Houska-Yuan by WIM Yuanling Yuan

This was Yuanling’s 10th round game. Yuanling was the anchor of the Women’s team on top board. She played all 11 games and had a spectacular result. She went into this round on a hot 3 game winning streak.

IM Houska is a strong player rated over 2400. She would make a lot of National squads. She is a good player and she has been for a long time. #55 in the world for women.

A lot of players are scared to play against higher rated opponents. Not Yuanling. She seemed excited about the challenge. There appeared to be no fear before the game. Yuanling was beating up on higher rated players and was looking forward to the next one, without saying as much (yes I am just putting words into her mouth here, just describing it as I see it). At 16, the sky is the limit, and not just in chess.

Yuanling’s comments show her modest nature. She is an achiever and lets her play do the talking. The lack of exclamation marks shows how easy some positional moves come to her, even though she claims to be a tactical player. The game was a great one. After looking at the game, it’s hard to believe white is rated 250 points higher. The hard thing is to believe is that black is rated under 2200. This game was extremely smooth in all regards. The technique appears flawless and Yuanling makes it look easy after her opponent makes one mistake.

First, I will post the PGN format of the game without comments, followed by the game with comments and diagrams. I budded in with my own comments, indicated by my initials, because Yuanling was unwilling to give herself enough praise and exclamation marks.

[Event “39th World Chess Olympiad”]
[Site “0:12.37-0:51.03”]
[Date “2010.10.01”]
[Round “10”]
[White “Houska, Jovanka”]
[Black “Yuan, Yuanling”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “E62”]
[WhiteElo “2426”]
[BlackElo “2189”]
[PlyCount “96”]
[EventDate “2010.??.??”]
[WhiteTeam “England”]
[BlackTeam “Kanada”]
[WhiteTeamCountry “ENG”]
[BlackTeamCountry “CAN”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O Nc6 7. Nc3 Bf5 8. b3
Ne4 9. Nd5 Bd7 10. Bb2 e6 11. Nf4 f5 12. e3 g5 13. Nd3 Ne7 14. Nd2 Nxd2 15.
Qxd2 Bc6 16. f3 Ng6 17. e4 f4 18. d5 Bd7 19. Bxg7 Kxg7 20. dxe6 Bxe6 21. c5
dxc5 22. Rad1 b6 23. gxf4 gxf4 24. Kh1 Qf6 25. Qe2 Rad8 26. Nf2 Rxd1 27. Rxd1
Rd8 28. Rf1 c4 29. Rc1 Qd4 30. Bf1 Qd2 31. Rc2 Qxe2 32. Bxe2 cxb3 33. axb3 c5
34. Rb2 Ne5 35. Kg2 Kf6 36. Kf1 Rd4 37. Ke1 Rb4 38. Bd1 c4 39. Kd2 cxb3 40. Kc3
Rb5 41. Nd3 Nxd3 42. Kxd3 a5 43. Kc3 Rc5+ 44. Kd4 a4 45. Rb1 Rc4+ 46. Kd3 b5
47. Be2 Rc2 48. Bf1 Ke5 0-1

[Event “39th World Chess Olympiad”]
[Site “0:12.37-0:51.03”]
[Date “2010.10.01”]
[Round “10”]
[White “Houska, Jovanka”]
[Black “Yuan, Yuanling”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “E62”]
[WhiteElo “2426”]
[BlackElo “2189”]
[Annotator “Yuan,Yuanling”]
[PlyCount “96”]
[EventDate “2010.??.??”]
[WhiteTeam “England”]
[BlackTeam “Kanada”]
[WhiteTeamCountry “ENG”]
[BlackTeamCountry “CAN”]

{After a 2-2 against Montenegro, the Canadian women’s team was paired up
against England with black in round 10.Who else was I supposed to play other
than England’s top women player, Houska? She is rated 2426 FIDE, approximately
250 points higher than me. I’ve liked to play players that are rated much
higher than me, simply because I won’t have any pressure on my back and I
could, quoting Mark’s favorite expression, “just play chess”. At that time, I
had won 3 games in a row, in which 2 are against stronger opponents. I was at
the height of my confidence level feeling that I fear nobody, not even Houska.
So I prepared like I am used to and with 800 games in her database I was
surely at an advantage with preparation ( I have only 100 games of mine!). Let’s
take a look at one of the best games that I’ve ever played (at least Mark and
Thomas made me feel that way!):}

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2
O-O 6. O-O Nc6 7. Nc3 Bf5

{This was a line that I prepared against my opponent
from Latvia in the earlier rounds, but never got to use.}

8. b3 Ne4 9. Nd5 Bd7
10. Bb2 e6 11. Nf4

(11. Nc3 Nxc3 12. Bxc3 e5 13. b4 e4 14. Nd2 f5 {Houska
played a game like this a few years ago that she lost, so perhaps that’s why
she decided to play 11.Nf4 instead.})

11… f5 12. e3 g5 13. Nd3 Ne7 14. Nd2
Nxd2 15. Qxd2 Bc6

{I had prepared every move that she played up until now. She had to think for the past 5 moves while I was
playing at ease. At this point, I felt that I had a very comfortable position
that was solid with lots of potential for a kingside attack – totally my style!}

16. f3

(16. Bxc6 bxc6 {I was planning to respond to the Bishop exchange with
16…bxc6 to enhance my control over the centre. Then I would focus on my
kingside attack with Ng6…f4 or Qe8…Qh5.})

16… Ng6 17. e4 f4 18. d5 Bd7
19. Bxg7 Kxg7 20. dxe6 Bxe6

{I suppose all these exchanges were devoted to
opening up the centre to allow some play for White’s pieces. Being 250 points
higher than me, my opponent has the pressure of being expected to win the game,
and thus playing an extremely closed game with good chances of a draw is not
acceptable for her.}

21. c5?

{An implusive blunder…} (21. Rfd1 Qf6 22. Qf2
{This continuation for white would’ve been much better. {Black’s position is
still more comfortable, just look at the white bishop. <MB>})

21… dxc5 22.Rad1

(22. Qc3+ Qd4+ 23. Qxd4+ cxd4 24. Nc5 Bc8 25. Rfd1 b6 26. Na4 c5 {This is
the line that my opponent miscalculated when she played 21.c5.})

22… b6 23.gxf4 gxf4 24. Kh1 Qf6

{Notice here how most of my pawns are on dark squares
while white’s pawns are on light squares, blocking the g2-Bishop.} {The
importance of the positional 17…f4! <MB>}

25. Qe2 Rad8

{planning for Rd4… Rfd8}

26. Nf2

26…Rxd1 27. Rxd1 Rd8

{Yuanling does not comment on her desire to
exchange rooks. The idea might be a straight forward one, but it is the right
one in the position. These exchanges emhasize how bad the white bishop is and
make it easier for black to create a passed pawn. Positional intuition by
Yuanling <MB>}

28. Rf1

(28. Rxd8 Qxd8 29. Qa6 Qd4 30. Kg1 Nh4 31. Qxa7 Qa1+ 32.
Bf1 Nxf3+ 33. Kg2 Nh4+ 34. Kg1 Qe5 {White’s queen is in a very bad position
while all of my pieces are quite coordinated and ready to give the final blow.
Thus, Houska chose not to exchange the rooks.})

28… c4

{I thought for about 20 minutes before I made this move. Here black already has a huge advantage
but the question is, how to convert it into a win? A breakthrough such as c4
here was essential. {!, creating very concrete problems for white <MB>}

29. Rc1
(29. bxc4 Qc3 {White couldn’t protect the c4 anymore})

29… Qd4

{!, Yuanling does not give this move the recognition it deserves <MB>}

30. Bf1

(30. Rd1? Qxf2 31. Qxf2 Rxd1+ 32. Bf1 Bh3 33. Qb2+ Kh6 {a nice tactic I had in mind})

30… Qd2 31. Rc2 Qxe2 32. Bxe2 cxb3 33. axb3

(33. Rxc7+ {does not work} Kh6
34. axb3 Rd2 35. Bc4 Bxc4 36. Ng4+ Kg5 37. bxc4 h5 {{Crushing for black <MB>})

33… c5 34. Rb2

34…Ne5 35. Kg2 Kf6 36. Kf1 Rd4 37. Ke1 Rb4 38. Bd1 c4 39. Kd2
cxb3 40. Kc3 Rb5 41. Nd3 Nxd3 42. Kxd3 a5 43. Kc3 Rc5+ 44. Kd4 a4 45. Rb1 Rc4+
46. Kd3 b5 47. Be2 Rc2 48. Bf1 Ke5

{Next move Bc4 checkmate…and so white
resigned. The final 15 moves were made effortlessly. I had a clear queenside
majority plus excellent squares for my knight and bishop that restricted the
movement of white’s knight and bishop. No wonder Mark and Thomas said I made
it look so easy!} 0-1



Mark Bluvshtein

It’s always easier writing profiles on other players, but I will nonetheless write about my own previous experiences. 2010 will be my fifth Olympiad. If I didn’t have a veteran tag in previous Olympiads, I definitely have one this time around. Thomas has played in two Olympiads, Nikolay in one, and Artiom and Leonid will be playing in their first Olympiad. This means that I have more Olympic experience than the other players combined. I will try to share my experience with the rest of the guys as much as I can.

I played very well in my first three Olympiads, between 2002 and 2006. In 2002, I scored 8/11 on 5th board. In 2004, it was 8.5/12 on third board, and in 2006  7.5/11 on second board. However, in 2008 I felt like I just crashed and burned at the Olympiad, scoring 5/9 on top board. The score itself does not look so bad, but I feel like I played badly against rather weak opposition. This could be due to the pressure I put on myself playing on top board. No top board jitters in 2010 though.

Olympiads are generally the most fun tournaments on the chess calendar. All the best players from the best countries in the world get together to compete. This truly global event is one of a kind. It can be overwhelming the first time around. With such a young team on both the National and the Women’s side, the team chemistry should be quite good. This idea of good team chemistry can be just as important as 100 rating points at times, as we showed by going close to the top of the standings in 2002 and 2004. This was also shown in 2006 in us beating India. Some of the credit needs to go to Pascal for his incredible win over Anand though:). This is not to say that in 2008 we did not have good team chemistry. Fortunately, we were able to win the last few rounds to have a respectable finish. It also helps that we all enjoy representing Canada.

At Olympiads, I want to play every round. It’s just the way that I am. This is not to say that I am against getting “benched”, but I will not bench myself voluntarily. To be more honest, I will try to resist getting benched against strong teams, since that is the reason why I played chess- to compete against the best in the world. I believe that it is the Captain’s job to decide on who is playing and the players’ job to be ready to play every round. This is the reason as to why I led the team in games in 2002, 2004, and 2006 (I am not actually sure about 2008). I hope that every Canadian who will be playing on the Olympic team will provide the same attitude. This creates beneficial competition on the team for who will play more games.

The Olympiad should be a fun one. A lot of people have negative feelings about Khanty-Mansiysk, but those are people who have not been there. In recent years, a lot of world class events have been held there. The reviews that I get are positive ones except for the freezing weather. But in late September and early October, us Canadians should be able to handle it.

Dalia Kagramanov

Photo: copyright 2010 by Dalia Kagramanov.

Dalia has been a part of the rising female Juniors for quite some time now and she is turning 17 later this year. Dalia will be playing 5th board on the team. Having coached Dalia in recent times, I know her quite well. She is a tactical player who is quite inconsistent (in the both good and the bad). Much like Liza, Dalia has won almost every female youth tournament imaginable in Canada. This will be her first real test on the world stage, aside from WYCCs which to put it truthfully, just do not compare. The comfort of her older sister will probably make the situation easier for Dalia to adapt to. The idea of having siblings on the team represents something I have never seen in Canada before. Is this the first time ever? (comments would be appreciated) In Canadian chess, the two sisters have often been mixed up with each other, with Dalia being called Dina in recent times. With some hard work over the next few years, Dalia can surely reach one of the higher boards on the team.

  • 2010 Selected Canada’s Olympiad Women’s Team
  • 2009 Canadian Girls Under-16 Champion
  • 2008 Canadian Girls Under-16 Champion
  • 2006 Ontario Girls Under-14 Champion
  • 2005 1st place, Ontario Girls Grade 6 Championship
  • 2005 1st place, Ontario Girls Under-12 Championship
  • 2003 Ontario Girls Grade 4 Champion

Copyright David Cohen 2000-10.


Nikolay Noritsyn

Photo: copyright 2008 by Nikolay Noritsyn.

Nikolay is turning 19 this year, and is the youngest player on the National team.. He will be playing on fifth board for the team, just like he did in 2008 where he had a solid effort. I feel that a lot of Nikolay’s potential has not been fulfilled due to his lack of exposure to the international arena. Much like Artiom, Nikolay plays a lot. But all of these tournaments are local. I have not seen Nikolay leave our borders since the last Olympiad. The Olympiad will be another step in the right direction in terms of experience. Fun fact: Nikolay is the only player on the team who has ever won a Canadian Closed. He shows to be cool under pressure time after time. Nikolay and Artiom will have to be our “collectors” on the bottom boards. The good that has come out of all of the local events that they play is that they know how to consistently beat weaker players with both colours. It in not always an easy art to beat a 2200 or 2300 with the black pieces. Those games can at times be decisive in team matches. Nikolay seemed a bit nervous in 2008, it being his first Olympiad. Everybody is nervous their first time around. I drew a 2000 level player in my my first game at my debut Olympiad. This time around promises a more veteran like Nikolay, who is now one of the three players on the team with previous Olympic experience. Below are some of Nikolay’s achievements.

  • 2010 Selected Canada’s Olympiad National Team
  • 2008 Represented Canada at Olympiad
  • 2008 Toronto Closed Champion with perfect score (9/9)
  • 2007 Canadian Chess Player of the Year
  • 2007 International Master
  • 2007 Canadian Champion at age 16, second youngest ever
  • 2006 Toronto Grand Prix Champion
  • 2006 Toronto Open Champion
  • 2005 Toronto Grand Prix Champion
  • 2003 Canadian Under 12 Champion
  • 2003 Ontario Under 12 Champion
  • 2003 Ontario Grade 6 Champion
  • 2002 Ontario Under 12 Champion
  • 2002 Ontario Grade 5 Champion

Copyright David Cohen 2000-10.


Yelizaveta (Liza) Orlova

Photo: Hart House, Toronto, 2008. Copyright 2008 by the photographer David Cohen.

Liza is the player on this year’s squad that I know the least about. She is turning 16 this year and is on the rise. Her current CFC rating is at an all-time high of 2040, making her slightly higher rated than Iulia. From what I do know about Liza, she is a very competitive fighter who does not give up. A good trait for team events, where teammates can gain a boost off each other. This tournament should be a good test for Liza on the world stage. Liza seems to have played (and won) every Canadian girl youth event imaginable. People do not realize the environment that is present at an Olympiad, and they can’t, until they play in one. This will be a good test for the youngster. Khanty-Mansiysk will be Liza’s first Olympiad, but she has played on the world stage before at some WYCC. She will be playing on board four. I am sure Liza will take on the challenge heads on!

  • 2010 Selected Canada’s Olympiad Women’s Team
  • 2008 9th place, World Youth Under-14 Girls Championship
  • 2008 Canadian Girls Under-14 Champion
  • 2008 Ontario Girls Under-16 Champion
  • 2008 Canadian Junior Girl Champion
  • 2007 Canadian Girls Under-14 Champion
  • 2006 Ontario Girls Grade 6 Champion
  • 2006 Ontario Girls Under-12 Champion
  • 2005 Canadian Girls Under-12 Champion
  • 2005 Ontario Girls Under-12 Champion
  • 2004 Ontario Girls Under-10 Champion

Copyright David Cohen 2000-10.


Artiom Samsonkin

Photo: copyright 2008 by the photographer David Cohen.

In 2007, a Belarusian invaded Canada and decided to take over the chess tournaments that take place in the GTA. His name is Artiom Samsonkin. Artiom has a disturbingly large difference between his CFC and FIDE ratings. Artiom’s CFC rating is currently 2600, while his FIDE rating is under 2400. The difference between the ratings can be partially explained by his lack of exposure to international competitions, and the large inflation that has occurred to CFC ratings lately. To compensate for the lack of international events, Artiom plays A LOT of local tournaments. In 2009, I counted 18 (!) tournaments that he played in. International experience will be highly beneficial for him. This is exactly what will he will get at the Olympiad, a chance to show himself on the world stage. This will be his first Olympiad. Artiom is a tactical player who can play with anybody in sharp positions. This was shown in his crushing victory against Hikaru Nakamura, one of the world’s best players. The game can be seen at http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1543809

Artiom’s style suits the 4th board more than the higher ones due to his very aggressive style. His style can pay off in close matches which are decided on the bottom boards. He will be counted on to collect a lot of points. Below are some of his accomplishments:

  • 2010 Selected Canada’s Olympiad National Team
  • 2008 Canadian Junior Champion
  • 2007 1st place, Canadian Championship
  • 2007 International Master
  • 2007 Arrived Canada from Belarus
  • 2004 Belarus Under 16 Champion
  • 2001 1st place, Under 2200 (Section B), Tenkes Kupa, Hungary

Copyright David Cohen 2000-10.


Leonid Gerzhoy

Photo: Copyright 2008 by the photographer David Cohen.

I met Leonid at the age of 7, in 1995. We each have a highly competitive nature, and our battles were always fierce. I competed with Leonid every second year in the Israeli Youth Championship, since he is a year older than me. We dominated our age groups. We both lived in Haifa, which made our battles more frequent as we went to the same chess club. We were enemies at the board, but friends away from it. We played at the World Youth Chess Championship together as well. We even had the same coach, Mark Ruderfer, for some time. In 1999 I moved to Canada. In 2005, Leonid followed suit. There is no question that living in Israel, a nation where chess is very popular, was advantageous to his (and my) career. The constant presence of strong GMs such as Gelfand, Sutovsky, Smirin and many others makes all tournaments more interesting. Leonid is more of a positional player, but does not lack tactical vision either. He has been playing a lot more recently and is the most active player on the team in international events. Recent times have shown improvement  in results in Sarajevo and Moscow. Leonid can be solid and does not feel uncomfortable playing against GMs. Leonid is turning 23 this year and he is the oldest player on the national team! This will be his first Olympiad.

  • 2010 Selected Canada’s Olympiad National Team
  • 2009 Represented Canada at Pan-American Championship
  • 2009 Grandmaster Norm, World Open, Philadelphia, USA
  • 2008 2nd place, Jessie Gilbert Celebration International, Coulsdon, England
  • 2007 Canadian Junior Champion
  • 2006 2nd place Canadian Championship
  • 2005 Arrived Canada
  • 2002 International Master

Copyright David Cohen 2000-10.