Arrival and Rounds 1-3

I have never been to Mexico before this trip. I had some concerns about the tournament because there were some problems with my correspondence with the organizers due to our language differences. I got some replies to e-mails in Spanish, sometimes not answering my questions.

I was arriving in Mexico City the day before the event and I needed to get to Toluca. I gave the organizers my flight information, but they never confirmed that they would actually pick me up from the airport… Due to this, I ordered a shuttle bus service from Mexico City to my hotel in Toluca.

Upon arriving in Mexico City, I was pleasantly surprised. Simon Knight greeted me as well as some of the other GMs at the airport and took us to Toluca. It was about a 90 minute drive. We arrived at Hotel Del Rey Inn, a five star facility.

The Tournament

For me this was a special event in many different ways. It was my first Continental Championships. It was my only chance to qualify for the upcoming World Cup. It would also be my first tournament where I wore sponsor clothing, with logos of all my sponsors. My sponsors have been nothing but great to me throughout my journey. The sponsor clothing provided me with a boost for this event.

The tournament would be an intense one with nine rounds in six days. My last double round tournament was in Nuremberg and I learned some important lessons which I was hoping to use this time around.

I went swimming the morning of the first round. Perfect way to get into some sort of conditioning for the tournament. Also a way to clear the mind before the start of the event.

Then came the registration. It has been a long time since I stood in a long line to register for a tournament. This was a long line. Everybody stood there for about an hour after filling out some forms to pay the entry fee. Can’t say that the GMs were happy about this. GM Lenderman and I were in the line from about noon to 1pm.

Round 1

An important thing for most chess players is to get into a “rhythm” with a pre-game routine. Lateness of rounds makes this very hard. The clocks started at around 6pm, instead of the planned 5. This is often the case at big open tournaments.

I played a lot of the games in this tournament without any preparation. You don’t really have a choice when the pairings go up last minute. I played Martinez Ocampo Fernando, rated just above 2100, but without a FIDE rating. The game is below.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.04.19”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Martinez”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “59”]
[EventDate “2011.04.19”]
[SourceDate “2011.04.19”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. h3 O-O 6. Bg5 Nbd7 7. Be2 e5 8. d5 a5
9. g4 Nc5 10. Qc2 Bd7 11. Nf3 Qe8 12. O-O-O a4 13. Nd2 Na6 14. a3 Nc5 15. Rdg1
c6 16. Be3 cxd5 17. exd5 Qc8 18. Kb1 Qc7 19. h4 Rfc8 20. h5 b5 21. hxg6 fxg6
22. g5 Ne8 23. Nxb5 Qb7 24. Bg4 Bxb5 25. cxb5 Rc7 26. Ne4 Nb3 27. Be6+ Kh8 28.
Rxh7+ Kxh7 29. Nf6+ Nxf6 30. Rh1+ 1-0

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. h3 O-O 6. Bg5 Nbd7 7. Be2 e5 8. d5 a5 9. g4 Nc5 10. Qc2 Bd7 11. Nf3 Qe8 12. O-O-O a4 13. Nd2 Na6

I was happy with my position at this point. I have more space in the center and the potential for an attack on the king-side. 14. a3 An important move to make in order to stop Black from sticking his pawn on a3 and his knight on b4. Even at the cost of giving up some control of the b3 square, it’s a must. 14… Nc5 15. Rdg1 Quite primitive, preparing the march of the h-pawn. 15… c6 Black has no other forms of counter-play. 16. Be3 cxd5 17. exd5 This move makes life uneasy for Black. It keeps to c-file closed and introduces the idea of placing a knight on e4 at a later point. 17.Bxc5 dxc5 18.exd5 was also an attractive option but I was unprepared to part ways with this Bishop.

In the position above, it’s difficult to suggest a clear plan for Black. My opponent chooses to make some natural moves. 17… Qc8 18. Kb1 Qc7 19. h4 Rfc8 20. h5 White is clearly better and Black chooses to take extreme measures. 20… b5 An attempt to fight fire with fire. A passive approach would not fare much better. 21. hxg6 fxg6 22. g5 Ne8 23. Nxb5! White dominates the position. 23… Qb7 24. Bg4 Bxb5 25. cxb5 Rc7 26. Ne4 26.Bxc5 Rxc5 27.Be6+ Kf8 28.Qe4 Rb5 29.Nc4 Rb8 30.b4 Rxb4+ 31.axb4 Qxb4+ 32.Kc2 is winning for White but did not look very appealing to me at the time. My attempt was to kill any counter play. 26… Nb3? This move loses on the spot. 26…Nxe4 27.Qxe4 Qxb5 would force me to find 28.Rxh7 Rb8 29.b4, which is also winning for White. Black can never take the rook on h7 because of the mate that follows after White plays Be6 and forces the Black King into a mating net. 27. Be6+ Kh8

Time for the final punches. 28. Rxh7+! It felt like this move should work, especially if I can get the queen to join in on the attack. Of course, the mate was calculated at this point. 28… Kxh7 29. Nf6+ Nxf6 Another pretty line is 29…Bxf6 30.gxf6!, where Black cannot escape mate. 30. Rh1+ 1-0 My opponent resigned as he cannot stop mate. 30…Nh5 is answered with 31.Rxh5+. The Black king is helpless against White’s forces.

This round was about getting the win. That’s what a lot of first rounds are often about. A pretty finish is always a bonus.

Round 2

Another evening round. There was a new wave of players who entered the tournament, both in the top section and in other sections that had their first round on this day. More than 1000 players were to play in the main playing hall, and about 1300 in all the tournaments combined. The round started an hour late once again. Everybody was hoping this trend would stop. A few photos from before the start of the round.

Argentinian GMs Ruben Felgaer and Pablo Lafuente, 30min after the round was expected to start (30min before it actually started)

I joined them, in my sponsor clothing

At the board

I was to play against Jamaican IM Jomo Pitterson, rated 2263. On with the game.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.04.20”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Pitterson”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “88”]
[EventDate “2011.04.19”]
[SourceDate “2011.04.20”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. Bg2 Bg7 8. Nf3
O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. Bf4 Na6 11. h3 Nc7 12. a4 b6 13. Re1 Nh5 14. Bg5 f6 15. Bc1
f5 16. Bg5 Qd7 17. Qd2 Nf6 18. Bf4 Bb7 19. Ng5 Nh5 20. Ne6 Nxe6 21. dxe6 Rxe6
22. Nd5 Nf6 23. Nxf6+ Bxf6 24. Bxb7 Qxb7 25. Rad1 Rd8 26. Bg5 Bxg5 27. Qxg5 Qe7
28. Qxe7 Rxe7 29. Rd5 Kf7 30. e3 Re4 31. b3 Rb4 32. Rd3 Ke6 33. Kg2 d5 34. Kf3
Rd7 35. g4 c4 36. gxf5+ gxf5 37. bxc4 dxc4 38. Ra3 Rd2 39. Kg3 Rbb2 40. f3 Ra2
41. Rc3 Rxa4 42. e4 Rd3 43. exf5+ Kxf5 44. Rc2 Raa3 0-1

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. Bg2 Bg7 8. Nf3
O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. Bf4 Na6 11. h3 Nc7 12. a4 b6 13. Re1

I decided to play the Benoni in this game. We got a pretty typical position out of the opening. 13… Nh5!? A novelty according to my database. Black intends to kick the White bishop away from f4 and then play f5 to gain control of the e4 square. 14. Bg5 f6 15. Bc1 f5 16. Bg5 Qd7 17. Qd2 Nf6 18. Bf4 Bb7 So far Black has only been making logical moves. 19. Ng5 Nh5! Back to h5 with the Knight. It is generally advantageous for Black to get rid of White’s dark squared Bishop to allow his own bishop to gain dominance. The Bishop on g7 can become very strong on the long diagonal.

20. Ne6? White did not have any great options. I was expecting 20.e4!?, which introduces a sense of unclear chaos into the position. 20.Be3? loses a pawn to 20…Nxg3 21.fxg3 Rxe3! where 22.Qxe3 runs into 22…Bd4. The text gives away a pawn for some temporary initiative. 20… Nxe6 21. dxe6 Rxe6 22. Nd5 Nf6! The Knight has been dancing around f6 and h5 for quite some time now. It’s important for Black to not allow White to dominate the d5 square with his pieces. Now Black is up a healthy pawn. 23. Nxf6+ Bxf6 24. Bxb7 Qxb7 25. Rad1 Rd8 26. Bg5 Bxg5 27. Qxg5 Qe7 28. Qxe7 Rxe7 29. Rd5 Kf7 30. e3 Re4 31. b3 Rb4 32. Rd3 Ke6 33. Kg2 d5 34. Kf3 Rd7 35. g4

We are now in a double rook endgame. Black has a strong center and an active rook on b4. The extra pawn helps too. It’s time for a break. 35… c4! This move activates my pieces for good and leaves White with little saving chances. 36. gxf5+ gxf5 37. bxc4 dxc4 38. Ra3 Rd2! An important move that forces White to start playing passively. 39. Kg3 Rbb2 40. f3 Ra2 41. Rc3 Rxa4 42. e4 Rd3 43. exf5+ Kxf5 44. Rc2 Raa3 0-1 White has had enough. Down two pawns and forced into a passive stance.

This game felt good. A lot of good moves in the middle game came quite easily to me. A smooth victory.

Round 3

This was to be the first morning round and the first round to start on time. I was to play FM Yasser Quesada Perez from Cuba.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.04.21”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Quesada Perez”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “69”]
[EventDate “2011.04.19”]
[SourceDate “2011.04.21”]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3 g6 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. Be2 O-O 7. O-O Bg4 8. Qb3
Qb6 9. Qxb6 axb6 10. cxd5 cxd5 11. h3 Bxf3 12. Bxf3 e6 13. Bd2 Nc6 14. Nb5 Rfd8
15. Rfc1 Bf8 16. Be2 Ne4 17. Be1 Nd6 18. a3 Nxb5 19. Bxb5 Na7 20. Bd3 Rdc8 21.
g4 Rxc1 22. Rxc1 Rc8 23. Rxc8 Nxc8 24. f3 Nd6 25. a4 Be7 26. e4 Kf8 27. Kf1 Ke8
28. Ke2 f5 29. e5 Nc8 30. a5 bxa5 31. Bxa5 b6 32. Ba6 bxa5 33. Bxc8 Kf7 34.
gxf5 gxf5 35. Kd3 1/2-1/2
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3 g6 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. Be2 O-O 7. O-O Bg4 8. Qb3 Qb6 9. Qxb6 axb6 10. cxd5 cxd5 11. h3 Bxf3 12. Bxf3 e6

I decided to go for this position because I felt like it would be risk free for me and I wouldn’t have to expend too much energy on this morning round. A practical choice considering the situation. 13. Bd2 Nc6 14. Nb5 Trying to gain control of the c-file. 14… Rfd8 15. Rfc1 Bf8 16. Be2 Ne4 17. Be1 Nd6 18. a3 Nxb5 19. Bxb5 Na7 20. Bd3 Rdc8 Black plans to exchange the rooks and then claim that White can’t find a breakthrough.

21. g4 I decided to expand on the king-side while Black takes time to trade off the rooks. 21… Rxc1 22. Rxc1 Rc8 23. Rxc8 Nxc8 24. f3 Preparing e4. 24… Nd6 25. a4 Be7 26. e4?! This move appears to be rushed. I should have maneuvered my pieces around a bit more before making this commitment. Figuring out what Black would do if I would continue with b3 and placing my king on e2 would have been more logical.  Kf8 27. Kf1 Ke8 28. Ke2 f5! I spent a lot of time on this position. I can win a pawn with 29.gxf5 gxf5 30.exd5 exd5 31.Bg3 Kd7 32.Bxd6 Kxd6 33. Bxf5 h6, but Black will have no problems drawing the arising opposite coloured-bishop endgame. 29. e5?! Not creating any new problems for Black and just kills the position. 29… Nc8

This was decision time for me. Moves like f4 and b4 crossed my mind in an attempt to try to keep playing for a win, which is quite unlikely because Black is very solid and my Bishops do not promise a way to break in. With this being the morning round, I decided to force a draw at once and get ready for the next game. 30. a5 bxa5 31. Bxa5 b6 32. Ba6 bxa5 33. Bxc8 Kf7 34. gxf5 gxf5 35. Kd3 1/2-1/2 We agreed to a draw.

Not an impressive game at all, but I got a rare opportunity to sleep well between rounds and get some needed rest. I knew that I would need to play more ambitiously with the White pieces for the rest of the tournament. A lot of the top seeds were losing points in this round.

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One Response to Arrival and Rounds 1-3

  1. Doug Sly says:

    I think you need more goop in the do and perhaps lengthen the burns and wear tighter whites, particularly if you’re intending to take a run a Carlsen.

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