Sundararajan-Henry: GM Scalp

Good games should be appreciated! My good friend Liam Henry played against GM Sundararajan, rated 2491, in the fourth round of the World Open. Liam annotates the game below in-depth, while also presenting a lot of his thoughts during the game. Congratulations to Liam for the great game and thanks for analyzing it for my blog.

Liam introduces a novelty on move 17 and later finishes the game in style! Liam takes it from here.

[Event “World Open”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.??.??”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Kidambi, Sundararajan”]
[Black “Henry, Liam”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “E92”]
[PlyCount “80”]
[EventDate “2011.??.??”]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. d4 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. Be3 Ng4 8. Bg5
f6 9. Bh4 g5 10. Bg3 Nh6 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Qd5+ Kh8 13. O-O-O Qe7 14. h4 g4 15.
Ne1 Nc6 16. Nc2 f5 17. exf5 Nxf5 18. Bd3 Nxg3 19. fxg3 Be6 20. Qe4 Bf5 21. Qe3
e4 22. Be2 Qe6 23. Rhf1 Bh6 24. Rf4 Bxf4 25. gxf4 Rad8 26. Nd5 Rd7 27. Qc3+ Kg8
28. Nce3 Ne7 29. Nxf5 Qxf5 30. Nf6+ Rxf6 31. Rxd7 Qxf4+ 32. Kb1 Nc6 33. c5 e3
34. Rxc7 Nd4 35. Qc4+ Kf8 36. Rc8+ Ke7 37. Bd3 e2 38. Bxe2 Qe4+ 39. Qd3 Rf1+
40. Bxf1 Qe1+ 0-1

{In round 4 of the tournament I had to play GM Kidambi Sundararajan who I knew
is a solid GM. I had a bit more confidence than usual for this game, because
my good friend IM Raja Panjwani had beaten Kidambi at last years World Open in
beautiful style! The pairings went up about 15 mins before the round so I
didn’t have much time to prepare. I knew I was going for the Kings Indian as I
will explain later, so I quickly checked which line he plays against it and it
was mainly the Gligoric variation. Kidambi switches between 11.dxe5 as he
played in the game and 11.d5 so I had to prepare for both. It took be about 30
min to prepare both of the lines, so I ended up coming 15-20mins late
for the game.} 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 {I kind of predicted he would start this way,
since he must have seen that I mainly play the Gruenfeld Defense nowadays.} g6 3.
Nc3 Bg7 {I had only decided at the last minute to play the Kings Indian
Defense for this tournament which is the first Defense I ever learned against
1.d4, 1.Nf3 and 1.c4. I had given it up around the year 2007 due to getting
horrible positions out of the opening and just not really understanding the
middlegame positions properly. To be honest I had never planned on touching
the opening again with a 10 foot pole. The reason I did decide to play it
though was mainly because of my students. A lot of them asked me to prepare
lines for them in the Kings Indian Defense, and this led me to have a fresh
look at my games in this defense again, and also to look at my old preparation.
I had to look at a lot of recent games in the KID to prepare my students, and
I came across some of Hikaru Nakamura’s games which are just amazing in this
opening! Combine that with the fact that Raja is always showing me his
beautiful games in it as well, it really inspired me to pick it up again, and
give it the fair chance it deserves.} 4. e4 d6 5. d4 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. Be3 Ng4
8. Bg5 f6 9. Bh4 g5 10. Bg3 Nh6 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Qd5+ Kh8 13. O-O-O Qe7 {All
of this has been played before in the game Motylev-Radjabov, Wijk aan Zee 2007}
14. h4 {This is the move which Kidambi introduced in 2004 in his game against
Rahul Shetty in the Indian Championships I was not very familiar with the idea,
so I decided to have a look at it with Houdini in my preparations, as I
thought that there is no reason why he wouldn’t repeat it since he won the game
} g4 15. Ne1 Nc6 16. Nc2 f5 17. exf5 {Still following Kidambi’s game from the
Indian Championships in 2004. I was aware of the game in my preparations, and
I had prepared an improvement on move 17…}

17… Nxf5 {logical improvement. Black
just wants to bring another piece to control the d4 square and at the same
time can entertain the idea of playing …Nxg3 at some point damaging the
opponent pawn structure. This move also takes some pressure off my …e5 pawn}
(17… Nd4 18. Nxd4 exd4 19. Rxd4 Bxd4 20. Qxd4+ Kg8 21. c5 Rxf5 22. Bc4+ Nf7
23. Nd5 Qd8 24. Re1 c6 25. Ne7+ {1-0 Sundararajan,K-Shetty,R/Visakhapatnam IND
2004 (25).}) 18. Bd3 Nxg3 19. fxg3 Be6 20. Qe4 {after this move I was on my
own, I had only looked at Qb5 in my preparations and not this more logical
move.} Bf5 21. Qe3 (21. Qe1 {was the right move keeping the Queen out of any
tactics with …Bh6 and not allowing my nextmove}) 21… e4! {Played after
about 15 mins thought. I knew there had to be a reason why the computer
suggested Qb5 on move 20 for White and not this move, so that led me to look
for a resource like this in the position, and I found it! e4 is really the key
to the position, since if White can succesfully blockade on that square, he
should be better since my g7 bishop is just miserable. Now Black takes over
the initiative} 22. Be2 {I remember Kidambi instantly made this move. I dont
know if he just trusted that I calculated something, or if he himself saw that
he can’t take. In this position I had a long think. I felt my dark squared
bishop is good, but my light squared bishop is actually miserable, biting on
my e4 pawn. So I was thinking, if I could get my pawn to e3, not only would
both of my bishops be amazing, but also my pawn on e3 will be a real threat in
the position.} (22. Bxe4 {doesn’t work because of} Qf6 23. Kb1 Rae8 {and e4
can’t be defended another time, due to the knight on c3 being pinned, because
of the mate threat on b2} 24. Rhf1 Bxe4 25. Rxf6 Bxc2+ 26. Kxc2 Rxe3 {leaves
Black up a piece}) (22. Nxe4 Rae8 23. Rhe1 Ne5 24. Bf1 Bxe4 25. Qxe4 Qf6 {when
the threat of …Nd3+ or …Nxc4 is too much} 26. Nd4 (26. Kb1 Nc6 {winning
material}) (26. Qd4 Nd3+ 27. Bxd3 (27. Qxd3 Qxb2+ 28. Kd2 Bh6+ {is no better})
27… Qh6+ {winning the Queen}) 26… c5 {winning material}) 22… Qe6 ({after
} 22… Qf6 23. Kb1 Bh6 {I could not calculate the consequences of} 24. Nd5 {
and I felt that this would at least be giving my opponent some play. I thought
it wasn’t necessary, when I can play …Qe6 and not allow him that Houdini
still likes Black after} Bxe3 25. Nxf6 Bf2 26. Nxg4 e3 {but good luck finding
this concept over the board}) 23. Rhf1 {Kidambi was very proud of this
exchange sacrafice after the game, but I am very doubtful of its correctness.
Sure White will have some compensation, but I dont believe its enough for an
exchange. I remember getting very excited during the game that I would be up
an exchange against a GM with Black!} ({I felt} 23. Nd5 {would be useless now
because I have} Qe5 {but he should still go for this. I did not see the
resource} 24. Qa3 {during the game} Bh6+ 25. Nf4 {when its almost a crime to
take the pawn with …Bxf4 and give up my pride an joy of the position}) 23…
Bh6 24. Rf4 Bxf4 {played too quickly, there was no need to take it right away
since there is a big traffic jam on the h6-c1 diagonal. I let me emotions get
the better of me} ({the simple} 24… Rad8 {was better.}) 25. gxf4 Rad8 26. Nd5
Rd7? {Simply a mistake.} ({after} 26… Ne7 27. Nxc7 Rxd1+ 28. Kxd1 Qd7+ 29.
Nd5 {I forgot that my knight was on e7, and I evaluated this position in my
head as winning for White. Im not sure what cause the hallucination, maybe I
couldn’t believe I was beating a GM so easily so figured that consolidating
the position must be hard.}) ({I also considered} 26… h5 {but rejected it
again because of miscalculation} 27. Nxc7 Rxd1+ 28. Kxd1 {I thought White had
more than enough compensation, missing the simple} Qe7 {winning the h4 pawn.})
27. Qc3+ Kg8 28. Nce3 {Here I realized I was in trouble, and started thinking
that I was not even better anymore. I had a long think about how to
consolidate my position}

28… Ne7 ({there is} 28… h5 29. c5 Kh7 30. Bc4 {which is
a variation I saw during the game, but I stopped my calculation here saying
this is too risky, since it allows him to activate his light squared bishop,
but if I calculated further, I would have seen he has no threat} Kg6 {since}
31. Nxc7 Rxd1+ 32. Kxd1 (32. Nxd1 {allows the familiar trick} Qe7) 32… Qd7+
33. Ncd5 Qg7 {consolidates everything}) 29. Nxf5 Qxf5 30. Nf6+ Rxf6 31. Rxd7
Qxf4+ {This is the variation I saw when playing 28…Ne7, and I figured that I
will give him back the exchange, but I will still be up a pawn so I still
should be slightly better. I did not sense that my opponent’s compensation
actually gives him full equality.} 32. Kb1 Nc6 33. c5 {Kidambi was very low on
time in this position, 5mins and under if I remember correctly, and I had
about 15min.} e3 {a very scary move to meet in time trouble, since he has to
watch out for Back rank mate tricks, as well as his rook on d7 hanging by …
Qf5+, added with the passed pawn on e3.} 34. Rxc7 {Kidambi blunders under
pressure, but the move does look very logical because after 34…Qxc7 there is
35.Qxf6, but he missed my next move} (34. a3 {making sure his king is nice in
safe in time trouble was the best}) 34… Nd4 {After playing this move I was
pretty sure I was going to win. I didn’t see any defence for my opponent to my
onslaught of threats} 35. Qc4+ (35. Bc4+ Kf8 36. Rc8+ Ke7 37. Bd3 (37. a3 e2
38. Ka2 {was the best try according to Houdini, but not easy to find with
2mins on your clock}) 37… Qf1+ 38. Bxf1 Rxf1+ 39. Qc1 e2 {winning}) 35… Kf8
36. Rc8+ (36. Rxh7 Qe4+ 37. Ka1 (37. Bd3 Rf1+ 38. Qc1 Qxd3+ {mating}) 37…
Nc2+ 38. Kb1 Na3+ {winning}) 36… Ke7 37. Bd3 e2 38. Bxe2 {I almost didn’t
see my next move, and was going to play 38… Qf5+, but luckily I had some
extra time on my clock, so I took a couple of deep breaths, and then I found}

Qe4+ 39. Qd3 Rf1+ 40. Bxf1 Qe1+ {Kidambi took the loss really well, and he
analyzed the game with me afterwards for quite some time. I already had a lot
of respect for him, and consider him a strong GM, but that gesture gained him
even more respect in my books. I had to hold in my excitement until I got to
my room, where the first person I emailed the game to was Andrew McMillan, who
is well known in Toronto as the KID specialist. He has one of the largest
collections on the KID. My last count a couple of years ago was 20, but it
could be well over 30 by now. He has taught me a lot about the opening,
whether it be him telling me key games in the opening, lending me his books,
playing blitz, analyzing famous KID games with me, so I felt it necessary to
dedicate this win to him! This game really taught me a lot about keeping a
cool head during the game, and not letting your opponent’s rating affect your
decisions during the game. I made a lot of bad decisions because I let me
emotions dictate my moves. It’s amazing what your mind will believe if you let
it. This was my second GM scalp, and I hope there will be many more in the
future!} 0-1

Advertisements

World Open: Final Thoughts

# Name Rtng St Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Rd 8 Rd 9 Tot Prize
1 GM Gata Kamsky 2741 NY W37 W22 W11 L3 W18 D2 W13 W10 D4 7.0 $14575.00
2 GM Michael Adams 2726 ENG W36 W14 W13 W10 D3 D1 W9 D5 D6 7.0 $14267.00
3 GM Loek Van Wely 2683 NED W53 W32 W8 W1 D2 W4 L5 L6 W11 6.5 $1735.00
4 GM Ilya Smirin 2676 ISR W54 D23 W64 W31 D7 L3 W41 W20 D1 6.5 $1735.00
5 GM P Harikrishna 2666 IND W34 W39 D30 D9 D8 W21 W3 D2 D7 6.5 $1735.00
6 GM Timur Gareyev 2613 UZB W55 D51 D16 W23 D30 D20 W32 W3 D2 6.5 $1735.00
7 GM Ray Robson 2545 FL D57 W45 W40 W21 D4 D10 D11 W12 D5 6.5 $1735.00
8 GM Mesgen Amanov 2517 TKM W60 W52 L3 W25 D5 W40 L10 W23 W17 6.5 $1735.00
9 GM Vitali Golod 2592 ISR W44 L30 W34 D5 W33 W22 L2 W21 D13 6.0 $424.50
10 GM Jaan Ehlvest 2583 NY W38 W43 W41 L2 W31 D7 W8 L1 D16 6.0 $424.50
11 GM Giorgi Kacheishvili 2582 GEO W26 W25 L1 W66 D20 W30 D7 W14 L3 6.0 $424.50
12 GM Victor Mikhalevski 2577 ISR D65 W68 W42 D30 W51 D41 D14 L7 W32 6.0 $424.50
13 GM Aleksander Lenderman 2548 NY W58 W87 L2 W50 W32 D14 L1 W41 D9 6.0 $424.50
14 GM Mikheil Kekelidze 2452 GEO W61 L2 W67 W52 W29 D13 D12 L11 W31 6.0 $771.00
15 IM Yury Lapshun 2442 NY L69 D47 D80 W57 W67 W52 D17 D18 W28 6.0 $771.00
16 IM Puchen Wang 2437 NZL D62 W59 D6 D64 D65 W35 D18 W39 D10 6.0 $771.00

You can find the full standings here. The two top seeds finished the event tied for first, with Kamsky winning the playoff.

I finished the tournament with 5/9, and the tournament turned out to be a setback for me. It was the worst result I’ve had during my year of professional chess. I just wasn’t playing like myself.

Why do we have bad tournaments? Chess is a very unforgiving game. One lapse can cost a game, a bad day can cost a tournament. This is exactly what happened to me. I had a very bad last day, scoring only 0.5/2 against opposition rated more than 150 points lower than me. Fatigue was certainly one of the issues.

So I had a very bad tournament. Chess is a very emotional job, where results often drive your level of happiness. If you are not emotional about your results, you can’t possibly push yourself to the limit. I would not have become a GM if I would have taken my bad results easily. A part of being a chess player is knowing how to deal with a good result, as well as a bad one. A bad result is just a setback, just like many other setbacks in life. You pick yourself up and get ready for the next challenge.

Confidence is very important. Too much confidence is bad, too little confidence might even be worse. Everybody has bad tournaments and it should not jeopardize one’s self-image. For me, this is simple. So I had a bad tournament. I have no doubt that I can play well. I did not magically forget how to play chess, I just had a streak of games where I forgot to prove it. There will be better days.

Playing chess is my current job. Everybody has good and bad days at work. I heard some words of wisdom back in August about being a professional chess player from GM Vinay Bhat, back in Barcelona. I’ll paraphrase, I am sure Vinay put it more delicately that time over dinner. “All jobs have good and bad days. Chess has a very big variance in days. Those days can be very good and they can be very bad.” This was nothing new to me. Check out Vinay’s Blog.

What’s done is done. Everybody makes mistakes. We learn from them. The above is meant for everybody who has ever had a bad tournament, which is everybody who has ever played in tournaments! Time for the lighter side of my trip to Philly.

A big congratulations to Michael Yuan, who tied for second place in the under 2200 section and won just over $2500! You can find the standings here.

Liam, Shiyam and me had a few hours after check-out to see the Philadelphia sights. Below are some tourist impressions from that day and some of the previous day. The first three photos are from Liam.

Shiyam (left) and me before we race up the Rocky Steps

Post-race. Outcome should be clear;)

The main playing hall before the start of the round

Mural art on a hospital building

Philly Chinatown

Downtown

More mural art, just outside of City Hall

Benjamin Franklin

Liam, Shiyam and me

Liam running up the steps

At the top…

It felt very hot…

But not for long

World Open: Part III

Round 8

I was paired against IM Bercys, rated 2467 in this round. I approached this round as a must win. The last day is always the decisive one, and this day would decide even more, with two games to be played.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.07.04”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bercys”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “119”]
[EventDate “2011.06.30”]
[SourceDate “2011.07.04”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. Nd2 Bg7 8. Nc4
O-O 9. Bf4 Ne8 10. Qd2 b6 11. a4 Ba6 12. Nb5 Bxb5 13. axb5 Nd7 14. e3 Ne5 15.
Bxe5 Bxe5 16. Be2 Bg7 17. O-O Nc7 18. Na3 Re8 19. Ra2 Re4 20. Bc4 h5 21. Qd3
Re5 22. Nb1 Ne8 23. Nd2 Nf6 24. Rfa1 Re7 25. h3 Qe8 26. Qb3 g5 27. Be2 g4 28.
hxg4 hxg4 29. g3 Qd7 30. Ra4 Qf5 31. Qd1 Qxd5 32. Nc4 Qxd1+ 33. Rxd1 d5 34.
Nxb6 Rd8 35. Nc4 Rdd7 36. Na5 c4 37. b3 c3 38. Rc1 Ne4 39. Nc6 Re8 40. Bxg4 Rb7
41. Be2 Nd6 42. Rg4 Kf8 43. Rxg7 Kxg7 44. Rxc3 Nxb5 45. Rc5 a6 46. Na5 Rb6 47.
Rxd5 Nc3 48. Rd2 Nxe2+ 49. Rxe2 Rb5 50. Ra2 Rc8 51. Ra4 Rc2 52. g4 Rcc5 53. b4
Rc2 54. Nb3 Rb2 55. Nd4 Rb6 56. Kg2 R2xb4 57. Ra5 Kg6 58. Kg3 f6 59. Kf4 Rd6
60. f3 1/2-1/2

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. Nd2 Bg7 8. Nc4 O-O 9. Bf4 Ne8 10. Qd2 b6 11. a4 Ba6 12. Nb5 Bxb5 13. axb5 Nd7!

The position is still a theoretical one. Black’s last move sacrifices the d6 pawn. White should not take the pawn as after 14.Nxd6 Nxd6 15. Bxd6 Re8 White will have serious trouble both developing his pieces and keeping the extra pawn, as even one of the above would be an achievement. 14. e3 Ne5 15. Bxe5 Bxe5 16. Be2 Bg7 17. O-O Nc7 18. Na3 Interestingly enough, this position has been played. 18… Re8?! 18…Qd7 is more accurate, as Black attempts to play 19…a5 20.bxa5 b5 and create some good play. As it turns out, the a7 pawn is much weaker than the b5 pawn. 19. Ra2 Re4 20. Bc4 h5 Preparing to launch a future attack on the White King. 21. Qd3 Re5? The rook is seriously misplaced on this square. 21…Qe8 would have been stronger. 22. Nb1! Due to Black’s last move, White manages to improve the position of the Knight and follow that up with more pressure on the a7 pawn. 22… Ne8 23. Nd2 Nf6 24. Rfa1 Re7 Black is still solid with only one weakness. 25. h3 Qe8 26. Qb3

Neither side has a clear plan and I thought that I would complicate the matter. 26… g5?! Interesting but relatively careless. This permanently weakens Black’s King. 27. Be2! Preparing to lift the rook over to the King-side through a4 in the near future. 27… g4 28. hxg4 hxg4 29. g3 Qd7 30. Ra4 Qf5 I was going for something like this. 31. Qd1 Qxd5 32. Nc4 White forces the exchange of Queens. 32…  Qxd1+ 33. Rxd1 d5 34. Nxb6 Rd8 35. Nc4 The only move, but an optically pleasing one. The Knight is now headed to a5-c6. 35… Rdd7 36. Na5 c4 37. b3 c3? 37…Ne4 would have been better, but I had trouble parting with the g4 pawn. 38. Rc1 Ne4 39. Nc6 Re8 40. Bxg4 Rb7 41. Be2 Nd6 White is up a pawn but converting it into a full point is not easy because of the weak b5 pawn and the strong c3 pawn. 42.Nxa7 is answered with 42…d4, where Black generates good play. White starts to play carelessly. 42. Rg4 Kf8 43. Rxg7? The whole idea is a faulty one as we will see in a few moves. 43… Kxg7 44. Rxc3

44… Nxb5 45. Rc5 My opponent went for this position, with the idea that once White captures the d5 pawn and places his Knight on d4 he will have a Knight and two pawns for the rook and will then play a risk free position. 45… a6! The move my opponent missed. White cannot regroup his forces fast enough. 45.Rxd5 Nc3 is good for Black. 46. Na5 Rb6 47. Rxd5 Nc3 48. Rd2 Nxe2+ 49. Rxe2 The position has changed significantly. It is only Black who can play for a win now, due to the awkwardness of the Knight on a5. 49… Rb5 50. Ra2 Rc8 Preparing to activate all my forces. 51. Ra4 Rc2 52. g4 Rcc5 52…Rb6, with the idea of Rf6 would have been a better winning try. 53. b4 Rc2 53…Rc3 would have tied up the White forces even further. 54. Nb3 Rb2 55. Nd4 Rb6 56. Kg2 R2xb4 57. Ra5 I had originally gone for this position. Upon getting here, it became clear that the White pieces are better placed, the Knight is a monster on d4 and the a-pawn is not going anywhere. The position is probably still equal since White has trouble making progress, but it is important to not do anything foolish. 57… Kg6 58. Kg3 f6 59. Kf4 Rd6 60. f3 1/2-1/2

We agreed to a logical draw. This game lasted over 5 hours and the next round would start in about 2 hours. A good fight, but I did not use my opportunities after coming out on top after the middle game.

Round 9

I was paired against IM Lapshun, rated 2442 for this round. I was out of contention for any of the top spots at this point.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.07.04”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Lapshun”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “56”]
[EventDate “2011.06.30”]
[SourceDate “2011.07.04”]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. e3 Nf6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. a3 cxd4 7. exd4 Be7 8. c5
O-O 9. b4 Ne4 10. Qd3 e5 11. Nxe5 a5 12. Bb2 Bf5 13. Nxc6 bxc6 14. Nxe4 Bxe4
15. Qc3 axb4 16. axb4 Rxa1+ 17. Bxa1 Bh4 18. Rg1 Re8 19. g3 Qf6 20. Qe3 Kf8 21.
gxh4 Bf3 22. Rg3 Rxe3+ 23. fxe3 Qxh4 24. Kf2 Be4 25. h3 f5 26. Bg2 g5 27. Bxe4
f4 28. exf4 gxf4 0-1

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. e3 Nf6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. a3 cxd4 7. exd4 Be7 8. c5 O-O 9. b4 Ne4 10. Qd3 e5!?

Black sacrifices a pawn in the hope of taking advantage of the White King still being in the center of the board. 11. Nxe5 a5 11…Bf5 is also very interesting. 12. Bb2? Necessary was 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Nxe4 dxe4 14.Qc3, after which White develops easily. The text does not show a sense of urgency and is too slow. 12… Bf5 13. Nxc6? 13.Nxe4 Bxe4 14.Qc3 would have been much stronger, even though White is still not in a great situation.  13… bxc6 Now White is just in trouble. 14. Nxe4 Bxe4 15. Qc3 15.This was the right time to be desperate and play 15.Qh3, followed by Bd3. 15… axb4 16. axb4 Rxa1+ 17. Bxa1 Bh4!

White’s pieces are tied up and completely dominated. 18. Rg1 Re8 19. g3 One of the last remaining tricks for White, forcing Black to find an accurate win.

19… Qf6! After this move, the game is simply over. 20.gxh4 Bg2+ 21.Be2 Bf3 is lost on the spot. The rest is easy for Black. 20. Qe3 Kf8 21.gxh4 Bf3 22. Rg3 Rxe3+ 23. fxe3 Qxh4 24. Kf2 Be4 25. h3 f5 26. Bg2 g5 27. Bxe4 f4 28. exf4 gxf4 0-1

This was a horrible game on my part. I felt like I wasn’t seeing anything during the game and calculations were as flawed as they have been in a while. One way of explaining this is my 5+ hour game in the morning as well as 5+ hour game the night before. Tough pill to swallow either way. This was a very bad day at the office.

Next to come is a World Open Summary. After that I will do a full report on the 2011 Canadian Open. I have also been receiving a lot of questions about my plan after the World Cup. More chess or no chess? The answer will come soon…

World Open: Part II

Round 4

I was paired with the Black pieces against GM Yudasin, rated 2522. We had played 12 moves of theory and then I offered a draw. It was clear that if we would be having a fighting game it would be a long battle. GM draw you say. We can call it that. But chess is about strategy. It’s not just about strategy in one game, but it is about strategy throughout the tournament. This was a morning game, and I felt like the short draw would give an energy boost for the evening game. At least that was the plan.

I found what happened around the board quite interesting. Everybody in the world of chess knows that Leonid Yudasin is one of the nicest people to meet. He is also an Orthodox Jew. Because of this, I did not know what to expect (if anything) from playing Leonid on a Saturday morning (Sabbath). As I arrived to the game, Leonid said that he cannot record the moves and use a digital clock during Sabbath games. Seems fair. So Leonid provided a manual clock for the game and also subtracted ten minutes from his clock for not writing the moves (as is apparently customary).

Round 5

I was paired against GM Zapata, rated 2472 for this round. I felt relatively well rested after the morning round. My play didn’t seem to agree…

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.07.02”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Zapata”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “108”]
[EventDate “2011.06.30”]
[SourceDate “2011.07.03”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. h3 Nbd7 7. Bg5 e5 8. d5 a5
9. Be2 Nc5 10. Nd2 Bd7 11. Rc1 c6 12. O-O a4 13. Qc2 Qb6 14. Kh1 Rfc8 15. f4
exf4 16. Bxf4 Ne8 17. a3 Qd8 18. Rce1 cxd5 19. Nxd5 Be6 20. Nc3 Nd7 21. Nxa4 b5
22. Nc3 bxc4 23. Nf3 Ne5 24. Qd2 Nxf3 25. Bxf3 Rab8 26. Rf2 Qa5 27. Rc1 Rb3 28.
Be3 Rcb8 29. Rc2 Be5 30. Bd4 Nf6 31. Bxe5 Qxe5 32. Qd1 Nd7 33. Bg4 Nc5 34. Bxe6
fxe6 35. Qf3 R3b7 36. Rf1 Nd3 37. Nd1 Qg5 38. Qe2 d5 39. exd5 exd5 40. Qe6+ Kg7
41. Re2 h5 42. Nc3 Rd8 43. Qc6 Rbd7 44. Nb5 Re7 45. Rxe7+ Qxe7 46. Qb6 h4 47.
Qd4+ Qe5 48. Qa7+ Kh6 49. Qa5 Re8 50. Nc7 Qe2 51. Kg1 Re5 52. Qc3 d4 53. Qxd4
Qxf1+ 54. Kxf1 Re1# 0-1

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. h3 Nbd7 7. Bg5 e5 8. d5 a5 9. Be2 Nc5 10. Nd2 Bd7 11. Rc1 c6 12. O-O a4 13. Qc2 Qb6 14. Kh1 Rfc8 15. f4 exf4 16. Bxf4 Ne8 

We got an interesting position out of the King’s Indian. Each side has its pluses in this highly diverse position. Black intends to play a3 and fix the a2 pawn as a weakness. Neither side has any immediate threats. 17. a3!? White fixes the a4 pawn, but also fixes the b2 pawn as a weakness for as long as that g7 Bishop is breathing down the long diagonal. 17… Qd8! Black has no obvious plan except for simply capturing on d5, and so he prepares for it. 18. Rce1 cxd5 19. Nxd5 Be6 I suddenly realized that Black’s position is preferable. It’s hard for White to choose a plan. The White pieces are well placed optically, but are rather useless on a deeper look. 20. Nc3 Nd7 21. Nxa4 b5 22. Nc3 bxc4 I wanted to get some more imbalance in the position, but the process did more harm than good. White needs to be careful now. 23. Nf3 Ne5?! 24. Qd2? White lands himself in a slightly depressing position after the text. Necessary was 24.Nxe5!, after which White forces Black to have a pawn on e5, after which the b2 pawn is less vulnerable. White still cannot rely on an advantage, but equality is present on the board. I had more ambitious and unrealistic expectations and was still looking to complicate the issue in my favour. 24… Nxf3 25. Bxf3 Rab8 Now White needs to consolidate to stay alive. 26. Rf2 Qa5 27. Rc1 Rb3 28. Be3

28… Rcb8 29. Rc2 Be5 30. Bd4 White has been dreaming of exchanging these Bishops for quite some time now. 30… Nf6 31. Bxe5 Qxe5 32. Qd1 Nd7 33. Bg4 Nc5 34. Bxe6 fxe6 35. Qf3 I am suddenly creating my own threats. Even though they are not deadly, it’s better than passive defense. 35… R3b7 36. Rf1 Nd3 37. Nd1 Qg5 Black has been making mistakes in time pressure. 38. Qe2? 38.Ne3 would have led to an approximately even position. 38… d5 39. exd5 exd5 40. Qe6+ Kg7 I went for this position quite willingly and I assumed that I could take advantage of Black’s weak King. Black’s Knight is a monster on d3 and it stops a lot of White’s ideas. 41. Re2 h5 42. Nc3 Rd8 43. Qc6 Rbd7 44. Nb5 Re7

I had managed to activate my pieces, and most importantly my knight. But here, it was time to settle for equality and not push for more 45. Rxe7+? I saw that after 45.Re6 Rf8 46.Rxe7+ Qxe7 47.Rxf8 Black will have nothing more than just a perpetual, yet I rejected the idea. My decision making was not ideal during this game… I thought I could try to find more. 45… Qxe7 46. Qb6 h4 47.Qd4+ Qe5! 48.Qxh4 is bad because of 48…Rh8, as 49.Qg4 is answered by 49…Nf2+, and Black winning the exchange. 48. Qa7+ Kh6 49. Qa5? What kind of a move is this? Necessary was 49.Qf7, and if 49…Nxb2 50.Rf4, where White appears to maintain the balance with threats to Black’s King. The text leads the Queen off the board. Re8 50. Nc7 Qe2 51. Kg1 Re5! Black threatens the deadly 52…Rg5! 52. Qc3 d4 53. Qxd4 Qxf1+ 54. Kxf1 Re1# 0-1 A pretty way to finish the game. Some might ask why I didn’t resign. Why wouldn’t I let me opponent finish the game with a nice mate? Pretty mates would certainly add to the idea that chess is partially an art…

Overall, this was one of the worst games I can recall in a long time. I played poorly after the opening and I missed a lot of opportunities to get half a point in the end.

Round 6

I took a half point Bye in this round. The Bye was taken before the first round and the plan was to take a break before the last three rounds, as well as avoid having another double round day. Logic was good on paper. The current tournament situation did not agree with it though.

Round 7

I was paired against IM Kleiman, rated 2375 for this round. This was no doubt a must-win with the Black pieces.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.07.04”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Kleiman”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “104”]
[EventDate “2011.06.30”]
[SourceDate “2011.07.04”]

1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Be3 Nf6 5. h3 c6 6. f4 Qa5 7. Bd3 e5 8. fxe5
dxe5 9. dxe5 Qxe5 10. Nf3 Qg3+ 11. Bf2 Qc7 12. e5 Nd5 13. Ne4 O-O 14. Bc5 Re8
15. O-O Nd7 16. Bd6 Qb6+ 17. Kh1 Nxe5 18. Nxe5 Bxe5 19. Qd2 f5 20. Rae1 Bg7 21.
Ng5 Bd7 22. c4 Ne3 23. Rf3 h6 24. Rfxe3 hxg5 25. b3 Rxe3 26. Rxe3 Qd4 27. c5
Re8 28. Bc4+ Kh7 29. Qxd4 Bxd4 30. Rxe8 Bxe8 31. Be6 Kg7 32. g4 Kf6 33. Bc8 b6
34. cxb6 axb6 35. Bc7 Bf7 36. Bd8+ Ke5 37. gxf5 gxf5 38. Bxg5 f4 39. Kg2 Bd5+
40. Kf1 f3 41. Bh4 b5 42. Ba6 Be6 43. Bf2 Bxh3+ 44. Kg1 b4 45. Bb7 Bd7 46. Kf1
Ke4 47. Bh4 Kd3 48. Ba6+ Kd2 49. Bf2 c5 50. Bc4 Bf5 51. Bd5 Bd3+ 52. Kg1 Ke2
0-1

1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Be3 Nf6 5. h3 c6 6. f4 Qa5 7. Bd3 e5 8. fxe5 dxe5 9. dxe5 Qxe5 10. Nf3 Qg3+ 11. Bf2 Qc7 12. e5 

Nothing like a Pirc. I got the type of a position that I was hoping for, risky and double-edged. Now I just need to make sure I don’t get mated. 12… Nd5! Not playing the greedy 12…Nd7?, after which 13.e6 fxe6 14.0-0 would give White a better game. The text forces White to make a decision. 13. Ne4 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Bb5 Bd7 is just about equal. O-O 14. Bc5 Re8 15. O-O Nd7 16. Bd6 Qb6+ 17. Kh1 Nxe5 Decisions, decisions. The greedy 17…Ne3, winning an exchange, just doesn’t look right. The Knight on d5 is the only good piece I have, and I shouldn’t get rid of it while also activating White’s remaining pieces. Taking the pawn is more sensible. 18. Nxe5 Bxe5 19. Qd2 f5

White will not have much compensation if he exchanges Bishops and retreats with the Knight. 20. Rae1! Bg7! 20…fxe5 21.Rxe4 looks dangerous for Black, so I decided to keep my best defender close to what it needs to defend. 21. Ng5 Bd7 22. c4 Ne3 23. Rf3 h6 Taking advantage of White’s Knight, which is trapped on g5. 23…c5 was an interesting alternative. 24. Rfxe3 hxg5 25. b3 Rxe3 26. Rxe3 Qd4 27. c5 Re8 28. Bc4+ Kh7 29. Qxd4 Bxd4 30. Rxe8 Bxe8 I managed to get into a Bishop endgame up a pawn, partially because both players are in some sort of time trouble. Conversion is never easy due to White’s threats with the Bishop and Black’s doubled g-pawns. 31. Be6 Kg7 32. g4 Kf6 33. Bc8 b6 34. cxb6 axb6 35. Bc7 Bf7!? An interesting idea. I willingly gave back the pawn to activate all of my pieces. 36. Bd8+ Ke5 37. gxf5 gxf5 38. Bxg5

Each side only has three pawns and two Bishops. Not much material. But each of Black’s pieces is better than its counterpart. The f-pawn also has potential. It’s important to contain the opponent. 38… f4 39. Kg2 Bd5+ The King will remain passive on the back-rank forever. 40. Kf1 f3 41. Bh4 b5 42. Ba6? The losing move. White kills his Bishop, which appears to be lost behind my pawns. More importantly, there are now potential mating threats! 42… Be6 43. Bf2 White gives up a pawn, after which his position is lost. Not any better is 43.Bg3+ Ke4 44.h4 Bh3+ 45.Ke1 Kd3! 46.a4 f2+! 47.Bxf2 Bc3+ 48.Kd1 Bd2!, followed by 49… Bg4 mate. 46.Bf2 is answered by the same idea with Bc3-d2, followed by Bf1-e2 mate. This was a nice line to see during a game. 43… Bxh3+ 44. Kg1 b4! The most obvious win. Black will eventually trade off the dark squared Bishops, so it only makes sense to make a2 a permanent weakness. It did not get to that though… 45. Bb7 Bd7 46. Kf1 Ke4 Always important to activate the King. 47. Bh4 Kd3 48. Ba6+ Kd2 Going back to mating ideas. 49. Bf2 c5 50. Bc4 Bf5 51. Bd5 Bd3+ 52. Kg1 Ke2 0-1 White resigned.

A nice looking endgame, but the middle game has its highs and lows.

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.

Quick World Open Report

I got back from Philadelphia yesterday after playing in the World Open. I finished the tournament at 5/9. It was a huge disappointment. Something just wasn’t clicking. The effort was there, but the brain apparently was not. One reasonable explanation is the two rounds a day format. After drawing a game that lasted over 5 hours in the 8th round, I quickly collapsed in the final round. I tried to combat fatigue with a sixth round half point bye, but it was just not to be. I will be reporting more on the tournament after I finish my upcoming one.

It would be nice to say that this stuff “just happens”, everybody has bad tournaments. Which is of course true. But the truth is that it really sucks when it happens. There is no better way to put it. Setbacks, in the form of bad tournaments, are a big part of chess. All it often takes is a fresh start at a new tournament.

I will not be waiting long for my next tournament, with the Canadian Open starting on Saturday. Hope to see many of you there! I will be giving a simultaneous exhibition tomorrow at 8pm to start the festivities.

Let’s finish on a positive note. My July 1st rating is 2611;).