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.

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2 Responses to Rounds 8 and 9

  1. Doug says:

    In the round 8 game against Alsina, 7…d6 looks better than your Nbd4 to me for several reasons: it’s more active; it messes up his pawns, too; it probably gets the Queens off the board. I don’t know, I suppose Kramnik plays it the way you have.

    ? regards, Doug (no luck with organizing Reykjavik? don’t see you on the list)

    • 7…d6 is a line known to be dangerous for Black. It’s rather unexplored territory though.

      Decided I need a break break from playing. Too many tournaments in a row is not a good idea.

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