Round 4

Vinay showed me his novelty right before the round today. No, not a chess novelty. It was a new way to get to the playing hall. The bus route proved to be faster and more convenient than our usual subway route. A much shorter walk, followed by a bus ride, which included AC.

My opponent today was stronger than before, in IM Khmelniker, rated approximately 2480. As I wrote yesterday, I have known Ilya since my days back in Israel. The game is below.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2010.08.23”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Khmelniker”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “D85”]
[PlyCount “46”]
[EventDate “2010.08.20”]
[SourceDate “2010.08.23”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bd2 Bg7 6. e4 Nb6 7. Be3 Nc6 8.
Bb5 O-O 9. Bxc6 bxc6 10. Nge2 Ba6 11. O-O e5 12. dxe5 Bxe5 13. Re1 Nc4 14. Qc1
Bg7 15. Bc5 Re8 16. f4 Nb6 17. e5 Qd7 18. Ne4 f6 19. Bf2 Bxe2 20. Rxe2 fxe5 21.
fxe5 Rxe5 22. Qc2 Rae8 23. Rae1 Kh8 1/2-1/2

To somebody who might not look at the game carefully, or not understand enough about it, it might look like the so called “GM Draw” which everybody hates. Just because the game lasted 23 moves means absolutely nothing about fighting spirit.

I played this rare 5.Bd2 line in the Gruenfeld for the first time in my life. You might recall that I played a different line in my second round game against the same opening. One can study openings in two different ways, either focusing on depth or breadth. This is an example of me focusing on breadth. This makes it harder to prepare for me. Of course, I can potentially get confused in the opening myself, without adequate depth in my preparation.

My opponent played a rare line himself, with 7…Nc6. I took on c6 a bit too early instead of developing my knight first. I wanted to fix those doubled pawns and prepare them for my future work on them. This might be oversimplifying my task, and I never go to working those pawns.

The next moves appeared quite logical for the two sides. 14.Qa4 would have led to some serious complications after 14…Nxe3 15.Qxa6 Nc2 16.Red1. At the end of that line, black can sacrifice the queen for two rooks by taking on a1. Upon looking at that position a second time, the queen appears to be more valuable in that final position. However, black can also continue with 16…Qf6 with a complicated game to follow.

14.Qc1 was an attempt at consolidation. I have the better pawn structure, but black has two bishops and the initiative. If the initiative dies down, I should be better. That’s exactly what I was trying to do with the next moves.

All was going well until my 18th move. By placing my pawns on f4 and e5, the initiative black temporarily had was now forgotten. I should have played 18.Nd4 with an advantage for white. It is not clear how black should continue to play the position, since his play is very limited.

I played 18.Ne4? to not allow f6. And he just played 18…f6. I was in disbelief. Now I am losing my e5 pawn. To be honest, I sat there in a complete state of shock for a few minutes. It’s hard to let the advantage go (psychologically that is, physically its easier than some might think). But it’s necessary. I knew I gave it up. I immediately understood what a stupid move I made.

Why did I make the move? Well that’s what I need to figure out. It’s hard to explain it with anything except for rust. How do I miss the simple f6? I just need to focus on more thorough calculations. In the past, I excelled in those cases. I’m sure I will in the future. But today, I missed the simple f6.

I was very upset at myself. But what’s done is done, any good player will tell you that much. It’s time to forget. My mentality had to change. It took a few minutes, but then that’s exactly what I did. From playing for a win in a position with an advantage, I started to play for a draw in a position which I felt was worse.

My moves 19-23 were first order moves. I am proud of that. When I ran into problems, I dealt with them well. Following his 23rd move, my opponent offered me a draw. I thought about it for a few minutes. I was still upset at myself. I was sure my position cannot be better. Taking these factors into consideration, I simply took the draw.

I am still upset at myself. This is a learning experience. I need to find a way to keep up the pressure for the long stretches. How can I miss something like f6? Black had one idea in the position. Of course I looked at it. But I just assumed that since I have two pieces hitting f6, he can’t play it. The only other move I seriously considered was Nd4 for myself.

After the game, Ilya told me that he was not feeling well because of the heat. A lot of people are complaining at the heat level in the playing hall. No AC and lots of people in one room will do that to you in Barcelona at this time of the year…

The final position is probably close to equal, but it is only black who might be able to pursue realistic chances of playing for a win. It’s not easy to say the least though.

A lot of surprises in the tournament. There is currently a five way to for first place. None of the top 18 rated players are in that pack! This shows how even this field really is. A lot of upsets occurred today and yesterday. Top seed, GM Markowski, lost yesterday with the white pieces. He was actually up a pawn in what should have been a winning bishop vs knight endgame, but the tables turned.

I know I wrote about physical activity earlier on, and how good it is during tournaments. Well, I finished my game pretty fast today. Unfortunately, Vinay lost today. We took our revenge on GM Cabrera and others in table-tennis in intense doubles matches at the residence. We only lost one set out of approximately 10 which we played… I also got a chance to work out a bit during a break in which a new ball needed to be found as the old one was stepped on. The table-tennis is in the gym, and the gym is only open until 10.30pm daily, making it hard to make it there in time after the longer lasting games.

Need to have a short memory at chess tournaments. Tomorrow is a new day. What happened today should not affect it. It’s the chess player’s code (unofficially and only recognized by me so far;)).

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2 Responses to Round 4

  1. Denton Cockburn says:

    Hey Mark,

    Wishing you the best in your tournament. I know it must suck to make a bad move and regret it, but it at least makes us lesser players feel a little better to see a GM make some mistakes we make. I’m sure you’ll bounce right back for your next game. Just take it out on that player, it’ll make you feel better 🙂

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