World Open: Part I

The big American open tournaments are one of a kind. I haven’t played in the US since I became a Grandmaster, and for good reason. Tournaments like the World Open and the Chicago Open are about quantity, not quality. With the first prize in the Open Section at $25,000 and first class prizes at $18,000 each, the players come running. A lot of GMs come to chase the top prizes and the tournament becomes quite strong.

I knew what I was getting myself into before the tournament started. Two rounds a day, and a players’ responsibility to bring pieces and clocks. GMs get no appearance fees, but do not play an entry fee (which is actually deducted from prizes). The sections of the tournament total about 1500 players. An overpopulated event to say the least. Not a single person I spoke to, said the event was well organized.

Something that I did not expect is the inefficiency of the event. EVERY round started late! About 20min late on average. The pairings came up just minutes before the start of the rounds. There was no preparation for rounds. The time control is a bad one for two rounds a day, at 120min/40 moves +an hour for the rest of the game and a 5sec delay from move one. Instead of having the FIDE time control where long games last 4 hours, games here lasted almost 6 hours.

I had never played in the World Open, and the group of players at the top is quite strong. GMs Kamsky and Adams entered the field as top seeds (both over 2700). The 7, 5, 4 and 3-day schedules gave the players a variety of playing options to suit their liking.

One of the only good things about the tournament is the hotel, which was a Sheraton in Downtown Philadelphia. The venue was walking distance from the City Center and City Hall.

It was good to see a large Canadian representation with Liam Henry, Shiyam Thavandiran, Leonid Gerzhoy, Mike Yuan, Glen Barber (who did not player), Michael Kleinman, Victor Plotkin, Arthur Calugar, Daniel Wiebe, James Fu, and others who I may have forgotten!

On with the games!

Round 1

I was paired against FM Coleman, rated 2285, in the first round. The goal in the early rounds is just to get into some sort of a rhythm, and of course win games.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.06.30”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Coleman”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “D45”]
[PlyCount “47”]
[EventDate “2011.06.30”]
[SourceDate “2011.06.30”]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. g4 dxc4 8. g5
Nd5 9. Bxc4 e5 10. Bd2 O-O 11. Nxd5 cxd5 12. Bxd5 exd4 13. O-O-O Nc5 14. Nxd4
Qxg5 15. e4 Qh5 16. Rhg1 Be6 17. Bc3 Bf4+ 18. Kb1 Bh6 19. Nf5 Bxf5 20. exf5
Rfd8 21. Bxg7 Bxg7 22. Rxg7+ Kxg7 23. Qc3+ Kf8 24. Qxc5+ 1-0

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. g4 dxc4 8. g5 Nd5 9. Bxc4 e5 10. Bd2 O-O 11. Nxd5 cxd5 12. Bxd5 exd4 13. O-O-O Nc5 14. Nxd4 Qxg5 

The position is somewhat imbalanced. White has 4 pieces on the d-file. Both Kings might be attacked in the near future. It’s all about who gets there first and gains the initiative. 15. e4! This move fixes the Bishop on d5 and forces the Black Queen to decide where to go. It’s hard to find a good square. 15… Qh5 16. Rhg1 Preparing for a future attack. 16… Be6 Very natural move. 17. Bc3 The moment of truth. White has created some threats and Black needs to hold on.  17… Bf4+ 17… Bxd5? loses to 18.Rxg7+! followed by 19.Nf5, where Black is easily crushed. 17…g6! is stronger, but White still maintains the advantage. 18. Kb1 Bh6

19. Nf5 Even stronger was 19.b4! Bxd5 20.exd5 Nd7 21.Qf5!, winning for White. 19… Bxf5 20. exf5 Rfd8? Black missed the upcoming blow. 20…Rac8 would keep the struggle going, even though White is still much better.

21. Bxg7! Bxg7 22. Rxg7+ Kxg7 23. Qc3+ The Black King has no escape as White brings in his pieces for the final assault. 23… Kf8 24. Qxc5+ 1-0 Black resigned as 24… Kg7 25.Rg1+ Kf6 26.Qd4+ Kf5 27.f4! wins convincingly for White. White of course has many other ways to bring the point home.

Round 2

I was paired against the untitled Parker Zhao, rated 2382, in the second round.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.07.01”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Zhao”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “56”]
[EventDate “2011.06.30”]
[SourceDate “2011.07.01”]

1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Be3 Nf6 5. h3 c6 6. Nf3 O-O 7. Bd3 Nbd7 8. O-O
Qc7 9. Ne2 e5 10. dxe5 dxe5 11. c4 b6 12. b4 Rd8 13. Qc2 Nh5 14. Bg5 Re8 15.
Qd2 Nf8 16. g4 Nf6 17. Be3 h5 18. g5 N6h7 19. Kg2 Ne6 20. Rad1 Qe7 21. c5 bxc5
22. bxc5 Nxc5 23. Bxc5 Qxc5 24. Rc1 Qe7 25. Bc4 Rd8 26. Qe3 Nf8 27. Bb3 Rd6 28.
Nd2 Qd7 0-1

1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Be3 Nf6 5. h3 c6 6. Nf3 O-O 7. Bd3 Nbd7 8. O-O Qc7 9. Ne2 e5 10. dxe5 dxe5 11. c4 b6 12. b4 Rd8 13. Qc2 Nh5 14. Bg5 Re8 15. Qd2

White has not been playing the opening very ambitiously and is certainly not better. Black needs to aim to get control of the d4 square. White’s light squared Bishop is also a concern for concern for my opponent. There is also no clear plan for White. 15… Nf8 A standard maneuver, with the next destination being e6. 16. g4?! The move is an aggressive one but this expansion will only be a source of concern for White in the near future. 16… Nf6 17. Be3 h5 18. g5 N6h7 19. Kg2 Ne6 20. Rad1 Qe7 Black has a slight advantage but there is no need for White to panic. The problem for White is that his light squared Bishop do not have much potential on the board.

21. c5? White gives away a pawn to activate his Bishop through c4. 21… bxc5 22. bxc5 Nxc5 23. Bxc5 Qxc5 24. Rc1 Qe7 Black has an extra pawn and still does not have many problems in life. 25.Rxc6?? would be answered by 25…Bxh3+!, with Qd7+ to follow. 25. Bc4 Rd8 26. Qe3 Nf8 Time to activate the Knight before it falls asleep on h7. 27. Bb3 Rd6 28. Nd2??

White’s position was close to lost without this last move, but now the battle finishes early. 28… Qd7! 0-1 29… Rd3 is coming next, and White resigned.

So far so good. Two smooth wins to start the tournament. Things would get tougher from here, starting just hours later with the next round.

Round 3

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.07.01”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Hungaski”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “107”]
[EventDate “2011.06.30”]
[SourceDate “2011.07.02”]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. g4 h6 8. h3 b5
9. cxb5 c5 10. Rg1 Bb7 11. Bd2 Rc8 12. Bd3 cxd4 13. Nxd4 Ne5 14. O-O-O Nxd3+
15. Qxd3 Ne4 16. Be1 Bb4 17. Nde2 Qb6 18. Kb1 O-O 19. f3 Ng5 20. Rg3 e5 21. f4
d4 22. fxg5 dxc3 23. Nxc3 Rfd8 24. Qe2 Rxd1+ 25. Qxd1 hxg5 26. Ka1 a6 27. bxa6
Qxa6 28. Rg1 Ra8 29. Qb3 Bc5 30. Bd2 Bc6 31. Rc1 Rd8 32. Qc2 Bb4 33. e4 Ra8 34.
Qb3 Bxc3 35. Bxc3 Bd7 36. a3 Be6 37. Qb4 Rc8 38. Bd2 Rxc1+ 39. Bxc1 Qc6 40. Qc3
Qxe4 41. Bxg5 f6 42. Bd2 Qh1+ 43. Bc1 Qd5 44. Kb1 Qe4+ 45. Ka1 Qd5 46. Kb1 g5
47. Bd2 Qa2+ 48. Kc1 Bf7 49. b4 Bg6 50. Be1 Qb1+ 51. Kd2 Qa2+ 52. Kc1 Qb1+ 53.
Kd2 Qa2+ 54. Kc1 1/2-1/2

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. g4 h6 8. h3 b5 9. cxb5 c5 10. Rg1 Bb7 11. Bd2 Rc8 12. Bd3 cxd4 13. Nxd4 Ne5 

We once again had a sharp Meran, with the first 8 moves coming from Bluvshtein-Van Kampen, Groningen 2010. I greedily grabbed a pawn and tried to hold onto it. Black has enough compensation for the pawn here. 14. O-O-O Bringing the King to safety. 14… Nxd3+ 15. Qxd3 Ne4 16. Be1 Bb4 17. Nde2 White is unwilling to part with a solid pawn structure and keeps the King safer this way. 17… Qb6 18. Kb1 O-O 19. f3 Time to kick the Knight back. 19… Ng5 The Knight is awkwardly placed on g5, and I try to take advantage of that. 20. Rg3? The simple 20.Rf1! followed by 21.h4 would put Black under some pressure to demonstrate the initiative. It’s interesting to try to answer the question of why I made this mistake. The answer is a logical one. My intuition often lets me down, which is why I am often dependent on my analytical thinking and calculations while playing complicated positions. When the mind is tired, intuition becomes more important, as calculations slower and foggy, and often just a way to confirm intuition. This is exactly the case here, intuitively I wanted to play Rg3, and variations did not tell me otherwise. There are a lot of players out there with a very strong intuition, who would be simply unwilling to make this move. Thinking about the position in very general terms, the rook is much better placed on f1. This logic seems overly simplistic, but variations often confirm simple logic. For a similar example of a misplaced rook you can look at Motylev-Bluvshtein. 20… e5 21. f4 d4! The move that I had underestimated. Black blows the center apart and takes advantage of his two Bishops and the lack of White’s coordination.

I spent a long time in this position and began to realize that I need to focus on consolidating at this point. 22. fxg5?! 22.Na4! Qa5 23.Bxb4 Qxa4 24.b3 Qxb4 25.fxg5 would have led to a very complicated position which is close to equal. 22… dxc3 23. Nxc3 Rfd8 24. Qe2 Rxd1+ 25. Qxd1 hxg5 26. Ka1 a6 Black decides to stay without the pawn and have a very strong compensation for it. 26…Bxc3 27.Bxc3 Rd8, followed by 28…Qxb5 would have given Black a stable advantage which looks rather risk free, due to White’s weak King and awkwardly placed pieces. 27. bxa6 Qxa6 28. Rg1 Ra8 29. Qb3 Bc5 30. Bd2 Bc6 31. Rc1 The last several moves have witnessed White putting his pieces together in a bit of a (solid) bunker. 31… Rd8 32. Qc2 Bb4 33. e4! Opening up the Bishop and preparing Nd5 in a later point. 33… Ra8 34. Qb3 Bxc3 35. Bxc3? 35.Rxc3! would have been slightly better than the text, since after 35…Bxe4 36.Bxg5 White appears to be solid. 35… Bd7 36. a3 Be6 37. Qb4 Rc8? 37…f6 followed by Bf7 and the potential of Qe6 followed by mating threats on a2 would have been harder to stop.

Now came an interesting moment in the game. My opponent and I were each left with less than 30sec for the remaining three moves, and I suddenly noticed that there was no delay on the clock! We made the last few moves very quickly as we attempted to not lose on the clock. There is a reason why all top tournaments today have increment. 38. Bd2 Rxc1+ 39. Bxc1 Qc6 40. Qc3?! The question mark is for not playing Bxg5, the exclamation mark is for not losing on time. 40… Qxe4 41. Bxg5 f6 It’s time to reasess the position with new time on the clock. White is up a pawn. If those passed pawns get going then things will be great. However, Black can make sure they never go far. White’s King is in permanent danger and the opposite coloured Bishops help Black to sustain the pressure. 42. Bd2 Qh1+ 43. Bc1 Qd5 44. Kb1 Qe4+ 45. Ka1 Qd5 46. Kb1 g5!? A strong idea. If Black is to win the game then he needs to fix the White pawns on light squares. However, White is not in any big danger either. 47. Bd2 Qa2+ 48. Kc1 Bf7 49. b4 Now that the pawns started going it makes sense for Black to force the draw. 49… Bg6 50. Be1 Qb1+ Realistically speaking, Black does not have to give a perpetual, as White’s pawns are not going to have a chance to move forward again. The checks lead to a faster conclusion though. 51. Kd2 Qa2+ 52. Kc1 Qb1+ 53. Kd2 Qa2+ 54. Kc1 1/2-1/2

I was on the ropes for a part of this game after putting my rook on g3. Good resistance guaranteed the split of the point.

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One Response to World Open: Part I

  1. Pingback: The World Open | Annex Chess Club | Toronto

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