Third Free Day and Rounds 11-13

Third Rest Day

This would be the last free day in Wijk. It was time to mix up the rest day activities. Blow Carting (aka Land Sailing) was organized on the beach in the afternoon. The instructors were headed by Arlette Van Weersel, who did not let us fall (too many times). It was a nice addition to the side events. Where else would you go Blow Carting? I have never heard of the activity before. There was a good turnout among the young players from the invited GM Groups. Great photos of this event are to come at a later date.

Round 11

I was paired against Mark Van der Werf for this round with the White pieces. I was hoping to bounce back into the positive scores. I felt relatively confident about my play with the white pieces so far. Things looked good in the early going.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.01.28”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Van der Werf”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “173”]
[EventDate “2011.01.10”]
[SourceDate “2011.01.27”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Nge2 b6 6. a3 Ba5 7. Rb1 Na6 8. g3
Bb7 9. d5 b5 10. Bg2 bxc4 11. O-O O-O 12. e4 d6 13. Bg5 exd5 14. Nxd5 Bxd5 15.
Bxf6 Qxf6 16. Qxd5 Rab8 17. Qxc4 Nc7 18. Nf4 Rfe8 19. Qc2 Qd8 20. Rfd1 Ne6 21.
Nd5 Qd7 22. Qd3 Qb5 23. Qxb5 Rxb5 24. b4 Bd8 25. Bf1 Rb8 26. f3 cxb4 27. Rxb4
Rxb4 28. axb4 Nc7 29. Nf4 Ne6 30. Bb5 Bb6+ 31. Kf1 Rd8 32. Nd5 Kf8 33. Bc4 Rb8
34. f4 Bd8 35. Ra1 Rb7 36. Ba6 Rb8 37. Bc4 Rb7 38. Ra6 Bb6 39. Nxb6 Rxb6 40.
Ra4 Rb7 41. Ke2 Ke7 42. Bd5 Rc7 43. Kd3 Nf8 44. Ra5 Nd7 45. Kd4 h6 46. h4 Nf6
47. Bb3 Rb7 48. b5 Rc7 49. Ra3 Rb7 50. Bc4 Rc7 51. Be2 Nd7 52. g4 Nf8 53. f5
Nd7 54. g5 hxg5 55. hxg5 Ne5 56. Ra6 Kd7 57. Ra3 Ke7 58. Ra1 Kd7 59. Rh1 Rc2
60. Ke3 Rc8 61. Rh7 Rg8 62. Kd4 Ke7 63. Rxg7 Rxg7 64. f6+ Kf8 65. fxg7+ Kxg7
66. Kd5 f6 67. gxf6+ Kxf6 68. Kxd6 Nf7+ 69. Kd5 Ne5 70. Bc4 Nf3 71. Kd6 Ne5 72.
Be2 Nf7+ 73. Kd5 Ne5 74. Bh5 Nd3 75. Kd6 Ne5 76. Kd5 Nd3 77. Kc6 Ke5 78. Bf3
Ne1 79. Bd1 Kxe4 80. Kb7 Kd5 81. Be2 Nc2 82. Kxa7 Nd4 83. b6 Nc6+ 84. Kb7 Kc5
85. Bf3 Nd8+ 86. Kc7 Ne6+ 87. Kb7 1/2-1/2

It was another Nimzo Indian with Nge2. I got a clear and risk free advantage early on. I felt very comfortable about the position but also knew that a lot of work needed to be done.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Nge2 b6 6. a3 Ba5 7. Rb1 Na6 8. g3
Bb7 9. d5 b5 10. Bg2 bxc4 11. O-O O-O 12. e4 d6 13. Bg5 exd5 14. Nxd5 Bxd5 15.
Bxf6 Qxf6 16. Qxd5 Rab8 17. Qxc4 Nc7 18. Nf4 Rfe8 19. Qc2 Qd8 20. Rfd1 Ne6

I had to make my first real decision at this point. Black wants to exchange knights or put his knight on d4. My advantage in the position lies in the awkward placement of the black bishop and the weakness of the d6 pawn. In this sense, it doesn’t matter what I do with the knights, my advantage should remain. But how to maximize it? 21. Nd5 21.Nxe6!? was interesting, with the idea of putting pressure on d5 after that. I wanted to keep the knights on to avoid any ideas of getting opposite coloured Bishop endgames. 21.Ne2 Qb6 does not offer white much. 21… Qd7 22. Qd3 Qb5 23. Qxb5 Rxb5 24. b4 Bd8 25. Bf1 Getting my bishop into the action. 25… Rb8 26. f3 cxb4 27. Rxb4
Rxb4 28. axb4 Nc7

This is one of the critical position in the game. 29. Nf4 29.Ne3 d5 30.Nxd5 Nxd5 31.exd5 was interesting. Once again, I was trying to avoid the exchange of the knights. Black will have decent drawing chances in the endgame, but it will be a long one. I thought I will keep my playable advantage alive with the text. 29… Ne6 30. Bb5 Bb6+ 31. Kf1 Rd8 32. Nd5 Kf8 33. Bc4 Rb8 34. f4 Bd8 35. Ra1 Rb7 36. Ba6 Rb8 37. Bc4 Rb7 38. Ra6 Bb6

Another time for a decision. It doesn’t look like I am making any progress and the black bishop is close to finding life. Nc7 is also a threat. I decided to transpose my advantage into an endgame where I have a bishop against the knight. 39. Nxb6 Rxb6 40. Ra4 The exchange of rooks would simplify Black’s task, since my bishop cannot operate on its own. 40… Rb7 It’s clear that white is better, but how to improve? The answer is: slowly. First it’s important to bring the king in. Then expand on the king side, with the pawns, in order to try to create another weakness or entrance. It’s easier said than done. A lot of it depends on what the opponent will do. 41. Ke2 Ke7 42. Bd5 Rc7 43. Kd3 Nf8 44. Ra5 Nd7 45. Kd4 h6 46. h4 Nf6
47. Bb3 Rb7 48. b5 Rc7 49. Ra3 Rb7 50. Bc4 Rc7 51. Be2 Nd7 52. g4 Nf8 53. f5 Nd7 54. g5 hxg5 55. hxg5 Ne5 56. Ra6 Kd7

There is another route to get in, but there is no hurry. I also don’t want to scare my opponent too much, in the sense that I don’t want to alarm him. Alarming opponents usually makes them play well. It’s clear that my rook needs to go to h7 one way or another. 57. Ra3 Ke7 58. Ra1 Kd7 59. Rh1 It was important to calculate that I can allow the opposing rook to invade because he can’t make any threats in my camp. 59… Rc2 60. Ke3 Rc8 61. Rh7 Rg8 62. Kd4 Ke7 Decision time. I got what I wanted, a chance to breakthrough. After calculating variations for a long time, I realized I had no choice. I can’t make progress unless I go for the kill right now. My opponent is preparing to play g6, after which my position becomes stale. 63. Rxg7! Rxg7 64. f6+ Kf8 65. fxg7+ Kxg7 66. Kd5 f6 I went into a deep think again. I had originally planned to play 67.Kxd6, but I could not find a win after the precise 67…Nf7+ 68.Kc7 fxg5 69.Kb8 Nd6! 70.e5 Nxb5! 71.Bxb5 Kf7 72.Bc4+ Ke7 73.Kc7 g4 74.Kc6 g3 75.Bd5 g2 76.Bxg2 Ke6 and I lose my last pawn. 67. gxf6+ Kxf6 68. Kxd6 Nf7+ 69. Kd5 Ne5 70. Bc4 Nf3 71. Kd6 Ne5

I felt like there should be something here. My opponent has been moving his knight back and forth in the attempt to show that I can’t breakthrough. Unfortunately, I could not find the win with only a few minutes of the clock after more than six hours of play. 72. Be2? 72.Bd5! Nf3 73.Bc6! Ne5 74.Kc7 wins for white. Very simple. I could have done the same later on by taking the same type of a route with the bishop (through b3).  Nf7+ 73. Kd5 Ne5 74. Bh5 Nd3 75. Kd6 Ne5 76. Kd5 Nd3 77. Kc6? Bd1 followed by Bb3 would still have won the game for me. After this, there is no going back.  Ke5 78. Bf3 Ne1 79. Bd1 Kxe4 80. Kb7 Kd5 81. Be2 Nc2 82. Kxa7 Nd4 83. b6 Nc6+ 84. Kb7 Kc5 85. Bf3 Nd8+ 86. Kc7 Ne6+ 87. Kb7 1/2-1/2 We had actually played some more moves that I did not record in here.

Sometimes after a game like this you say “Can’t win them all”. After this, it sort of felt like I can’t win any. Once again I let another half point slip. Our game was the last one of the round to finish. It’s disappointing to press for a win the whole game and come up short against a substantially lower later opponent.  Two games remain.

Round 12

I was to play GM Sebastian Siebrecht in this round with the Black pieces. Sebastian was the lowest rated GM in our group. I wasn’t planning on holding back. With two rounds remaining I was gonna keep trying to go after my opponent just as before.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.01.29”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Siebrecht, S.”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “68”]
[EventDate “2011.01.10”]
[SourceDate “2011.01.29”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. Qa4+ Nbd7 8. e4
Bg7 9. Bd3 O-O 10. O-O a6 11. Qc2 Nh5 12. a4 Ne5 13. Be2 f5 14. exf5 Bxf5 15.
Qd1 Nxf3+ 16. Bxf3 Nf6 17. Bf4 Qd7 18. a5 Rae8 19. Na4 Be4 20. Nb6 Qd8 21. Bg5
Bxf3 22. Qxf3 h6 23. Bxf6 Qxf6 24. Qg3 Re7 25. Rad1 Kh7 26. Nc4 Re4 27. Nxd6
Rf4 28. Nxb7 Qe7 29. b4 Rxb4 30. Nxc5 Qxc5 31. d6 Rd4 32. d7 Rd8 33. Rde1 R8xd7
34. Re6 Qf5 0-1

I played the Benoni once again. I wanted to get something complicated, but also something that I am comfortable with, early on. My opponent decided to surprise me early.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. Qa4+

This is a very rare move which my opponent hasn’t played before. The idea is to awkwardly place Black’s pieces while he is trying to develop. 7… Nbd7 The right solution, 7… Bd7 is answered with Qb3. 8. e4? 8.Bf4 is the accurate way to try to stall Black’s development. 8… Bg7 9. Bd3 Now 9.Bf4 would have been answered by 9… O-O, where White can’t take on d6 because of Nb6. 9… O-O 10. O-O a6 11. Qc2 My opponent had been blitzing up to this point. I wanted to get into something which I was comfortable with and avoid preparation. Little did I know that we were already far away from his preparation. The blitzing was a bluff. 11… Nh5 11… b5! was better. If white decides to force the issue with 12.a4 c4 13.Be2 b4 14.Nd1 Re8! gives black the advantage. 12. a4 Ne5 13. Be2 f5 Trying to put more pressure on my opponent while also opening up my pieces. 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 15.Bxh5 Qh4 is good for black. 14. exf5 Bxf5 15. Qd1 Nxf3+ 16. Bxf3 Nf6 17. Bf4 Qd7 18. a5 Rae8 19. Na4

White’s pieces look awkwardly placed but the knight is going to a strong outpost on b6 or c4. 19… Ne4 was interesting, where 20.g4 doesn’t work tactically due to 20…Qf7 21.gxf5 Qxf5 22.Bxe4 Qxf4 23.f3 Bd4+ 24.Kg2 Be5 25.Rh1 Qg5+ 26.Kf1 Bd4.  19… Be4 20. Nb6 Qd8 21. Bg5 Bxf3 22. Qxf3 h6 23. Bxf6 Qxf6 24. Qg3 Re7? This moves gives away my advantage. I needed to choose from 24…Qxb2, where 25.Qxg6 is bad because of Re2 or play 24… Qf5 25.Qxd6 Bxb2, where I feared 26.Qxc5. Black should still have the advantage after grabbing the exchange.  25. Rad1 Kh7 26. Nc4 Re4

Things have gotten sharper, with the position being very close to balanced. White needs to play 27.b3, to have a retreat for the knight from d6. Possible continuations there would be 27.b3 Rd4 28.h3 (28.Nxd6 Rd8, where the knight would still get stuck on b7 if it goes there) 28…h5 27. Nxd6? My opponent goes wrong right away because he missed my next move. 27… Rf4! The knight is not getting out 28. Nxb7 Qe7 28.d6 Qxb7 29.d7 Rd4 also wins for black. White has no choice but to go down a piece. 29. b4 White hopes for compensation after 29… Qxb7? 30.bxc5. 29… Rxb4

30.Nd6 is answered with  30…Rd8. The knight is still stranded in the enemy’s camp. The rest of the game is easy. 30. Nxc5 Qxc5 31. d6 Rd4 32. d7 Rd8 33. Rde1 R8xd7
34. Re6 Qf5 0-1

It was good to get this win. The Benoni proved to be a reliable opening for me once again. My opponent blundered when he got the chance. Fatigue might be getting the better part of the players at this point. I feel like the quality of the games has gone down in this long and energy consuming event.

Round 13

I was paired against Ivan Ivanisevic in the last round. Ivan was the second seed in the event and currently in third place, a full point ahead of me. I was looking forward to this game. I enjoy playing higher rated opponents, as those games present a bigger challenge than coming into rounds with the mindset of having to win games. I also thought of this last round as a warm up for Aeroflot. The tournament standings told me I needed to win this game.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.01.30”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Ivanisevic”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “93”]
[EventDate “2011.01.10”]
[SourceDate “2011.01.29”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nf3 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. g3 Qc7 7. Qd3 Nc6 8.
Ndb5 Qb8 9. Bf4 e5 10. Bg5 a6 11. Bxf6 axb5 12. Bxg7 bxc4 13. Qb1 Rg8 14. Qxh7
Rxg7 15. Qxg7 d5 16. Bg2 d4 17. O-O dxc3 18. bxc3 Bxc3 19. Rac1 Nd4 20. Kh1 Bd2
21. Rxc4 Be6 22. Ra4 Ke7 23. Rxa8 Qxa8 24. Qxe5 Qa4 25. Qc7+ Bd7 26. Qc5+ Ke8
27. Bxb7 Ne6 28. Qd5 Ba5 29. Rc1 Qa3 30. Rd1 Qa4 31. f4 Bb6 32. Rd3 Nd4 33.
Qe5+ Kd8 34. Qd6 Qa5 35. Kg2 Qb5 36. a4 Qb2 37. Bf3 Kc8 38. a5 Bc6 39. Kh3 Bd7+
40. g4 Ba7 41. a6 Qa1 42. Kg2 Qb2 43. Qf8+ Kc7 44. Qxf7 Qb5 45. Rc3+ Kb6 46.
Qf6+ Ka5 47. Qd6 1-0

My opponent generally plays the Nimzo or King’s Indian setups, which is why his second move came as a surprise to me. I decided to avoid his preparation with my reply and we soon transposed into a Nimzo Indian where White plays g3.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nf3 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. g3 Qc7 The main theoretical lines are 6… O-O and 6… Ne4.

I remember looking at this move before, but I was mainly on my own from now on. I replied to this rare idea confidently. 7. Qd3 Nc6 8. Ndb5! Creating immediate problems for Black. 8… Qb8 9. Bf4 Forcing black to either weaken the d5 square forever or get into an annoying pin with 9… Ne5. 9… e5 10. Bg5 a6 11. Bxf6 axb5 White is also better after 11…gxf6 Na3, where Black’s pieces are awkwardly placed and the king’s safety will be challenged soon. 12. Bxg7 bxc4 I knew that my opponent preferred positions where there is chaos on the board and there is little to change about the nature of the position now. I am not one to avoid those positions either! 13. Qb1! The idea is simple. I am trying to avoid any unpleasant squares with my queen as I retreat to safety. Black is forced to move the rook. 13…Ra3 is answered with 14.Qc1. 13… Rg8 14. Qxh7 Rxg7 15. Qxg7 d5

What a wild position. White is up an exchange and a pawn up. I took the easy way out at this point. 16. Bg2?! Objectively better is 16.e3! Be6 17.Bg2, with Black not having enough play with his pieces. With the text I give back a full piece but safely castle my king. It is Black who will have to defend while White is playing risk free. 16… d4 17. O-O dxc3 18. bxc3 Bxc3 19. Rac1 Nd4 20. Kh1 20.Bd5 Qc7 21.Kg2 was stronger. 20… Bd2? Black needs to return the bishop to the defense of the king with 20…Bb4, followed by Bf8 at some point. 21. Rxc4 Black is in very serious trouble after this move. 21… Be6 Black allows a beautiful shot. Can you spot it?

22. Ra4! It felt nice to play this idea. Black can’t play 22…Rxa4 because of 23.Qg8+ and the taking of the queen. Black has no choice but to give away his e5 pawn. 22… Ke7 23. Rxa8 Qxa8 24. Qxe5 The position is very close to winning. White has a rook and three pawns for the two minor pieces while also maintaining hopes of an attack. 24… Qa4 25. Qc7+ Bd7 26. Qc5+ Ke827. Bxb7 Ne6 28. Qd5 Ba5 29. Rc1 Qa3 30. Rd1 Qa4 Black is running out of moves. There is no need to rush. I would prefer the safe 31.h4 or Kg2 to my next move. 31. f4?! This move does not spoil my winning advantage but gives Black an attempt at counter play by weakening my king. Sometimes it’s good to go for the slow squeeze than the immediate kill. 31… Bb6 32. Rd3 Nd4 33. Qe5+ Kd8 34. Qd6 Qa5 35. Kg2 Qb5 36. a4 Qb2 37. Bf3 Kc8 38. a5 Bc6 39. Kh3 The slower way to win. I did not want fireworks around my king on or around the 40th move, but a faster win was provided by 39.axb6 Qxe2+ 40.Kh3 Qf1+ 41.Kg4 Bxf3+ 42.Kg5.  39… Bd7+ 40. g4 Ba7 41. a6 Qa1 42. Kg2 Qb2

It’s nice to have the White pieces in this position. With four pawns and a rook for the two minor pieces, there is no reason not to increase the material advantage, making Black’s position even more hopeless. 43. Qf8+ Kc7 44. Qxf7 The greedy way is the most efficient one in this position. A rare picture where Black has no pawns, yet the board is full of pieces. White plans to advance the g-pawn next 44… Qb5 Allows for a quick finish. 45. Rc3+ Kb6 46. Qf6+ Ka5 47. Qd6! Threatening Ra3+. 47…Nb3 is answered with 48.Qa3+ and the capture of the knight 1-0

A good way to finish the tournament. This was a spectacular win and one of the most aesthetic ones in my career. Ra4 was a great move to play. I won the prize for the best game of the day in the C Group for this win, the only time I took the prize during the event. With this win, I finished the tied for 4th to 6th place with 7.5/13.

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