical Rossolimo, but my attack on the kingside did not succeed, I didn’t play f4 not wanting to give her e5 square.

So, I switched to queenside. After 21. c4 I could win c5 pawn having a good, simple position without queens. I won it anyway, but had to spend time so my queen won’t get into trouble.  37. Qb3 was better than 37. Rb5, penetrating then into her backyard. Computer plays 39. f4 too, but I consider this move a mistake and beginning of the problems for White.

I had to play 42. cxb5, maybe I didn’t play it because I didn’t like c4, but it was completely won for White. I don’t remember  why I didn’t take on c5 on move 47, probably because of Qa4, but it was winning.

49. Qf3 was a big mistake, it gave up all the advantage, 49. Qb6 Qa4 50. Qf5 was the line to play. I already started to feel fatigue and my time also was shrinking. Then I made a game losing mistake playing 56. Kg1. After 56… Qc3 I realized that I am going to lose the game. After queens exchange the pawn endgame was lost.

Game 3 – I got Black with an aged guy, he played Queen’s Pawn. The first and only possibility advantage came for me on move 17, when I could play d4. Then I didn’t understand the meaning of his 23. Bd3, played a5 and missed a skewer. I managed to win his “b” pawn and thought that I could try to hold with my two bishops.

He tried to attack my king, but couldn’t find a win and went for a 3-fold repetition.

Game 4 – it was Sunday and I came with high expectations. I got White with a young guy and our Ruy Lopez quickly went off the book. He started a play in the center with 11… d5 and could get some advantage after 14… e4, but suddenly he played 14… Nxe3. I noticed almost right away that I have 15. Na4 and played it. Then instead of 19. Nd4 the best was Ng5.

After 19… Ng4 he managed to exchange queens and weaken my pawn structure on the kingside. I missed 28. Rxf7, still had a big advantage. But I didn’t think how I will use it, didn’t have any plan and was just moving the pieces. There a mistake in my score, so I can’t connect the moves in it before move 45 with the rest. But what happened is that  I eventually I had a pawn on b2, he on b3, his rook was on the 2nd horizontal and his king joined his pieces attacking my queenside. I got a very passive position, was in a serious time trouble, then lost pawns on the kingside and then blundered a piece and resigned.

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The tournament I just played in reminded me the one I had a year ago – https://rollingpawns.wordpress.com/2009/07/06/another-milestone/
so that explains the title. Also Canada day, 2.5 after 3 games, then heartbreaking defeat in round 4 and relatively quiet tie in round 5. The difference is that then it was U1800 and now – U2100, so there is a progress. Also, the background is different, I had my kid with me playing in U1500 section after 2 years break.
Friday evening – we come early, she is nervous, I am not sure if she will play, finally we register.
Round 1 – I get lower rated opponent, 1500+, I am worried how it will go with her and feel unusually nervous. He has White, plays Ruy and I decide to go for Marshall attack again, here is the game. Funny that openings of the first 2 games exactly repeated the last 2 games in the club in the reverse order,  Marshall was last.
OK, I get again unusual move, this time I do not screw up, get an OK position and then his looking active move drops a pawn in the center. In a few moves – another mistake, allowing me to win  a piece, but I don’t see it. Then I start to lose the initiative and finally make a bad move – 29… Bf2.  I saw the  discovered attack, of course, and Bc7, if I go Qb6, but after Be2, Rd2, Qb6 I forgot that there is still Bc7.
I don’t see 31…Qc8 saving an exchange and lose it, feel terrible. At this point I am left for dead by Fritz with ~7.0 estimate, but I resist.  Soon the guy goes for complications and suddenly he doesn’t make an intermediate check and looks in disbelieve how I take his rook.
Now I have an extra piece and quickly start to move towards the end. Then I suddenly get into kind of trouble again, not playing exactly against his passer/s.
So, couple of times he has an opportunity to draw, but he doesn’t see it. I finally find the only move – 62…f5, and despite getting a queen too and also having a passer on the 7th, he gets mated.
Saturday, 10am, Round 2.
I have White, my opponent is 100+ rated, he plays French, here is the game.
I get the same Morozevich variation as in the club recently, but he doesn’t play g5.
I am OK until move 17, when I miss a strike and lose a pawn. Soon I miss a possibility to at least equalize, when I do not exchange queens – second game in the row.
Then on move 34 I sacrifice an exchange to break his pawns, expecting to get it back with a fork, but he pins my knight.  I play 31. Qe2, both his rooks are hanging and he doesn’t find Rff5, or is afraid of pawn fork g4, which doesn’t work because the pawn can be pinned. He gives the exchange back, I try to hold the position, finally the game transforms into R vs. R endgame with him having extra pawn. I have huge advantage in time, he starts to play faster. At some moment, when that advantage already decreases, I offer him a draw, do not remember before or after winning an “h” pawn  and getting 1 pawn each on different sides of the board. We advance our pawns supported by kings, when both our flags are in 9 o’clock position he suddenly agrees to a draw. The position is drawn,  since both of us have to give up rooks for the passed pawns.
Saturday, 4pm, Round 3.
I do not manage to eat anything, dealing with my kid after 5 hours of play.  3rd round starts as well as finishes a bit weirdly.  On my table I see a plastic board with deep blue squares ( the standard, that is everywhere has green squares). I ask my opponent, if we can change, he is not very happy, I go to get a normal board, when I return, the board with green is already there – with  the table number. So he covered it with his own. He ask, if his pieces will be OK, I say something if there are close to standard, luckily they are.  He plays 1.d4, here is the game. After some maneuvering ( I manage to eat a half of sandwich and piece of chocolate meanwhile 🙂 ) he loses a pawn on move 18. I slowly regroup and develop attack on the kingside, using my pawn majority. Then I play the wrong move, 36… f3, thinking the e3 is not possible and trying to destroy king’s pawn cover.
I do not find the best moves, though eventually win a pawn, but then kind of lose initiative. finally I stabilize the position and feeling tired after 5+3 hours of play offer him a draw. He refuses, then follows almost forced exchange of the rooks. Defending from the check, I put my queen for exchange, after which the endgame with opposite colored bishops sure will be a draw. Suddenly he moves his pawn h4-h5,  I take his queen. The game ends.  I say “You should have taken a draw”, trying to sound sorry. Then I put the result into the table and go. The story continues on the next day, when before the last round TD comes to me and asks, if I have my score sheet from the 3rd round. I say, that it’s at home and that he dropped his queen. TD says something like OK and goes away. Not sure, or my opponent decided to change the result next morning ( I was late for the round 4), or somebody was wondering how the drawish  game suddenly could be lost.
Sunday, 10am, Round 4.
I come having 2.5 out of 3 and high hopes for the prize. My opponent is a young guy, an expert. I learn the pairings at home, find that he plays Sicilian e6 and look up  a line in DB with very good stats, never played it before.
So, the game starts and we go along this line. It’s arguably the best game in tourney (first 25 moves) and definitely the worst (the rest), here it is.  I have an expert, winner of this tournament with 4.5/5 on the ropes, I feel it, but I can’t find the decisive move(s) and go too far trying to break his defense. Then I see, but do not play the line that keeps it at least equal, get worse and under attack, realize that I most likely lost, get upset, play fast  and blunder a pawn. Then all my exhaustion that for some reason didn’t fully showed yesterday gets me. I know I lost, so I play even faster and make the blunder, finishing the game. I don’t remember ever playing in such state, being so deeply disappointed and exhausted. The guy is nice and analyzes the game with me, showing me by the way that 28.  Ne5 Qxd6  worked because of  29.  Nxg6 .
Sunday, 4pm, Round 5.
I spend some time before looking how my kid feeds the squirrel 500 m from the place, it relaxes me. My opponent again is a young guy, rated +100.  He plays 1. e4 and I get Ruy again, this time exchange variation, here is the game. We exchange queens almost right away, it’s not against my plans and mood.
I played this OTB only once against ~200 lower rated guy, won. A few online games showed me, that it is not easy to find right places for the black pieces,  so I try to do that carefully.
In about equal position he suddenly makes move 23. Nd2, that allows 23… Nb4 forking a2 and c2 pawns. I notice, that after c3 my knight not only can be stuck  there but also can simply be lost. I decide  (finally) that this is a critical moment and calculate for about 20 minutes, trying to figure it how to extract my knight.  I see that support of the “‘c” pawn is crucial, calculate everything and then take on “a2”.  He expects it, nodding. Everything goes according to the plan, except that he uses the tempos that I spend on my “a” operation to organize an attack on the kingside, using his pawn majority.  I quickly realize the seriousness of the situation and start as at war to redeploy my pieces closer to the center of events.  I see that at the moment I can’t advance my pawns on the queenside.
My knight finally blocks the path of the pawn,  I do not see any winning perspectives due to the perfect positioning of his pieces,  “f” pawn looks dangerous and I go for 3-fold repetition. It seems like he doesn’t overestimate his position either as he starts to count the number of repetitions, then looks at me and understands my intentions. We agree to a draw. This guy is also nice,  he offers to do a post-mortem, we go through the game, he praises some of my moves, I get confirmation to my thoughts that he was aiming for a classical endgame with his pawn majority.
I ran several shootouts between Fritz and Rybka 22 starting from moves 24 and 29,   they all finish in a draw.
I think, this tournament really was a milestone. I got 7th place out of 21 and my rating went to 1900. I am satisfied with the result, but not with my play. It showed my weaknesses very well, the things that I must work on if  I want to progress. From the openings point of view it was very useful too – 2 Ruys, 1 Sicilian e6 and fashionable French variation.
Yesterday GM Alexei Shirov visited our club and gave a simultaneous exhibition.
Just to remind you that he was number four in the world in 1998  and twice reached the final of the world chess championship (his match with Kasparov didn’t happen and he lost to Anand in FIDE championship).  I also remember him getting into World Cup final in 2007 and he played very well recently in Corus,  getting the second place.

I prepared to play Black and knowing that he likes Ruy Lopez, wanted to play the Marshall attack, though I found that he plays the line I almost never played. But in the club I saw that he allowed half of the players to play White and decided to take White.

I got my Ruy (here is the game) and played the quiet d3, c3 line which has pretty good stats by the way.  After the black-colored bishops were exchanged he offered to exchange the white-colored too, but I decided to avoid it,  not wanting to get too simple, completely symmetrical position. We exchanged them eventually and I suspected that he wants to overplay me in the endgame, having a better pawn structure.  I managed to get some initiative and Fritz thinks that by playing 27. Nd6 I could get 0.73 advantage.

Generally speaking I felt like on some quiet island, separated by ledges from the storming ocean.  On my left, Shirov initiated a series of heavy blows.  After  a few moves he had an exchange for 2 pawns,  my neighbor tried to counter and finally the game ended in a draw, as I learned later. On my right I saw Shirov’s rock hanging on h6 (with the black king on g7) and it looked like taking it was leading to a mate. The guy didn’t take it, but got mated anyway.

But my quiet existence finished too, as there only a few people left standing and Shirov started to come to my board pretty fast,  it became almost a blitz. Right at that time he played 33… g4, and I could get an advantage just by taking the pawn. But I hesitated and we went into N vs. N endgame where he could get some advantage by playing 39… Nd6 instead of 39…. c5.  I managed to counteract his threats and suddenly I heard him saying: “I offer you a draw”.  Of course I agreed. That was a really happy moment.  I asked him to write something on my scoring sheet, a few words and he wrote in Russian (he knew that I am from Russia) – “Congratulations on a good play!” and signed it. Then after all the games finished I was able to talk to him in Russian together with my friend and some other guy. He was really nice answering our questions and keeping the conversation. Then the organizer announced the result: +17, =6, -2. Taking into account a very strong playing field this result was very good. But it wasn’t all, as the organizer said that Shirov offered players to go over their games in his hotel (the club was closing), which was 5 minutes drive away. Of course I couldn’t miss it.

So,  let’s say you are a singer. Can you imagine a rock star sitting at the table in the bar with you and a few other fellow singers (there were 3 other guys besides me), drinking beer and talking about your songs and rock in general?  That’s how I felt,  sitting across super-GM,  chatting and drinking my “Molson Canadian” – truly amazing.  Shirov was very friendly and relaxed.  First one guy went over his opening,  closed Ruy and Shirov showed his erudition, throwing lines and mentioning the games where these lines were played.  Then we went through my game and the level of his analysis was very high.  He saw the better moves right away and was critical of some of his own moves, especially 33… g4. He basically found everything what Fritz found later.

After spending almost an hour I had to leave, they were still looking at the next game.  I am still under huge impression of his personality, both as a chess player and a human.

I just got a nice photo, here it is. It’s right after simul ended, I am on the right, in a blue shirt, on the left my friend from work, also playing chess and in the middle – GM Alexei Shirov.

After simul with Shirov
Copyright 2010 by the photographer David Cohen.

The idea to title the post about the tournament where I just played “No pain, no gain” got quick approval after reading an excellent article
in Wikipedia about this expression.
First it was introduced by Jane Fonda in her aerobics workout videos and it was regarding
working out past of experiencing muscle aches. Bodybuilders liked it, they think (and it’s true) that muscles grow only if they suffer
and you can’t become professional if you avoid this.
And the origin goes back to the beginning of the second century.
Rabbi Ben Hei Hei said, “According to the pain is the gain.”
So, it was a big tournament, 3 days, 6 games, 40/2, SD/1.
I decided to play in U200 section and was in the bottom of the rating list.
There were 4 games for me because I had to take 2 byes on Sunday.
The result was 2 draws, 2 losses, that explains the title.
I was better or equal after all the openings, never was in the time trouble, but it wasn’t enough.
I see some things that went wrong, but I would appreciate any opinion, as well as long-term advice.
You can bypass first Fritz’s comments to get your own general view.
Game 1 –  I am White, playing with young guy, 20+.
Scandinavian. People that follow my posts know that I hate it, but I learned a few things.
He plays Qxd5, Qd6 variation and after Nf3/Bg4 I use the advice from my friend linuxguy
(given after discussion of one of my losses) and play h3/Bg5, g4/Bg6 and then Ne5.
I like my position, Fritz 11 too, but then I start to miss the good moves,
one of them – +2.79! He gradually equalizes, but his king is still in the center.
I make pawn sac to open the lines, which I thought after the game was too aggressive,
but it’s actually Fritz’s choice, though it doesn’t give any advantage.
I play the bad move, then soon another one and my position deteriorates, his kingside pawn majority becomes decisive.
I am in the bad endgame, which I step by step lose.

The idea to title the post about the tournament where I just played  “No pain, no gain” got a quick approval after reading an excellent article in Wikipedia about this expression.

First it was introduced by Jane Fonda in her aerobics workout videos and it was regarding working out past of experiencing muscle aches. Bodybuilders liked it, they think (and it’s true) that muscles grow only if they suffer and you can’t become professional if you avoid this.  And the origin goes back to the beginning of the second century.  Rabbi Ben Hei Hei said, “According to the pain is the gain.” (The Ethics of the Fathers 5:21).

So, it was a big tournament, 3 days, 6 games, 40/2, SD/1.  I decided to play in U2000 section and was in the bottom of the rating list. There were 4 games for me because I had to take 2 byes on Sunday.  The result was 2 draws, 2 losses,  that explains the title.

I was better or equal after all the openings, never was in the time trouble, but it wasn’t enough. I see some things that went wrong, but I would appreciate any opinion, as well as long-term advice.

I posted all the games,  you can first bypass Fritz’s comments to get your own general view.

Game 1 –  I am White, playing with young guy, 20+.  Scandinavian defense. People that follow my posts know that I hate it, but I learned a few things.  He plays Qxd5, Qd6 variation and after Nf3/Bg4 I follow the advice from my friend linuxguy (given after discussion of one of my losses) to play h3/Bg5, g4/Bg6 and then Ne5.  I recently remembered it, found it in DB, it’s called Lasker variation when it’s played after Qa5, but it’s also played after Qd6 . Funny that the same variation was played afterwards in the blitz game between my opponent and Russian GM and GM played h3, g4, Ne5 too!  I liked my position, Fritz 11 too, but then I started to miss the good moves, one of them – +2.79! He gradually equalized, but his king was still in the center.  I made pawn sac to open the lines, which I thought after the game was too aggressive, but it’s actually Fritz’s choice, though it doesn’t give any advantage, just equal.  I played a bad move, then soon another one and my position deteriorated, his kingside pawn majority became decisive.

Game 2 – I am White again, playing with the old guy. I knew he will play Caro-Kann and he does. I play Tartakower (fantasy) variation that GM Bareev suggested,  I played quite a few blitz games with it, liked it and it looks to me like a less common variation. The guy confirmed that after the game,  saying it was a first time he got it. Good!  Nevertheless, he chooses the best answer e6 – 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 f3 e6, then in a few moves he gives me 2 bishops. I feel I am better, but can’t decide what plan I should pursue. Meanwhile he counters in the center and I get some calculation work to do. Pawns get exchanged, then queens. I am a bit underdeveloped, so I try to fix it without giving up any material or position. Still, has to give back the bishop, position becomes completely equal, he offers a draw, I agree. Fritz’s estimated this position as 0.00. Interesting, that as opposed to the first game, Fritz doesn’t find anything to criticize me for at all, “perfect game” :).  

Game 3 ( 5th round) – I am Black, playing with the guy 45-50 years old. He starts 1. c4 Nf6 2. d4. I decide to play Benko gambit, it resurrected in my blitz play recently after a year of absence, I found that it’s easier than Grunfeld, where there are too many variations and some of them I don’t quite like.  In total I counted ~100 Benko blitz games,  so good time to try it. I think it took him by surprise, nevertheless he accepted it, and for some time played it quite right. But the time he was spending was 1.5 times more than mine. I played all the book, then all the typical moves. He was almost suffering under pressure. Suddenly, after thinking for 20-25 minutes, he makes the move I was afraid of – 22. Qa4,  forcing the queens exchange . Yeah, they say that even after that the Black in Benko gambit still has the initiative, but I didn’t feel like that. So, I retreat, but finally queens are exchanged. He has about 12.5 minutes for 16 moves, I have about 40, but the position became pretty simple and another rook exchange is coming up with his next move. He makes that move and suddenly offers a draw. I think for 5 seconds, weighing my 2 bishops and time against his spare “a” pawn and agree. He points at his pawn with some gesture, meaning it’s not worth much and hurries away.  I realize later, that the max I could get was his “a” pawn, the rest was on the kingside where 2 bishops wouldn’t be such a big advantage.  Fritz evaluated this as – -.27, just quarter of a pawn for me. And he would probably make his moves in time in such a simple position. I don’t know.  I saw how FM whom I know very well, grinded down one guy rated 270 lower than him in completely equal R+B endgame, cornered his king – something like Kh1,  R at g2 and B on the same diagonal and made a pawn break. The guy having just 30 seconds left until end of the game to think about it simply resigned. They both agreed that the guy screwed up and it should be a draw. But my guy was rated 100 higher than me, not 270 lower. Still, here is the professional approach. Funny that at home Crafty finds that his best move was the worst one, losing a piece in 3 moves. “Meaningless” queens exchange , then my nice bishop for knight? and boom! I attack his knight and he has nowhere to go. OK, exchanges are looking absurd when I am a pawn down,  but it’s a forced line, right?  So, I have to calculate it, no matter I like it or not  and evaluate the arising position. I didn’t do it, so didn’t get rewarded for the lots of time spent for the opening preparation and for actually well played game.

Game 4 ( 6th round) – I play with an old guy, Black again, 1. e4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 transpares to French, Classical. I am OK after the opening, but then chose the wrong plan 15. … f6.  I just don’t see f4 coming, which refutes my plan with Bg6. I miss the possibility to counter-attack on the queenside and don’t find the right defense against his maneuver  Nc1-d3-c5  (though I see it) with the purpose of attacking a6 and e6. I lose a pawn, but it’s not the end of it. My bishop is really bad and the pressure becomes stronger and stronger. Finally I miss his rook penetrating to the 7th line with the forced mate in a few moves. Painful loss, and I leave the tournament being pretty upset. I calm down later after running the games through Fritz and seeing that I had my chances and not everything was bad.

I feel that something important is missing from my preparation. The ability to find the right plan, to see the right move and calculate doesn’t come with blitz, so blitz will be essentually reduced. I don’t actually know how you learn it – by l0oking at GM games, playing slow games? I don’t quite like artificial exercises and don’t feel anymore that playing correspondence games gives me much. Maybe I should try to play longer games on the Web?  One of my thoughts before the tournament was that  I should play more OTB with the stronger opponents and I saw how right it was.

I played in the big tournament last Friday-Sunday, in U1800 category, with time control 30/90, SD/60.
Did some preparation before, got the games from the online DB played in 2008/2009 in the country –
most of the players in my category were present there. Made some kind of matrix for the openings.
Friday evening, Game 1 – I play with the guy from the local club, rated ~1525, I am White.
I played with his brother, won twice in Sicilian.
Surely enough, the boy plays Sicilian, same 2. Nc6. I play same Bb5, we get the same line as with the brother.
The guy starts to think heavily. Move by move it looks like on FICS when your opponent is behind by time more and more
and you know he will be in trouble. I have initiative, he is behind by an hour at some point. On 18th move he loses a pawn,
and then has to blitz. He exchanges queens, then loses another pawn, and while thinking on 30th move his time expires.
The endgame is lost anyway.
Saturday – I wake up at 6am, think about my possible future opponents, can’t sleep anymore.
Not that I am not accustomed to sleep 5 hours, but to play 2 possibly 5-hour games?
Game 2 – 10am, I play with the boy whom I know – though didn’t play before, rated ~1500.
He was the country champion U8 in 2008.
I saw his games, he played once against French – chose Advanced variation, Milner-Barry gambit.
I know his coach too, he is a French expert. We start, of course he plays the same gambit.
I suddenly decide that I am not in the mood to defend, maybe just don’t feel very fresh or feel not ready  –
I played it before only couple of times blitz online.
Ok, I decline and chose the line that actually has stats – +2 (White), =1.
But I don’t know that, so I get rid of my “bad” bishop and slowly develop.
Suddenly he makes a mistake – I see a combination and funnily enough win that pawn that he offered
for free in the opening. But the situation is completely different. I get strong pawns in the center,
but he gets a pawn on f6 (h7,g6,f7), which I don’t like. Each of us has a queen and 2 rooks.
So, I move my central pawns and he tries to create some counterplay on the kingside.
Suddenly he makes a move Rh3 and I just shake my head. This move  creates the threat of queen moving to h6
with Qxh7/Qg7 mate. I look and look, and in order to defend give up one of my central pawns.
The queens get exchanged, then 2R vs. 2R endgame looks even worse for me, but I make a good counter-attacking move
by rook. One couple of rooks will be exchanged, equal rook endgame – he offers a draw, I agree.
I am  a bit upset, though find some consolation in the fact that drawing with the boy champion not that bad –
considering how one our fellow blogger does against these boy/girl champions :).
These kids can be really good, quite a few of them beat the crap out of some 1700+ in our category.
After I came home I found out that I didn’t have to give up the pawn, after his queen was moving on h6
my queen was taking pawn f6 and liquidating the threat Qg7#.
I saw it in one of the lines, but since I wanted to put one of the rooks on 4th-5th line,
I thought that I will lose another rook after Qh8+ …. The thing is I didn’t have to take the rook from 8th.
Then that threat of double mate again hypnotized me and I forgot about all this.
There is a lot of time remains until 3rd round, I look at the games that others play and
see how one master tries to mate another with knight and bishop.
It’s not easy, the king escapes and I lose patience. Later I check the result, it’s a win.
Game 3 – 4pm, I slept 15 minutes in the chair and feel better than in the morning, this time I am in the fighting mood.
Again, the guy from the local club, I won twice against him. I am White, he plays the same Sicilian 2. …d6 we played before,
I play the same Moscow variation, Bb5. He develops, then suddenly plays d5. That’s what Black supposed to
do, but not now ! The plan is different from the 1st game, but also wrong.
I had one similar correspondence game, where after d5 the play opened up, but it was to my advantage
since I was better developed. Here happens the same thing.
“c”, d”, “e” verticals open and I create a pressure along them. He defends, pressure gets stronger,
he blinders a piece and resigns.
2.5/3 after first 2 days, I start to get some high hopes.
Sunday – I sleep better, learn about my opponent still being at home, rated same as me, he plays White.
The last game he played was 1. c4, 2. Nc3, I quickly learn how I can play here my much rehearsed Grunfeld.
It’s called Anglo-Grunfeld defense.
Game 4 – 10am, we start and I get that Anglo-Grunfeld. I play the trappy line (which is the best too),
he doesn’t bite, but plays the line with worse stats for White. I try to play positionally and get some advantage.
Move by move, he manages to equalize. I have less than 40 minutes for 13-14 moves and don’t quite like it.
He offers a bishop exchange, it’s unavoidable, but I don’t want to follow with possible queen exchange,
so after Qc4+ I don’t move Qf7, but quickly go Kh8 and suddenly to my horror he skewers me with Bc5 and I lose exchange.
I had this square under control before, but his queen gets to c4 with the check and then controls it too…
I am devastated, needlessly lose another 2 pawns and after forced queen exchange resign.
Again lots of time, even more than yesterday :), so I watch the game between Russian GM and
IM, 2008 Canadian champion.
GM’s attack looks very strong, he sacked the knight on g6 and IM doesn’t take it.
Another few attacking/defending moves, suddenly I see that GM can sac the queen for the rook on g7 and then
fork queen and king with the kight, winning exchange. It doesn’t look very obvious since
the “fork” square is controlled by Black’s knight, but the knight is pinned.
The fact of finding combination consoles me, I share this idea with another guy, he confirms that I am right.
I say – “Why don’t I see this stuff in my own games?” He laughs.
GM thinks and makes another move, I am surprised. Suddenly IM starts giving checks,
GM is in the time trouble, he has less than 2 minutes, though they have 30 seconds increment.
Another check and it’s a mate! GM shakes his head, he can’t believe it.
They start to look at the game, it’s still after that possible sac.
I tell them in Russian about that sac, they don’t pay attention.
When they finally reach that point, I tell it to GM again, he says something like he knows (knew) that.
I think maybe he thought the mate is here, that’s why he didn’t do it.
OK, I realize that I got too excited about it and leave.
3pm – 5th round is in an hour, I am still mad at myself.
Looking at the table I decide that my opponent will be 1400+ rated boy,
who already beat one 1700+ and drew with another.
I don’t care, I want to tear him apart and since I should be White even think about playing Smith-Morra
(most of the kids play Sicilian).
Game 5 – pairings come and I see that I play against the leader, 20-something guy, rated a bit higher than me, with Black.
Change of plans :). Saw him playing French, so supposedly he knows this shit, even from other side.
Also, I feel that intermittency is better for me, so I decide if 1. e4 e5.
Sure, 1. e4, Scotch. I never had it OTB before and don’t like it when get it online.
Anyway, first book moves, then he suddenly offers a queen exchange.
He is ahead by 0.5 of a point, and as the following shows wants to play safely (not necessarily wanting a draw).
I exchange the queens. At home I find out, that Qf3 it’s a novelty and a bad one.
Crafty says, that White should give up a pawn or go into a crazy line, where Black gets 3 pieces for a queen and White
king goes to d3! Crafty evaluates it as -3.00. I try to attack on the queenside after his O-O-O,
but without queens it doesn’t look very dangerous. We exchange both rooks, and the position becomes drawish.
I make a move and offer a draw. He looks somewhat confused and refuses after some thinking.
I am surprized a bit, but say OK and continue, after a few moves offering another knight exchange.
After that the position looks even more drawish. He looks at me with another type of confusion,
says something confirming that and we agree to a draw.
I quickly learn that my shared 3rd place with 3 points out of 5 doesn’t equal to 3rd by people
(there are at least 4 people that will have/have 3.5/4 points ) and I won’t get any money.
OK, it’s not that I make a living doing this.
I kind of hoped for more, still 3/5 and performance rating ~1700 is not that bad.
I clearly see that in order to progress I should play more with the people of my rating (and higher).
Also I see that dynamic evaluation (which is done at the end of each analysis line,
after you have tried to determine a potential sequence of moves) still remains my Achilles tendon.

I played in the big tournament last Friday-Sunday, in U1800 category, with time control 30/90, SD/60.  Here is the story,  red titles are the links to the chessflash games.

Did some preparation before, got from the online DB the games played in the country in 2008/2009  – most of the players in my category were present there.

Friday evening, Game 1 – I play with the guy from the local club, rated ~1525, I am White.  I played with his brother, won twice in Sicilian.  Surely enough, the boy plays Sicilian, same 2. Nc6. I play same Bb5, we get the same line as with the brother.  The guy starts to think heavily. Move by move it looks like on FICS when your opponent is behind by time more and more and you know he will be in trouble. I have the initiative, he is behind by an hour at some point. On 18th move he loses a pawn, and then has to blitz. He exchanges queens, then loses another pawn, and while thinking on 30th move his time expires.  The endgame is lost anyway.

Saturday – I wake up at 6am, think about my possible future opponents, can’t sleep anymore.  Not that I am not accustomed to sleep 5 hours, but to play 2 possibly 5-hour games?

Game 2 – 10am, I play with the boy whom I know – though didn’t play before, rated ~1500.  He was the country champion U8 in 2008.  I saw his games, he played once against French – chose Advanced variation, Milner-Barry gambit.  I know his coach too, he is an expert in French . We start, of course he plays the same gambit.  I suddenly decide that I am not in the mood to defend, maybe just don’t feel very fresh or feel not ready  – I played it before only couple of times blitz online.  Ok, I decline and chose the line that actually has stats – +2 (White), =1. But I don’t know that, so I get rid of my “bad” bishop and slowly develop. Suddenly he makes a mistake – I see a combination and funnily enough win that pawn that he offered for free in the opening. But the situation is completely different. I get strong pawns in the center, but he gets a pawn on f6 (h7,g6,f7), which I don’t like. Each of us has a queen and 2 rooks.  So, I move my central pawns and he tries to create some counterplay on the kingside. Suddenly he makes a move Rh3 and I just shake my head. This move  creates the threat of queen moving to h6 with Qxh7 or Qg7 mate. I look and look, and in order to defend give up one of my central pawns.  The queens get exchanged, then 2R vs. 2R endgame looks even worse for me, but I make a good counter-attacking move by rook. One couple of rooks will be exchanged, equal rook endgame – he offers a draw, I agree.

I am  a bit upset, though find some consolation in the fact that drawing with the boy champion is not that bad.  These kids can be really good, quite a few of them beat the crap out of some 1700+ in our category.

After I came home I found out that I didn’t have to give up the pawn, after his queen was moving on h6  my queen was taking pawn f6 and liquidating the threat Qg7#.  I saw it in one of the lines, but since I wanted to put one of the rooks on 4th-5th line, I thought that I will lose another rook after Qh8+ …. The thing is I didn’t have to take the rook from 8th.  That threat of double mate again hypnotized me and I forgot about all this.

There is a lot of time remaining until 3rd round, I look at the games that others play and see how one master tries to mate another with knight and bishop. It’s not easy, the king escapes and I lose patience. Later I check the result, it’s a win.

Game 3 – 4pm, I slept 15 minutes in the chair and feel better than in the morning, this time I am in the fighting mood. Again, the man from the local club, rated a bit higher than 1500,  I won twice against him. I am White, he plays the same Sicilian 2. …d6 he played before, I play the same Moscow variation, Bb5. He develops, then suddenly plays d5. Yes, that’s what Black is supposed to do, but not now !  I had one similar correspondence game, where after d5 the play opened up, but it was to my advantage since I was better developed. Here happens the same thing.  “c”, d”, “e” verticals open and I create a pressure along them. He defends, pressure gets stronger, he blunders a piece and resigns. 2.5/3 after first 2 days, I am starting to get some high hopes.

Sunday – I sleep better, get pairings from the Web,  my opponent is rated same as me, he plays White. He played 1.e4 in the past , then the last game was 1. c4, 2. Nc3.  I quickly learn if I can play here my much rehearsed  (never played OTB) Grunfeld. I can, it’s called Anglo-Grunfeld defense.

Game 4 – 10am, we start and I get that Anglo-Grunfeld. I play the trappy line (which is the best too), he doesn’t bite, but still plays the line with worse stats for White. I try to play positionally and get some advantage. Move by move, he manages to equalize. I have less than 40 minutes for 13-14 moves and don’t quite like it.He offers a bishop exchange, it’s unavoidable, but I don’t want to follow with possible queen exchange, so after Qc4+ I don’t move Qf7, but quickly go Kh8 and suddenly to my horror he skewers me with Bc5 and I lose exchange. I had this square under control before, but his queen gets to c4 with the check and then controls it too… I am devastated, needlessly lose another 2 pawns and after forced queen exchange resign.

Again lots of time, even more than yesterday :), so I watch the game between Russian GM and IM, 2008 Canadian champion (speaks Russian too).  GM’s attack looks very strong, he sacked the knight on g6 and IM doesn’t take it.   Another few attacking/defending moves, suddenly I see that GM can sac the queen for the rook on g7 and then fork queen and king with the knight, winning exchange. It doesn’t look very obvious since the “fork” square is controlled by Black’s knight, but the knight is pinned. The fact of finding combination consoles me, I share this idea with another guy, he confirms that I am right.  I say: “Why don’t I see this stuff in my own games?”  He laughs.

GM thinks and makes another move, I am surprised. A few more moves, suddenly IM starts giving checks. GM is in time trouble, he has less than 2 minutes, though they have 30 seconds increment.  Another check and it’s a mate! GM shakes his head, he can’t believe it, he had him on the ropes. They start to look at the game, it’s still after that possible sac. I tell them in Russian about that sac, they don’t pay attention. When they finally reach that point, I tell it to GM again, he says something like he knows (knew) that. I think maybe he thought the mate was there, that’s why he didn’t do it.

OK, I realize that I got too excited about it and leave.  3pm – 5th round is in an hour, I am still mad at myself. Looking at the table I decide that my opponent will be that 1400+ rated boy who already beat one 1700+ and drew with another. I don’t care, I want to tear him apart and since I should be White  I even think about playing Smith-Morra (most of the kids play Sicilian).

Game 5 – pairings come and I see that I play against the leader, 20-something guy, rated a bit higher than me, with Black. Change of plans :).  Saw him playing French, so supposedly he knows this shit, even from the other side.  Also, I feel that intermittency is better for me, so I decide if 1. e4 then 1. … e5.

1. e4, Scotch. I never had it OTB before and don’t like it when get it online. Anyway, first book moves, then he suddenly offers a queen exchange. He is ahead by 0.5 of a point, and looks like wants to play safely (not necessarily wanting a draw). I exchange the queens. At home I find out, that Qf3 is a novelty and a bad one. Crafty says, that White should give up a pawn or go into a crazy line, where Black gets 3 pieces for a queen and White King goes to d3! Crafty evaluates it as -3.00. I try to attack on the queenside after his O-O-O, but without queens it doesn’t look very dangerous. We exchange both rooks and the position becomes drawish. I make a move and offer a draw. He looks somewhat confused and refuses after some thinking. I am surprized a bit, but say OK and continue, after a few moves offering/forcing another knight exchange. After that the position looks even more drawish. He looks at me with another type of confusion,  says something confirming my position estimation and we agree to a draw.

I quickly learn that my shared 3rd place with 3 points out of 5 doesn’t equal to 3rd by people (there are at least 4 people that will have/have 3.5/4 points ) and I won’t get any 1st-3rd place prize  money. OK, it’s not that I make a living doing this.

Well, I kind of hoped for more,  still 3/5 and performance rating ~1700 is not that bad. I clearly see that in order to progress I should play more with the people of my rating (and higher).  Also I see that dynamic evaluation (which is done at the end of each analysis line, after you have tried to determine a potential sequence of moves) still remains my Achilles tendon. And always think before making an obvious move, sometimes it’s the worst one, like mine in the 4th game or GMs before he got mated ( at least he was in the time trouble). I will try to post my games today/tomorrow,  too many pictures for 5 games, looks like will have to use the chessflash that linuxguyonfics uses.

Last Thursday I was able to attend lecture and simul given by GM Evgeny Bareev. He is an elite GM,  in October 2003 he was in fourth place in the world rankings, with an Elo rating of 2739.  He reached the quarterfinals in the FIDE World Championships in 1999 and 2001,  and was a semifinalist in the Candidates Tournament for the classical world championship at Dortmund 2002. Also he was a second to Kramnik in his matches with Kasparov and Leko. He wrote a book  “From London to Elista” which became a winner of the English chess federation 2008 Book-of-the-Year Award, the most prestigious chess book prize in the world.

The lecture was about Caro-Kann, which he is playing, also he answered some questions. I was impressed how easy he was throwing variations and lines, at the same time showing the whole picture of the opening. By the way, the “hot” line now is 1.e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 – never saw it.  I already tried it blitz and started also correspondence game with it.  He talked about World Championship match, said that there is a chance that it will be in Sofia if there will be an additional 500,000 – 700,000.  He said that there are tough times now, with the sponsors disappearing one after another. I asked him, what about Carlsen or Aronian becoming World Champion in the next 3 years and he said – definitely.  He has a great sense of humor and the audience was really enjoing the conversation.

Then the simul started,  there were 24 people playing. I was glad to get  1. e4,  but his second move 2. Bc4 got me thinking.

Here is the game:

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Be7 4. f4

bar1

Crafty says I had to play 4….d5 here,  I agree, I played 4 . … Nc6.  5. Nf3 d6 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 Bd7 8. a3 h6 9. f5 – this is for playing too passively.

5. Nf3 d6 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 Bd7 8. a3
h6 9. f5

bar2

9. f5 Re8 10. Kh1 Na5 11. Ba2 c5 12. Rg1 Rc8 13. g4 c4 14. g5 – Crafty still estimates it only as 0.18, but I already had a bad feeling.

Bar3

14. … hxg5 15. Bxg5 Nh7 – I didn’t like this move almost as soon as I did it, Crafty – 1.62 . 16. Bxe7 Qxe7 17. Nd5 Qd8

bar4

17. Nd5 Qd8 18. Qd2 Kh8 – threatened  Qh6 19. Rg3 f6 – another bad move, Crafty offers – 19. … cxd3 20. Qxd3 Nc6 21. Rag1 Bxf5 22. exf5 e4 23. Qc4 exf3 24. Rxg7 with 1.6 estimate.

bar5

20. Rag1 Rg8 – Crafty again recommends cxd3 and Bxf5. 21. Nh4 Ng5 – I saw coming sacrifice, but g5 just prolonged the agony, so I decided what the hell! He thought max 2 seconds, then 22. Qxg5! – Black resigned  (22. … Qe8 23. Rh3 fxg5 24. Ng6# or  22. … fxg5 23. Ng6+ Kh7 24. Rh3# ).

bar6

I asked for his autograph and he signed the score sheet. I was consoled by the organizer that one of the participating masters lost at the same time. The total was – +19, =3, -2, there were a few masters and experts, the rest I think – “A” and “B”.

Chess Carnival – February 15, 2009 Edition appeared on chessvine.com. To my surprise, my post “Are you afraid of the Marshall attack?” became a winner in “Opening Theory” category:

http://chessvine.com/archives/299-Chess-Carnival-February-15,-2009-Edition.html

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