Day 1-Round 1

I had a few good days of rest. I did not look at chess, but I tried to think about my play more critically. In Barcelona, I generally tried to oversimplify matters. I also didn’t have a sense of urgency when the position demanded it. Of course, all goes back to that 8th round game.

The time off was very important. The most important thing was that I felt healthy again. I averaged about 5 cups of tea per day as well as some cold medicine while I was not playing. I felt close to 100% by the time it was time to compete again.

A new tournament means a fresh start. I had one concern about the event: two rounds per day. I have not done well in such a tournament in a long time. I did poorly at the 2008 Edmonton International, as well as the 2005 Zurich Open. I can’t quite remember any other tournaments which had two rounds a day in which I played recently. So I had mixed feelings about the potential for me in this format.

The first round pairing was a surprise. I got to play an FM. My opponent, rated about 2150, has lost some of his skills over the years. But a titled player is a titled player. I could not take my opponent easily. I also prefer to not play with black in the first round. It just makes things a bit more difficult, especially in odd number of round events, give one more black games. Here is the game.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2010.09.02”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Mihok”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “80”]
[EventDate “2010.09.02”]
[SourceDate “2010.09.02”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 d5 3. Bxf6 exf6 4. e3 Bd6 5. Bd3 f5 6. Qf3 g6 7. Nd2 c6 8. Ne2
Nd7 9. c4 dxc4 10. Nxc4 Bb4+ 11. Nc3 Nc5 12. Bc2 Be6 13. Nd2 Nd7 14. O-O O-O
15. Rfd1 Nf6 16. Bb3 Qe7 17. Rac1 Rad8 18. a3 Bd6 19. Bxe6 Qxe6 20. h3 Rfe8 21.
Na4 f4 22. exf4 Qf5 23. Nc5 Qxf4 24. g3 Qxf3 25. Nxf3 Re7 26. Kf1 Kg7 27. Re1
Rde8 28. Rxe7 Rxe7 29. Nd3 Ne4 30. Rc2 f6 31. b4 g5 32. a4 a6 33. g4 Kf7 34. h4
h6 35. h5 Ke6 36. Kg2 Kd5 37. Kf1 Bb8 38. Kg2 Ba7 39. Kf1 Bxd4 40. b5 c5 0-1

The pairings were posted right before the round. Common practice. The organizers were making sure everybody made it. There were some last minute cancellations. There was also a waiting list of about 10 players. All 10 players were entered into the event. It’s not  that there were only those people who wanted to enter, it is that the organizers limited their waiting list to a number they were sure they can enter.

Anyways, all this meant no preparation for my game. I started thinking on move 2. I decided to choose the solid line I played. I get 2 bishops and a solid position.

Everything went quite normally until my opponent saw 9.c4. My goal for the event was to complicate games and not just look for the simplest moves. This is why I was happy to play my idea with 11.Nc5.  My opponent wanted to stir the game into simpler waters, and I had no choice but to agree with 13…Nd7.

Everything seemed to be going fine in the early middle-game. I realized that my opponent knows where to put the pieces in such a position. I was happy to play 21…f4, which was a strong move. It creates problems for my opponent. It required some calculation.

24.Qxf4 Bxf4 25.Nxb7 was interesting. Where I have to choose between Rxd4 and Rb8. It feels like I am pressing a bit in both variations, but it is unclear how to convert anything.

I was happy to get the position after 25…Re7, since it is statically better for me. I can play against that isolated pawn all day. I also have the bishop. But it also became clear that this was not going to be easy.

27…Bxc5 28.dxc5 Ne4 would have been interesting. It looks like I have an advantage there. I didn’t want to commit to that exchange though. I wanted to keep playing against the isolated pawn.

29.Nd3 was a mistake. It made my play much easier. I immediately grabbed the initiative with 29…Ne4. It doesn’t look like anything too dangerous, but it is very unclear as to what white is to do. I played the next few moves pretty quickly. I saw that my opponent had no idea as to what to do with this position. 33…Kf7 was a sneaky move. h5 was a possible alternative. I wanted to make it look like my king is going to d5. It’s not too scary, but I thought it might look threatening in the future.

35.h5 was a serious strategical mistake. My opponent needed to exchange that pawn. In the game, any f5 breaks are quite strong. Without the h5 pawn, those breaks would be useless.

My opponent started playing back and forth with his king. He was quite low on the clock. After getting my king on d5, I decided to think for some time about how to win the position. 37…f5 would have been quite strong. I didn’t really see how my opponent would stop my bishop maneuver though.

My opponent should have played 39.Nc5, which would make my job harder. The way my opponent continued made my life easy. In the final position my opponent resigned because he has absolutely no good moves. Every one of my pieces is place better than every one of his.

The game looks like a smooth win. Very positional. First rounds are never too enjoyable with a rating difference of over 400 points. It’s a game I am supposed to win. It feels like just doing my job.

I saw the tournament venue the day before, but I only took pictures the day of the first round. The first thing that you should know about this event is that it’s about quality, not quantity. All of the playing halls are very spacious. The playing venue was the LGA office building. LGA was the main sponsor of the event.

The event had different playing halls, all with good names!

Tarrasch playing hall, where I spent all the rounds.

The organizers table.

Something that was a very nice addition to the event was Yochanan Afek’s studies. It enjoyed an audience of what I think was about 30 people at 7pm every night. I am going ahead here, because the first day did not have one of these studies. The last 3 days did . There were more people in the audience the last night. Yochanan’s studies were posted in the beginning of every day, and three prizes were given daily to those who got them right. It added to the tournament.

GM Michael Bezold giving one of the prizes to a winner. The winners were :lottery winners”, with the young girl you see drawing names from the colorful box.

First day was finished. Time to prepare psychologically for two rounds a day.

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3 Responses to Day 1-Round 1

  1. Denton Cockburn says:

    I like the new look, it’s more professional.

  2. Denton Cockburn says:

    My random thoughts (let’s see if I can get some of the other readers to comment too):

    Why is 19…Qxe6 stronger than 19…fxe6, which would undouble the pawns and allow you to play for …e5?

    Instead of 21. Na4, wouldn’t 21. b4 make more sense? with the same idea of Na4-c5. If black plays something like 21…a5, Rb1 perhaps, with a minority attack in the works if there’s a trade on b4. At least he’d maintain control of e4 for a bit longer (which would stop the …f4 idea, because then e4).

    Why not 29. Re1. With the pawn on f7 able to come to f6, the knights had no chance of being able to exploit an outpost on e5. It looks drawish after 29. Re1, but maybe that’s why he avoided it.

    I have no idea what 30. Rc2 is about.

    Nice endgame win though. It looked like there was nothing white could do but wait for the execution.

    • That’s a lot of questions:). I will reply to a few. I feel like 19…Qxe6 is a better attempt at a win. If I take with the pawn and then play e5, it just leads to more pawn exchanges. Leaving my pawn on f7 also keeps my king safer and gives me more space.
      I am sure my opponent did not avoid 29.Re1 because he thought it was “drawish”. Throughout the game, he showed no intent to play for anything but a draw. 29.Re1 could be interesting after 29…Bxc5 30.dxc5 Rxe1 31.Nxe1 Ne4 where I have the initiative and the more active pieces. I can cause some problems there, for example 32.Nd3 Nd2+ 33.Ke2 Nb3 where my knight is annoying and hard to move on b3. I am not sure I would have actually gone for it, since exchanging pieces is a commitment. He should be trying to force these exchanges though.
      29.Nd2 makes it very hard for me to breakthrough, and should have been the preferred defense.

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