What Happened This Weekend

As previously advertised, there was a segment of about me on Global News on Friday night. It has received a lot of positive feedback. The audience for the show is supposed to be well over a million viewers! If you missed it, you can watch it here. Enjoy!

I was a Guest of Honour at the Second Annual Chess in the Library Festival, which took place yesterday afternoon. It was a very enjoyable event all around, with the highlight being a four round Swiss event. The organization is run by student volunteers and is expanding rapidly thanks to the commitment of the people involved. Everything about the festival was well done and the turnout was well over 100 people. I would recommend to check out CITL’s site, as well as Yuanling’s Blog. Yuanling is the Founder and President of the program. There should be material about the festival coming on those sites soon.

Chess in the Library is the most positive chess program I have seen in Canada. Everything that CITL does is free to the players, just as yesterday’s tournament was. They are popularizing chess and are also making it enjoyable. Please check out their Sponsors Page and think about donating and making a difference. All of their volunteers are passionate about the game of chess and they let their actions do the talking. I encourage you to check out their program in one of their many locations.

Advertisements

Some News

I will be going to Philadelphia in the end of the month to play in the World Open. I have never played in the tournament, which is supposed to be the biggest annual open tournament in the world. A lot of strong players appear to try to cash in on the $25,000 first prize. I will then play in the Canadian Open, which will take place at The Westin Harbour Castle in downtown Toronto. I haven’t played in Canada in 2 years and I haven’t played in Toronto in much longer than that. It will be nice to play in front of the home crowd.

In other news, there will be a segment about me this Friday on Global News, Channel 3 in Ontario, between 6 and 7pm. The segment is a part of a series called Generation Inspiration. More about that after the show airs.

This Saturday, I will be attending the Chess in the Library 2nd Annual Festival. Chess in the Library (CITL) is one of the most positive organizations ever seen in Canada and it promotes chess programs in libraries across Canada. CITL keeps expanding due to the great work of its members.

Trip to Israel

A few days after coming home from Cuba I left for Israel, to play in the Israeli League and have a session with GM Alex Huzman. The way that it worked out, I got to Israel before Alex did. Alex was on Team Gelfand for his Candidates Matches in Kazan, where Gelfand won three tough matches to earn the right to challenge Anand for the World Championship Title in 2012. Boris (Gelfand) played the best chess in Kazan, and showed to have the best nerves. I would recommend to watch his won games against Mamedyarov and Grischuk. His win on the Black side of the Najdorf was an incredibly eventful game, where White resigned while being completely dominated yet being up a rook! Congratulations to the whole Gelfand Team for a remarkable result.

Back to me now. I played a total of 4 games for Hapoel Kfar Saba. The team included GM Rozentalis, who often visits Canada. The only problem was that the two of us could not play together because only one foreign player was allowed in each team per match.

The League was different from anything else I have played this year, with games played on Friday and Saturday mornings at 10am. Each match is played at a different venue, which means that a commute before the game is very standard. I flew into Israel on May 26th, and was already playing games on the 27th and 28th in the early morning. I scored a total of 3 out of 4 in the games, winning against FM Pasman and GM Manor, while drawing games against GMs Khmelniker and Abergel.

The league is mainly an amateur one, with two professional teams. The Beer Sheva and Ashdod clubs acquired all of the professional players in Israel and compete for the title each year. This year, it was Beer Sheva’s year, as they won first place. Their lineup includes GMs Roiz, Rodshtein, Huzman, Postny, Nabaty, and Greenfeld. I was able to help Kfar Saba clinch third place.

The League was a nostalgic experience for me. I saw a lot of people that I have not seen in many years, like my former trainer, FM Mark Ruderfer, or people that I grew up with, like IM Kaplan and GM Rodshtein, who I competed with when I was still living in Israel. My team also included a lot of guys who I looked up to as I was growing up, like GM Gershon, and IMs Kundin and Gaby Livshits. I have always enjoyed my trips to Israel. I wouldn’t call it home, but I wouldn’t call it a foreign country either, having lived there for 6 years. I also got a rare opportunity to practice my Hebrew while I was over there.

The World Open is next for me. That starts in 10 days. Some exciting news are to come before that…

Capablanca Memorial Impressions

I registered to the Capablanca Memorial because I knew it would be a good event. Playing in 2004 was an enjoyable and challenging experience. There is a reason why Ivanchuk keeps coming back. The organizers did a good job throughout the event. There were clearly some limitations since the tournament was organized in Cuba. Limitations such as online transmission, since internet is hard to come by. The event took place right by the waterfront.

The Premier Group was an interesting one to play in, with an average rating just under 2560. According to my count, White only won 5 games in the group, while Black won 19! That is quite a statistic. I finished the tournament tied for first place with 6/9. It’s a good result. I didn’t feel like I played particularly well, but so did a lot of the other participants in the event. I got the most out of the positions I had. Below is the standings from the tournament website.

Nombre
Elo
FED
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
0
Puntos
1
GM
Cordova Emilio
2561
PER
*
½
½
½
½
1
1
½
½
1
6
25,25
2
GM
Bluvshtein Mark
2589
CAN
½
*
1
½
0
½
1
½
1
1
6
25,00
3
GM
Alvarez Pedraza Aramis
2538
CUB
½
0
*
1
1
½
1
½
½
½
23,50
4
GM
Quesada Perez Yuniesky
2626
CUB
½
½
0
*
½
1
1
1
½
0
5
21,75
5
GM
Vocaturo Daniele
2540
ITA
½
1
0
½
*
½
0
1
0
1
20,25
6
GM
Corrales Jimenez Fidel
2586
CUB
0
½
½
0
½
*
½
½
1
1
17,75
7
GM
Leon Hoyos Manuel
2563
MEX
0
0
0
0
1
½
*
1
1
½
4
14,75
8
IM
Ortiz Suarez Isan Reynaldo
2569
CUB
½
½
½
0
0
½
0
*
1
½
15,50
9
GM
Almeida Quintana Omar
2555
CUB
½
0
½
½
1
0
0
0
*
½
3
14,25
10
FM
Espinosa Veloz Ermes
2467
CUB
0
0
½
1
0
0
½
½
½
*
3
13,00

Time for some photos.

Hotel lobby

Riviera Hotel, where the players stayed and the tournament took place

Crossing the street the players arrived at the Ocean

Room #1, will explain later

View from the room

Walking around Havana

Che Guevara, a local hero

Plaza de la Revolucion

Images: Che Guevara left and Castro right

Le Quang with the media before the Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony: the names of all the nations present

I drew number 7.

After the Opening Ceremony

From left to right: Vocaturo, Corrales, Leon Hoyos

The playing hall

The night before the first rest day I went for dinner and came back to discover many termites in my room. I will keep those photos off my blog. They were coming from the closet towards the light. I killed many of them. The room was infested. I decided to just turn off all the lights and go to sleep. Early the next morning I went to the lobby to tell them the situation and get my room changed. Here we go for room number 2.

Apartment building in Havana. You can see clothes hanging out of windows

While I was getting out of room number 1, I was “gently demanding” they put me in a suite. I did not come to Havana to kill termites and change rooms on my rest day.

Room #3: The Suite

View from the bedroom

The living room

The swimming pool of the hotel which I used a few times during my stay

The balcony, with a view of the ocean

The playing hall, with flags of all the participating nations

Le Quang-Navara

The lobby, with transmission of the Elite games

The two computers with internet at the hotel. “Only” $8 an hour. No wifi.

The Closing Ceremony

Receiving my trophy

From left to right: Sary from Ecuador, myself, and Claudia from Guatemala

The restaurant. The participants had three meals a day provided here

Overall the tournament was very well organized.  The adventures with the room switching were the fault of the hotel, which I would certainly not recommend to any Canadians.  The organizers took care of everything they could. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies were well presented with performances in both, as well as appearances by government officials. The tournament was in large a vacation for most of the participants in the Premier Group and the Open Tournaments. The Elite Group was a pleasure to watch with interesting and entertaining players.

Rounds 5-9

Round 5

I was paired against GM Vocaturo in this round. You might remember my crucial round 5 loss to the same opponent in Wijk aan Zee just months earlier. These things are not supposed to affect us chess players. But they might. Anyways, I went into this round with confidence against my opponent, who was generally struggling in the tournament.

 

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.05.15”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Vocaturo”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “78”]
[EventDate “2011.05.11”]
[SourceDate “2011.05.14”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 O-O 5. e4 d5 6. e5 Nfd7 7. f4 c5 8. cxd5
exd5 9. a3 Ba5 10. Nf3 cxd4 11. Qxd4 Nc6 12. Qd1 d4 13. Nxd4 Ndxe5 14. Nxc6
Qxd1+ 15. Kxd1 Nxc6 16. Be3 Re8 17. Bf2 Bf5 18. Bb5 Red8+ 19. Ke1 Nd4 20. Bxd4
Rxd4 21. Rf1 Re4+ 22. Be2 Rc8 23. Kd2 Rd8+ 24. Ke1 Re4 25. Kd2 Re6 26. Rfd1 Bc7
27. Nd5 Rce8 28. Bf3 Rd6 29. Re1 Red8 30. Kc3 Be6 31. Nxc7 Rc8 32. Rac1 Rxc7+
33. Kb4 Rd4+ 34. Ka5 b6+ 35. Ka6 Bc8+ 36. Bb7 Ra4+ 37. Kb5 Bd7+ 38. Bc6 Rxc6
39. Rxc6 Ra5+ 0-1

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 O-O 5. e4 d5 6. e5 Nfd7 7. f4 c5 8. cxd5 exd5 9. a3 Ba5 10. Nf3 cxd4 

I went into a deep think. To put it gently, I am in trouble. I had mixed up something with my preparation. The idea here is that 11.Nxd4 Nxe5 12.fxe5 Qh4+ 13.Ke2 Bb6 leads to a strong attack and an advantage for Black. I had something similar in a fortunate win against Romanov back in 2005. 11. Qxd4 An attempt to minimize my loses. 11… Nc6 12. Qd1 12.Qxd5 is answered by 12… Ndxe5! 13.Qxd8 Nxf3+ with a horrible position for White. 12… d4 13. Nxd4 Ndxe5! 14. Nxc6 Qxd1+ 15. Kxd1 Nxc6 I went into a long think once again. Material is equal. We can look at that as a positive. Not much else is good. My King is stuck in the center. I need to connect my rooks and try to run to a safe place with my King. 16. Be3 Re8 17. Bf2 Bf5 18. Bb5 Red8+ 19. Ke1 Nd4 20. Bxd4 Rxd4 21. Rf1 I’m relatively solid after this move. My rook might get into the game with Rf3 later. However, my position is still lost if Black plays accurately. The importance of piece coordination is the decisive factor.  21… Re4+ 22. Be2 Rc8 23. Kd2 Rd8+ 24. Ke1 Re4 25. Kd2

25… Re6? Black releases some of the pressure. We had both underestimated 25…Rd4+! 26.Ke3 Bb6 27.Kf3 Rd2 which is close to winning for Black. 26. Rfd1 Bc7 27. Nd5 An attempt to create my own play. 27… Rce8 28. Bf3 Rd6 29. Re1 Red8 30. Kc3 Be6

The worst is behind me, unless I play the text. 31. Nxc7? Another lapse. I had missed how forced the text would be. 31.Rad1! Rc6+ 32.Kb4 Bd6+ 33.Ka4 is better for Black, no doubt. But the advantage is probably not decisive at this point. Surprisingly, White still seems to be holding on. As long as the Knight stays on d5, consequences are not going to be deadly.  31… Rc8 32. Rac1? Losing by force. Black also has a big advantage after 32.Kc2 Rxc7+ 33.Kb1 but it was still worth playing. 32… Rxc7+ The rest is forced and decisive. 33. Kb4 Rd4+ 34. Ka5 b6+ 35. Ka6 Bc8+ 36. Bb7 Ra4+ 37. Kb5 Bd7+ 38. Bc6 Rxc6 39. Rxc6 Ra5+ 0-1

No doubt a very disappointing game. It was painful to lose to the same opponent again. Fortunately, a rest day followed. If any positives can be drawn from this game it’s that I fought back to a playable position from one that seemed close to lost. I will not mention the negatives.

Round 6

I was to play GM Leon Hoyos in this round. Manuel is well known for being Ivanchuk’s second for some years now as well as being the top player in Mexico.

 

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.05.17”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Leon Hoyos”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “70”]
[EventDate “2011.05.11”]
[SourceDate “2011.05.16”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 d5 7. Bg5 dxc4 8.
Qxc4 b6 9. Rd1 Ba6 10. Qa4 Qd7 11. Qc2 Qc6 12. Qxc6 Nxc6 13. Bxf6 gxf6 14. Nf3
Na5 15. b4 Nb7 16. Rc1 Rfc8 17. a4 Nd6 18. e3 Bb7 19. a5 bxa5 20. bxa5 c5 21.
Rxc5 Ne4 22. Rc4 Rxc4 23. Bxc4 Rc8 24. Be2 Rc1+ 25. Bd1 Bd5 26. Nh4 Rxd1+ 27.
Kxd1 Nxf2+ 28. Ke2 Nxh1 29. Kf1 Kf8 30. Kg1 Ke7 31. Kxh1 Kd6 32. Kg1 Kc6 33.
Nf3 Bxf3 34. gxf3 Kb5 35. Kf2 Kxa5 0-1

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 d5 7. Bg5 dxc4 8.
Qxc4 b6 9. Rd1 Ba6 10. Qa4 Qd7 11. Qc2 Qc6 12. Qxc6 Nxc6 13. Bxf6 gxf6 14. Nf3

This is still a theoretical position from Wang Hao-Kramnik and Dreev-Movsesian. 14… Na5!? A novelty. A good thing about novelties is the element of surprise. 15. b4? The most forcing, but a mistake. 15.e3 seems to be more appropriate without expanding on the Queen side. 15… Nb7! The move my opponent had missed. The Knight is going to d6 where it is ideally placed. 15…Nc4 16.e3 gives White an advantage. 16. Rc1 Rfc8 17. a4 Nd6 18. e3

18… Bb7! An important move in an attempt to fight for the advantage. White needs to consolidate. Black threatens a5 and a strong initiative on the side with all his pieces.  19. a5! Stopping Black from playing a5. 19… bxa5 20. bxa5 c5 It’s important to open up the position before White is able to develop his King side. 21. Rxc5?? 21.dxc5 Ne4 still forces White to try to neutralize Black’s activity, which he should be able to do with accurate play. The text is already the losing move.

21… Ne4! The move that my opponent missed. Black takes control of the c-file and invades White’s position with all his pieces. 22. Rc4 22.Rxc8 Rxc8 23.Be2 Rc1+ transposes to the text. 22… Rxc4 23. Bxc4 Rc8 24. Be2 Rc1+ 25. Bd1 Bd5! We are not in a rush. White is up a pawn but he is completely dominated. 26.0-0 loses a piece to 26…Nc3. 26.Nd2 loses to 26…Nc3. 26. Nh4 Desperation. 26… Rxd1+ Transposes into a winning endgame. Other moves also win. 27. Kxd1 Nxf2+ 28. Ke2 Nxh1 29. Kf1 White is forced to go after the trapped extra piece. 29… Kf8 30. Kg1 Ke7 31. Kxh1 Kd6 Material is even once again. However, black grabs the a-pawn and White’s Knight is trapped on h4. Black is completely winning. 32. Kg1 Kc6 33. Nf3 Bxf3 34. gxf3 Kb5 35. Kf2 Kxa5 0-1

A pleasant win. I can’t say that I did anything impressive. It’s always nice to play novelties having analyzed them before. Recovered from the round 5 loss nicely.

Round 7

I was paired against the top seed, GM Quesada, in this round. We tied for first at the Continental Championships in Mexico just weeks earlier.

 

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.05.18”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Quesada”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “11”]
[EventDate “2011.05.11”]
[SourceDate “2011.05.18”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 b6 5. Qb3 c5 6. Bg5 1/2-1/2

We agreed to a draw. Nothing to be proud of. As a chess professional, you sometimes have to do what should work out better in the long run. The fact that I have been having trouble with White was also a factor. I was glad to have the day off after playing 6 games all-out.

Round 8

I was to play the bottom seed, the only player who is not a GM in the Premier Group in this round. FM Espinosa, rated 2467, started the tournament very well but appeared to be wearing down against higher rated competition.

 

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.05.18”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Espinosa”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “94”]
[EventDate “2011.05.11”]
[SourceDate “2011.05.18”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5
8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 Bd7 10. b3 Kc8 11. Bb2 Be7 12. Rad1 Nh4 13. Nd4 c5 14. Nd5
Bd8 15. Ne2 a5 16. a4 Ra6 17. c4 Re8 18. Ng3 Nf5 19. Ne4 Rc6 20. f4 b6 21. Rd3
Rg6 22. Rfd1 Be6 23. R1d2 h5 24. Kf1 h4 25. Kg1 Rh8 26. Kf1 Nh6 27. Kg1 Bf5 28.
Re3 Re6 29. Re1 f6 30. Rde2 Rhe8 31. Nf2 Bh7 32. Kf1 c6 33. Nc3 fxe5 34. fxe5
Nf5 35. Nce4 Rf8 36. Rd2 Be7 37. Kg1 Nd4 38. Bxd4 cxd4 39. Rxd4 Rxe5 40. Red1
c5 41. R4d2 h3 42. Nd6+ Bxd6 43. Rxd6 Bc2 44. Rc1 Re2 45. Rf1 hxg2 46. Kxg2 Kc7
47. Rd5 Be4+ 0-1

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 My opponent offered a draw, which I declined. 9… Bd7 10. b3 Kc8 11. Bb2 Be7 12. Rad1 Nh4 A novelty according to my database. 13. Nd4 c5 14. Nd5 Bd8 15. Ne2 a5 16. a4 

We arrived at a typical Berlin position. Black has the doubled c-pawns but also has the two Bishops. I could undouble my pawns by playing 16…c4, but then my King becomes vulnerable on the half-open c-file. 16… Ra6 The most logical move. Black activates his rook and thinks about switching it to the other side. 17. c4 Re8 18. Ng3 Nf5 19. Ne4 Rc6 20. f4 b6 21. Rd3 Rg6 22. Rfd1 Be6 Black is rock solid. So is White. White is unable to find a useful plan. 23. R1d2 h5 24. Kf1 h4 25. Kg1

My opponent spent a lot of time on the clock before he started moving his King back and forth. Black needs to rearrange his pieces in a constructive way in an attempt to breakthrough of the King-side. Both sides need to keep the f6 break in mind. 25… Rh8 26. Kf1 Nh6 27. Kg1 Bf5 The Bishop is optimally placed on the h7-b1 diagonal for now. 28. Re3 Re6 29. Re1 f6 Forcing White to consolidate on the e-file now. 30. Rde2 Rhe8 31. Nf2 Bh7!? Preparing Nf5. 32. Kf1 c6 33. Nc3 fxe5 34. fxe5 Nf5 35. Nce4 Rf8 36. Rd2 Be7 37. Kg1 Nd4 38. Bxd4 cxd4 39. Rxd4 Rxe5 Black is clearly better due to the two Bishops. White is tied up  40. Red1

The 40th move is crucial in many games. There is a shift in mentality as one changes gears and 30min are to be added to the clock. 40… c5? 40…Bb4! 41.h3 Kb8 wins quickly. White simply runs out of moves and his pieces are stuck unable to move in the middle of the board. I had missed my opponent’s reply. 41. R4d2! I went into a deep think. Black is still better but a lot of work needs to be done. I get right back to creating problems for my opponent. 41… h3!? 41…Bxe4? 42.Re1 allows White to regain the piece and then most likely hold on to the draw. 42. Nd6+?? White needs to try to hold on after 42.Re1. White cracked under the pressure. 42… Bxd6 43. Rxd6 Bc2 44. Rc1 Re2! Black’s pieces dominate the board. 45.Nxh3 loses to 45…Be4! 45. Rf1 hxg2 46. Kxg2 Kc7! Simple and to the point. This move reminds me of Navara-Bluvshtein, where I missed my opponent’s 41st move and my opponent’s King trapped my rook in similar fashion. 47. Rd5 Be4+ 0-1

A smooth positional win with the Berlin. This finished my games with Black for the tournament, with a score of 4.5/5! I was going into the last round tied for first place.

Round 9

I was paired against GM Corrales in the last round of the tournament.

 

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.05.21”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Corrales”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “13”]
[EventDate “2011.05.11”]
[SourceDate “2011.05.20”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. d4 exd4 6. Qxd4 Qxd4 7. Nxd4
1/2-1/2

Once again, nothing to be proud of. There were many quick draws throughout the event. Fighting spirit was often missing from the Premier Group. I feel like I needed the break. I knew that I would be playing in Israel only 6 days later. That’s where I am right now… More on that at a later date.

I finished tied for first place with GM Cordova, 2nd on tiebreak. I still can’t find the final standings for the Premier Group. Has anybody been able to find it?

Generally, the level of play in the Premier Group seemed quite low. A lot of blunders from many of the players. Many low quality moves. I scored well in the tournament mainly because of persistence and a very strong fighting spirit. I didn’t shed any points and I milked every half point I could from the positions I had. My games with White were a problem.

To come are some photo impressions from the tournament.