February 28th Lecture

On February 28th I gave a lecture at the Annex Chess Club (ACC). Over 40 people attended. You can find ACC’s summary of the lecture on their site. Members of the club voted on the games they wanted to see. I analyzed my two wins against GM Ivanisevic and FM Nikolaidis.

Photos: copyright 2011 by David Cohen.

As obvious as it might sound, lectures are a completely different experience for the lecturer and the audience. The audience relies on the lecturer to present quality material with energy. The lecturer relies on the audience to stay attentive and participate. The crowd at the ACC was a great one. There were players of all ages. The audience was very engaged throughout the lecture and asked many good questions. This two way interaction was great and made the atmosphere a great one.

I have been playing and studying a lot in my professional year of chess. Everything has been very intense. It has been stressful at times. This lecture was a lot of fun. It was great to be in an environment where everybody was enjoying themselves because of the game of chess. It was great to see chess in such a fun and relaxed setting. It was refreshing.

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Simultaneous Exhibition at Wilfred Laurier University

I’m happy to announce that I will be giving a simultaneous chess exhibition on March 30th, at Laurier University, in Waterloo. I will be playing up to 30 boards. You can see details at this link. The simul is organized by the Faculty of Science.

I am not aware of such an event being held at a Canadian university before. I hope this is the start of something bigger. It would be great if chess could take on a bigger role in more post-secondary institutions.

I hope you come out to support the event!

 

 

Rounds 8 and 9

Round 8

I was paired against GM Alsina, rated 2531, with two rounds to go. I decided to test out the Berlin one more time.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.02.15”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Alsina, D.”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “C67”]
[PlyCount “175”]
[EventDate “2011.02.08”]
[SourceDate “2011.02.08”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. dxe5 Nxb5 7. a4 Nbd4 8.
Nxd4 Nxd4 9. Qxd4 d5 10. exd6 Qxd6 11. Qe3+ Be7 12. Nc3 c6 13. Re1 Be6 14. Ne4
Qc7 15. Nc5 Bxc5 16. Qxc5 b6 17. Qa3 c5 18. a5 O-O 19. axb6 Qxb6 20. Be3 Rfc8
21. Qc3 Qb4 22. Qe5 Qc4 23. c3 Rc6 24. Ra5 f6 25. Qg3 Qb3 26. Rxc5 Rxc5 27.
Bxc5 Qxb2 28. h3 Bf7 29. Bd4 Qb8 30. Qxb8+ Rxb8 31. Bxa7 Rb7 32. Bd4 Bd5 33. g4
Kf7 34. Kh2 Kg6 35. Ra1 Kf7 36. Kg3 Be6 37. h4 h6 38. Kf4 Rc7 39. g5 fxg5+ 40.
hxg5 hxg5+ 41. Kxg5 Bc4 42. f4 g6 43. Rh1 Rc6 44. Rh7+ Ke6 45. Rh3 Kf7 46. Re3
Be6 47. Re2 Bf5 48. Rb2 Ke6 49. Rb5 Bd3 50. Re5+ Kf7 51. Bc5 Rc7 52. Bd4 Rc6
53. Rd5 Be4 54. Rd7+ Ke6 55. Rg7 Kd5 56. Bf6 Bf5 57. Rg8 Bc2 58. Rd8+ Ke6 59.
Re8+ Kd5 60. Re5+ Kd6 61. Be7+ Kd7 62. Bb4 Rc4 63. Re7+ Kd8 64. Rg7 Ke8 65.
Re7+ Kd8 66. Re2 Bf5 67. Be7+ Kd7 68. Bf6 Rc6 69. Re7+ Kd6 70. Ra7 Ke6 71. Ra4
Kd5 72. Rd4+ Ke6 73. Rb4 Bd3 74. Be5 Bf5 75. Bd4 Bd3 76. Rb8 Kf7 77. Rb7+ Ke6
78. Rg7 Kd5 79. Re7 Re6 80. Ra7 Rc6 81. Be5 Bf5 82. Re7 Bc2 83. Bf6 Kd6 84. Re2
Bf5 85. Be7+ Kd7 86. Bb4 Rc4 87. Re5 Bc2 88. Re2 1/2-1/2

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. dxe5 Nxb5 7. a4 Nbd4 8.
Nxd4 Nxd4 9. Qxd4 d5 10. exd6 Qxd6 11. Qe3+ Be7 12. Nc3 c6 13. Re1 Be6 14. Ne4

Everything is standard up until now. 14…Qe5!  15.f4 Qf5 16.Qf2 0-0 17.Ng3 Bh4! equalizes for Black. I did not sense the pressure that might be coming from my opponent’s preparation and played the more passive move. 14… Qc7 15. Nc5 Bxc5 16. Qxc5 b6 17. Qa3 c5 I want to castle and equalize. 18. a5! White continues to put pressure on the queen side. If 18… Rc8 19. axb6 axb6 20. Qa4+ Qd7 21. Qb3! and Black is unable to equalize. 18… O-O I was not happy to make this move. With my queen side pawns broken up I failed to get full equality. 19. axb6 Qxb6 20. Be3 Rfc8 21. Qc3 Qb4 22. Qe5 Qc4 23. c3 Rc6? I’m on the ropes after this move. 23…a5 was necessary to try to maintain the balance. 24. Ra5 f6 25. Qg3 Qb3 26. Rxc5 Rxc5 27. Bxc5 Qxb2 28. h3 Bf7 29. Bd4

When trying to hold onto a draw, chess is about making hard decisions. 29… Bg6 30. Re7 only makes my life more difficult. 29… Qb8! A move that promises Black the best practical chances of holding on and forces the exchange of queens. 30. Qxb8+ Rxb8 31. Bxa7 Rb7 32. Bd4 We have arrived at a crucial position for the development of the endgame. What should Black do? I decided to answer that question with “nothing”. It is often the hardest thing to do. None of my pawn advances seem to help me and I decided to stay put. 32… Bd5 33. g4 Kf7 34. Kh2 Kg6 35. Ra1 Kf7 36. Kg3 Be6 37. h4 h6 38. Kf4 Rc7 It’s hard for White to make progress. One of the possible ideas is to put pawns on h5 and f3 but that would kill the hope of future pawn breaks. 39. g5 fxg5+ 40. hxg5 hxg5+ 41. Kxg5 I was happy to exchange two pairs of pawns. Black’s job should now be easier. 41… Bc4 42. f4

I did not want to let White’s pawn into f5. I might have some more problems with the g7 pawn then. 42… g6! This move fixes the f4 pawn and restricts White’s king. I knew that now all I need to do is disallow any advances of the c-pawn as well as look for exchange sacrifices on g6. 43. Rh1 Rc6 44. Rh7+ Ke6 45. Kxg6 Bd3+ does not work for White, since he would actually lose the whole rook! 45. Rh3 Kf7 46. Re3 Be6 47. Re2 Bf5 48. Rb2 Ke6 49. Rb5 Bd3 50. Re5+ Kf7 51. Bc5 Rc7 52. Bd4 Rc6 53. Rd5 Be4 54. Rd7+ Ke6 55. Rg7 Kd5 56. Bf6 Bf5

57. Rxg6 Bxg6 58. Kxg6 Ke4 draws easily. White continues to try and maneuver. 57. Rg8 Bc2 58. Rd8+ Ke6 59. Re8+ Kd5 60. Re5+ Kd6 61. Be7+ Kd7 62. Bb4 Rc4 63. Re7+ Kd8 64. Rg7 Ke8 65. Re7+ Kd8 66. Re2 Bf5 67. Be7+ Kd7 68. Bf6 Rc6 69. Re7+ Kd6 70. Ra7 Ke6 71. Ra4 Kd5 72. Rd4+ Ke6 73. Rb4 Bd3 74. Be5 Bf5 75. Bd4 Bd3 76. Rb8 Kf7 77. Rb7+ Ke6 78. Rg7 Kd5 79. Re7 Re6 80. Ra7 Rc6 81. Be5 Bf5 82. Re7 Bc2 83. Bf6 Kd6 84. Re2 Bf5 85. Be7+ Kd7 86. Bb4 Rc4 The rook is well placed on c4 as long as the White bishop is on b4. 87. Re5 Bc2 88. Re2 1/2-1/2 We agreed to a draw. I would have claimed a draw three moves later since there has been no pawn advances or piece captures in 47 moves!

It was comforting to survive this game. This was the longest game of the round. My recent results in very long games have not been stellar (to say the least) and it was good to get to draw that I fought so long for. Need to play more carefully in the opening.

Round 9

I was paired against GM Sethuraman, rated 2545, for this round. There is always motivation going into the last round because it’s always important to finish strong. That was the plan.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.02.16”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Sethuraman”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “71”]
[EventDate “2011.02.08”]
[SourceDate “2011.02.08”]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-O
dxc4 9. Bxc4 b5 10. Bd3 Bb7 11. Ng5 h6 12. Nge4 Nxe4 13. Nxe4 Be7 14. a3 a5 15.
Rb1 c5 16. dxc5 f5 17. Ng3 b4 18. axb4 axb4 19. c6 Rc8 20. Nxf5 Rxf5 21. Bc4
Rxc6 22. Qxf5 Qb6 23. Qb5 Qc7 24. b3 Ne5 25. Bb2 Nxc4 26. bxc4 Ba6 27. Qe5 Qxe5
28. Bxe5 Bxc4 29. Rfc1 Kf7 30. Rb2 Ra6 31. Rbc2 Bd5 32. f3 b3 33. Rc7 Ke8 34.
e4 Bd6 35. exd5 Bxe5 36. Rb7 1-0

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-O
dxc4 9. Bxc4 b5 10. Bd3 Bb7

11. e4 and 11. a3 are the main moves in this position. I went for a much more rare continuation. 11. Ng5 11… Bxh2 12. Kxh2 Ng4+ 13. Kg1 Qxg5 14.f3 Ngf6 15. e4 gives White strong compensation for the sacrificed pawn.  11… h6 12. Nge4 Nxe4 13. Nxe4 Be7 Simplest way for Black to equalize.  14. a3 a5 15. Rb1?! It’s hard to suggest a way for White to still fight for the advantage. This is certainly not it though. 15… c5 16. dxc5 16… Nxc5 17. Nxc5 Bxc5 equalizes. 16… f5

Black is playing very energetically. 17.c6 Rc8 18. Nc5!? would have been interesting. I had something else in mind. 17. Ng3 b4 18. axb4 axb4 19. c6 Rc8 20. Nxf5 Rxf5? 20… Rxc6! 21. Nxe7+ Qxe7 22. Qb3 would have left White up a pawn but with no clear way to continue his development. The arising position would have been rather unclear.

21. Bc4! The move that my opponent missed. An easy move to overlook. White suddenly threatens Qxf5 in addition to the obvious moves. 21… Rxc6 21…Rc5 22. cxb7 R8c6 23. b3 would have been hopeless for Black. White’s only remaining problem is to get his pieces out. 22. Qxf5 Qb6 23. Qb5 Qc7 24. b3 Ne5 25. Bb2 Nxc4 26. bxc4 Ba6 27. Qe5 Qxe5 28. Bxe5 Bxc4 29. Rfc1 Once we reached this position I knew the win is near. White playing f3 and e4 will later make Black’s life very uncomfortable. An important point from now on is to contain Black’s pieces and threats. 29… Kf7 30. Rb2 Ra6 31. Rbc2 Bd5 32. f3 b3 33. Rc7 Ke8 34. e4 Bd6

The last trick. It’s important to not get nervous when the win is so close. 35. exd5 Bxe5 36. Rb7! Threatening Rc8 mate, among other things. 1-0

This was an important win to get. I was able to trick my opponent soon after a shaky opening. My mind was working well when tactics arose and that was a positive sign. Always nice to win the last round. Bc4 was a “feel good” kind of a move. Finishing the strong tournament at 50% is somewhat encouraging. However, this was not achieved thanks to my games against the big guys.

Round 5-7

Round 5

I was paired against GM Mareco with White in this round. I knew that my opponent plays the Nimzo Indian and so I had to make a choice. I decided to go for something solid and different very early on. I was hoping to stop the bleeding of the White pieces.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.02.12”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Mareco, S.”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “40”]
[EventDate “2011.02.08”]
[SourceDate “2011.02.08”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. Bd3 Nc6 8.
Ne2 b6 9. e4 Ne8 10. O-O Ba6 11. f4 f5 12. Ng3 g6 13. Be3 cxd4 14. cxd4 d5 15.
cxd5 Bxd3 16. Qxd3 fxe4 17. Qxe4 Qxd5 18. Qxd5 exd5 19. Rac1 Ne7 20. Bd2 Rf7
1/2-1/2
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. Bd3 Nc6 8.
Ne2 b6 9. e4

I decided to experiment with this line. My opponent came prepared and played the most critical line of the variation, deviating from his previous game. 9… Ne8 Black meets the attack with a retreat. The most important thing to note is that Black intends to play f5 later, after which White’s two bishops will not be such a hot commodity. 10. O-O Ba6 11. f4 White intends to expand with e5 or f5 next, after which life for Black will not be so easy. 11… f5! The greedy 11… Na5 is met with 12. f5 with a dangerous attack. Black’s move fixes the pawn structure and shows the vulnerability of bishops in a closed position. White’s dark squared bishop lacks potential squares. The bishops will have trouble finding air. 12. Ng3 g6 13. Be3 cxd4!? an interesting move that opens up the position and gives it some clarity. 14. cxd4 d5 Black wants to isolate the White dark squared bishop and then take advantage of its lack of activity.

White needs to find some breathing room for his soon to be only remaining bishop. 15. cxd5 Bxd3 16. Qxd3 fxe4 17. Qxe4 17. Nxe4 Qxd5 does not solve the problem of the bishop but gives White some play in the center and a potential break with d5 and play against the e6 pawn. At this point, I decided to exchange queens and follow it up with a future f5 break, which will give my bishop breathing room 17… Qxd5 18. Qxd5 exd5  19. Rac1

19… Ne7?! 19…Rc8 20.f5 Nd6 would keep White on his toes but the position is still about equal. 20. Bd2 Rf7 Black offered a draw in this position, which I accepted after some thought. There is a dynamic balance. Neither side can push for a win too hard.
1/2-1/2

I was satisfied with stopping the bleeding with the White pieces. Not much action in this game. I was hoping that a semi rest day in the middle of the tournament would help me finish the trip on a positive note.

Round 6

Only in Aeroflot will one be paired against GM Motylev, rated 2687, while sitting at 50%. I knew that this game would be a tough one. My Berlin would take a real test.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.02.13”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Motylev, A.”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “61”]
[EventDate “2011.02.08”]
[SourceDate “2011.02.08”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. Bxc6 bxc6 7. Nxe5 d5 8.
d4 Bb6 9. O-O dxe4 10. Bg5 Qd5 11. Nd2 Nd7 12. Nxd7 Bxd7 13. Be3 f5 14. g3 f4
15. Bxf4 Bh3 16. Qb3 Bxf1 17. Rxf1 Kh8 18. Be3 Rab8 19. Qc4 a5 20. Qa4 c5 21.
dxc5 Bxc5 22. Qxa5 Rf5 23. Qxc7 Rxb2 24. Qc8+ Bf8 25. c4 Qf7 26. Nxe4 Re5 27.
Nd6 Qe7 28. Bd4 Ree2 29. Nf5 Qb4 30. Bxg7+ Kg8 31. Qd7 1-0

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. Bxc6 bxc6 7. Nxe5 d5 8.
d4 Bb6 9. O-O

9… dxe4 9…Nxe4!? was played in Kurnosov-Volokitin last year and offered Black good play. 10. Bg5 Qd5 11. Nd2 Nd7 11…Ng4!? was interesting as 12.c4 Nxf2 produces a position with complete chaos and 12.Nxg4 Qxg5 results in something close to equality. 12. Nxd7 Bxd7 13. Be3 f5 14. g3

I spend some time in this position. The only problem in my position is the bishop on b6. 14… c5 is answered with 15. dxc5 Bxc5 16. Nxe4, where Black will fight long and hard for the draw while being down a pawn. 14… f4!? I decided to sacrifice the pawn and force my opponent to make some hard decisions.  15. Bxf4 Bh3 White is forced to give up the exchange as 16.Re1 is punished with a strong attack that follows after 16…e3. 16. Qb3 Bxf1 17. Rxf1 Kh8 18. Be3 We have arrived at a critical position. It’s clear that my bishop is still not getting out in the near future. I have a rook for a knight and a pawn. I also have some problems with my pawn structure. White is not risking much in this position but might not be better. 18… Rab8 19. Qc4 a5 20. Qa4 c5! The crucial test. My bishop comes alive but I have to part with my a-pawn. 21. dxc5 Bxc5 22. Qxa5

Black has two choices: Rfd8 or Rf5. I chose the wrong one with some faulty calculations. 22… Rf5? After this move, my position become very difficult. 22… Rfd8! equalizes after 23.Bxc5 e3! (24.Nb3 loses to 24…e2) 24. fxe4 Qxd2 25.b4 Ra8 26.Qxc7 Rxa2 27.Qxd8 Qxd8 28.Rf8 Qxf8 29.Bxf8 Rc2, leading to an endgame that should be drawn. 23. Qxc7 Rxb2 24. Qc8+ Bf8 25. c4 Qf7 26. Nxe4 Re5 White is converting his big advantage with precision.

27. Nd6! Also threatening to play Bd4. Black’s position is lost. 27… Qe7 28. Bd4 Ree2 29. Nf5 Qb4 30. Bxg7+ Kg8 31. Qd7 1-0

An interesting game. It was a tough battle which I lost with one bad move. I am pleased with my energetic play by first sacrificing the pawn on f4 and then playing c5 at the right time. The only problem was my 22nd move. I feel like I was not able to compete in my first two losses. I had put up better resistance in this game. It is not a good tendency to lose to all players rated substantially higher rated than me though.

Round 7

I was paired against GM Mekhitarian, rated 2528, with White in this round. I was hoping to get back to 50%. We went into a line which is experiencing a theoretical debate at this time.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.02.14”]
[Round “7”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Mekhitarian, K.”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “D80”]
[PlyCount “48”]
[EventDate “2011.02.08”]
[SourceDate “2011.02.08”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3 dxc4 6. Qxc4 O-O 7. e4 a6 8. Be2
b5 9. Qb3 c5 10. dxc5 Be6 11. Qc2 Nbd7 12. Be3 Rc8 13. Rd1 b4 14. Nd5 Bxd5 15.
exd5 Nxc5 16. O-O a5 17. Bb5 Nce4 18. Bc6 Nd6 19. Qe2 Nf5 20. Rfe1 Qc7 21. Rc1
Ng4 22. Bc5 Nd4 23. Bxd4 Bxd4 24. Rf1 Bf6 1/2-1/2

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3 dxc4 6. Qxc4 O-O 7. e4 a6 8. Be2
b5 9. Qb3 c5 10. dxc5 Be6 11. Qc2 Nbd7 12. Be3 Rc8 13. Rd1 b4 14. Nd5 Bxd5 15.
exd5 Nxc5 16. O-O

Kasimdzhanov-Rodshtein occurred at the same tournament with the same position on the board. Black’s two attempts at equality include the text move as well as 16… Nce4. 16… a5 17. Bb5!? An interesting idea. White attempts to put his bishop on c4 in order to contain Black’s pieces. 17… Nce4 18. Bc6 Nd6

19. Qe2 19.Bf4 is an interesting alternative. 19… Nf5 20. Rfe1? Too slow. 20.Ne5 Qc7 21.f4 would have attempted to get Black’s pieces in a positional bind. 20… Qc7 Suddenly, Black’s pieces come out. e6 and Ng4 are possible threats. 21. Rc1

21… Ng4! I had underestimated the strength of this move. Black want to take on e3 while also looking at h2 with Nh4 following as an interesting try at an attack. 22. Bc5 Nd4 We had both underestimated how unclear the position would be after 22… Nh4 23.Bxe7 Nxf3 24.Qxf3 Qxh2 25.Kf1 Bxb2 26.Rcd1. It can only be said that both sides will be playing the resulting position for a win. 23. Bxd4 Bxd4 24. Rf1 Bf6

1/2-1/2 We agreed to a draw with an equal position on the board. White does not have an advantage because Black’s knight manages to come back into the game through e5. 25.Rfe1 would be answered with 25…Bd4!.

Another short game with White. My moves appeared to lack energy. A lot of “slow” moves on my part. The last two rounds would be crucial ones. I was not very pleased to be sitting at -1.