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.

Capablanca Memorial: Rounds 1-4

I arrived in Havana on May 9th, 2 days before the start of the first round. I was picked up at the airport by the organizers.

This was the first time that I did not change time zones for a tournament. A nice change! Havana is a beautiful city. I had a full day before the tournament to walk around and explore. I will post photos after I am done analyzing the games.

The opening ceremony took place the night before the first round. The organizers of this traditional event did a great job and provided the participants with some nice performances. There was also the drawing or lots. The organizers did a fantastic job throughout of the event.

There is nothing the organizers can do about internet though. Internet was provided in the hotel lobby for 8 CUC (approx. $8) per hour. Such is internet access in Cuba.

I came to Cuba for the competition. With a 2560 average rating, there are no easy games. Out of the 10 players in the Premier Group, 9 were GMs. This tournament is a strong round robin that would test me throughout the event.

Round 1

I was paired against Omar Almeida Quintana, rated 2558, in the first round.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.05.11”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Almeida, O.”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “104”]
[EventDate “2011.05.11”]
[SourceDate “2011.05.11”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Bg5 c5 5. d5 h6 6. Bh4 d6 7. e3 Bxc3+ 8. bxc3
Qe7 9. Nf3 e5 10. Nd2 g5 11. Bg3 Nbd7 12. h4 Rg8 13. hxg5 hxg5 14. Qc2 Kd8 15.
Bd3 Kc7 16. O-O-O b6 17. f3 Bb7 18. Bf5 Rh8 19. Bf2 Rag8 20. g4 Qe8 21. e4 Rxh1
22. Rxh1 Rh8 23. Qd1 Qg8 24. Be3 Rxh1 25. Qxh1 Qg7 26. Kb2 Ba6 27. Kb3 b5 28.
cxb5 Bxb5 29. c4 Ba6 30. Qc1 Nb8 31. Nb1 Nfd7 32. Bxg5 Nb6 33. Na3 Qh8 34. Nb5+
Bxb5 35. cxb5 Qh3 36. Qd1 Qg2 37. Bd2 Qf2 38. Bc3 c4+ 39. Ka3 Qc5+ 40. Kb2
Qxb5+ 41. Kc1 Na4 42. Qd2 Na6 43. f4 Nxc3 44. Qxc3 Nb4 45. Kd2 Nxa2 46. Qa3 c3+
47. Kc2 Nb4+ 48. Kxc3 Qc5+ 49. Kb3 a5 50. Qb2 exf4 51. e5 Qxd5+ 52. Ka4 dxe5
0-1

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Bg5 A very rare move nowadays. c5 5. d5 h6 6. Bh4 d6 7. e3 Bxc3+ 8. bxc3 Qe7 9. Nf3 e5 10. Nd2 g5 11. Bg3

So far so good according to theory. 11…Bf5 is the main move, which attempts to stop White from playing e4 and develops the Bishop to a natural square. Black often reacts to f3 with e4 in these positions. 11… Nbd7 12. h4 Rg8 13. hxg5 White takes control of the h-file 13… hxg5 14. Qc2 Kd8 A standard and interesting idea. Black puts his King on c7 where it is safe without making any other commitments 15. Bd3 Kc7 16. O-O-O b6 16…Nb6!? with the idea of Bd7 and Ba4 is worth some attention. 17. f3 Bb7 18. Bf5 Rh8 19. Bf2! White is playing some strong moves and attempts to rearrange his pieces. His future plans include playing g4 and e4, followed by pressing on the weak g5 pawn. Black is unable to play f6 in a lot of lines. 19… Rag8 20. g4 Qe8 20…e4!? was interesting, in an attempt to complicate matters and bring the Black knight out to e5, to exploit the weakness of c4. 21. e4 Now White has a nagging advantage which Black attempts to neutralize. 21… Rxh1 22. Rxh1 Rh8 23. Qd1 Qg8 24. Be3 Rxh1 25. Qxh1 Qg7 26. Kb2

26… Ba6?! Black is going in the wrong direction. The next move makes Black’s position a difficult one. 26…Nf8! 27.Nf1 Ng8 28.Qh5 f6 29.Ng3 Kd8 is probably enough to hold. 27. Kb3 b5? 27…Nf8 was still preferable. After this move, trouble awaits Black. I intended to complicate the position and underestimated the consequences. 28. cxb5 Bxb5 29. c4 Ba6 30. Qc1! The queen aims at both g5 and a3. 30… Nb8 31. Nb1?! White should have preferred 31. Qa3! and continue focusing on the queen side. 31… Nfd7 32. Bxg5 Nb6 33. Na3 Qh8 34. Nb5+? An attempt to oversimplify the position fails. Black is eager to gain some activity through the entry of the queen. 34.Qe1 would have been preferable but White’s position is not as good as it used to be. 34… Bxb5 35. cxb5 Qh3 35…Qh2 was interesting, threatening both Qf2 and Qe2 next. 36. Qd1 Qg2 White’s life is suddenly not that easy. Black is very active. 37. Bd2? 37.a4 was a better option.

37… Qf2! The move that my opponent missed. Suddenly, Black is threatening Qd4 and has ideas involving c4+. White is the one in need of good moves now. 38. Bc3 c4+ 39. Ka3 Qc5+ 40. Kb2 Qxb5+ 41. Kc1 Na4 42. Qd2 Na6 All of Black’s pieces are getting in on the action. White’s bishop on f5 is starting to look a bit ridiculous. 43.Bxe5 fails to 43…dxe5 44.d6+ Kb7 45.d7 c3! 43. f4 Nxc3 44. Qxc3 Nb4 45. Kd2 Nxa2 46. Qa3 c3+ 47. Kc2 Nb4+ 48. Kxc3 Qc5+ 49. Kb3 a5! White is lacking good moves. 50. Qb2 exf4 51. e5 Qxd5+ 52. Ka4 dxe5 0-1 Black completely dominates the final position.

A good finish but a rough ride. I was fortunate to steer the game my way towards the end. Always nice to be on top in the first round.

Round 2

I was to play GM Emilio Cordova of Peru in the second round.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.05.12”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Cordova, E.”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “80”]
[EventDate “2011.05.11”]
[SourceDate “2011.05.12”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. Nc3 Bxa6 7. Nf3 d6 8. e4
Bxf1 9. Kxf1 Bg7 10. g3 O-O 11. Kg2 Nbd7 12. h3 Ra6 13. Qc2 Qa8 14. Rd1 Ne8 15.
Bg5 f6 16. Be3 Nc7 17. Rab1 f5 18. Kg1 Bxc3 19. Qxc3 fxe4 20. Ng5 Rf5 21. b4
Nxd5 22. Qc4 e6 23. Qxe4 Nxe3 24. Qxe6+ Kh8 25. Qxe3 Ne5 26. Ne4 Rf3 27. Qe2
Rxa2 28. Rd2 Rxd2 29. Nxd2 Rd3 30. Qe4 Qxe4 31. Nxe4 Rd4 32. Ng5 Rxb4 33. Rd1
h6 34. f4 hxg5 35. fxe5 dxe5 36. Rd5 Re4 37. Rxc5 Kg7 38. Kf2 g4 39. hxg4 Kf6
40. Rc6+ Kg5 1/2-1/2

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. Nc3 Bxa6 7. Nf3 d6 8. e4
Bxf1 9. Kxf1 Bg7 10. g3 O-O 11. Kg2 Nbd7 12. h3 Ra6 13. Qc2 Qa8 14. Rd1 Ne8 15.
Bg5 f6 16. Be3 Nc7 

It’s been a relatively standard line of the Benko so far. Black wants to play f5. White’s plan is less clear. 17. Rab1? Too slow! 17.Nh4!? f5 18.exf5 Bxc3 19.fxg6 Nxd5 20. gxh7+ Kh8 21. Kg2 leads to a completely chaotic and unclear position. After Black’s next move, which I underestimated, Black has an advantage as White’s center falls apart. 17… f5! 18. Kg1 Getting the King off of that poisonous diagonal. 18… Bxc3 19. Qxc3 fxe4 20. Ng5 20.Bh6 Rf6 21.Ng5 was another option, but Black would still have the edge. 20… Rf5! Black wants to take on d5 and have a clear advantage due to his strong center. 21. b4?! An attempt to complicate the position by creating some problems for Black. 21… Nxd5 22. Qc4 e6? 22…h6 23.Nxe4 Kh7!!, threatening to take on b4 as well as play Ne5 would leave White is very serious trouble. The text is still better for Black but is not clear. 23. Qxe4 Nxe3 24. Qxe6+ Kh8 25. Qxe3 Ne5

Black went for this position from a distance, believing that only he will be playing for a win here. In time pressure I started making “solid” moves. 26. Ne4? 26.bxc5! Rxg5 27.cxd6 Nf3+ 28.Kf1 leaves Black with nothing better than a draw by perpetual due to the strength of the d-pawn. 26… Rf3 27. Qe2 Rxa2 28. Rd2 Rxd2 29. Nxd2 Rd3 30. Qe4 Qxe4 31. Nxe4 Rd4 32. Ng5 Rxb4 33. Rd1

33… h6? We had both underestimated the strength of 33…c4! 34.Rxd6 c3 35.Rd8+ Kg7 36.Rc8 Rc4 37.Rxc4 Nxc4 where White is in trouble. 34.Ne4 Rb6 also leaves Black with good winning chances. 34. f4! My opponent missed this move. 34… hxg5 35. fxe5 dxe5 36. Rd5 The arising rook endgame is an easy draw due to the weakness of Black’s doubled pawns. 36… Re4 37. Rxc5 Kg7 38. Kf2 g4 39. hxg4 Kf6 40. Rc6+ Kg5 1/2-1/2

A good save but not exactly what I had hoped for with the White pieces. Overall, this tournament seemed to be disastrous for the White pieces in the Premier group.

Round 3

I was paired against GM Alvarez Pedraza in this round.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.05.13”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Alvarez, Aramis”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “104”]
[EventDate “2011.05.11”]
[SourceDate “2011.05.12”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nf3 g6 7. Bf4 Bg7 8. Qa4+
Bd7 9. Qb3 Qc7 10. e4 Nh5 11. Be3 O-O 12. Be2 a6 13. a4 Bg4 14. e5 dxe5 15. d6
Qxd6 16. Rd1 Be6 17. Bc4 Bxc4 18. Qxc4 Qc6 19. Nd5 Kh8 20. Ng5 h6 21. Ne4 Nd7
22. O-O Rae8 23. Ndc3 Re6 24. Rd2 f5 25. Rxd7 Qxd7 26. Nxc5 Rc6 27. Nxd7 Rxc4
28. Nxf8 Bxf8 29. Rd1 Nf6 30. Rd8 Kg7 31. Rb8 Rc7 32. f4 Bd6 33. Rd8 Rd7 34.
Rxd7+ Nxd7 35. g3 exf4 36. gxf4 Nc5 37. Kg2 Nd3 38. Ne2 Kf6 39. Bd4+ Ke6 40.
Kf3 Kd5 41. Bg7 h5 42. b3 Nc5 43. Nd4 Ne4 44. Ke3 Bc5 45. Kd3 Nf2+ 46. Kc3 Nh3
47. Ne2 Be3 48. Bh6 Ke4 49. Kc4 Bxf4 50. Nxf4 Nxf4 51. Kc5 Ne6+ 52. Kd6 f4 0-1

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nf3 g6 7. Bf4 Bg7 8. Qa4+
Bd7 9. Qb3 Qc7 10. e4 Nh5 11. Be3 O-O 12. Be2 a6 13. a4 Bg4 

This position is still a theoretical one. 14.h3 is the main continuation. 14. e5?! A novelty. White sacrifices two pawns and tries to get all his pieces involved in the center of the board. 14… dxe5 15. d6 Qxd6 I felt like Black shouldn’t be in any trouble after taking the two pawns. 16. Rd1 Be6?! A safe approach. 16…Qc6 17.Nd5 Re8 18.0-0 Nd7 19. h3 Nf4 would have given Black a clear advantage. 17. Bc4 17.Qxb7 Qc6 18.Qxc6 Nxc6 19.Bxc5 Rfb8 is what I anticipated, with a slight advantage for Black. 17… Bxc4 18. Qxc4 Qc6 19. Nd5 Kh8 20. Ng5 h6 21. Ne4 Nd7 22. O-O Rae8 Black is up two whole pawns but White has strong pressure on the d-file and all of his pieces are well placed. I was very willing to give up one of my pawns to untie my pieces. 23. Ndc3 Re6 24. Rd2

It’s hard for Black to get his pieces out. After a long think I went for simplification. 24… f5! Black goes into a risk-free endgame. 25. Rxd7 Qxd7 26. Nxc5 Rc6 27. Nxd7 Rxc4 28. Nxf8 Bxf8 29. Rd1 Nf6? 29…Bg7 gives Black a bigger advantage as it protects the King and allows for Rb4 to come in next. A win is still far away though. 30. Rd8 Kg7 31. Rb8 Rc7

The moment of truth. Black is tied up but this is only temporary. Once I play Bd6 the White rook looks awkward on the 8th rank. 32. f4? 32.Bxh6! Kxh6 33.Rxf8 Ne4 34.Rh8+! Kg7 35.Rb8 gives White excellent drawing chances. The text leaves White down a pawn in a position that is close to lost. 32… Bd6 33. Rd8 Rd7 34.Rxd7+ Nxd7 35. g3 exf4 36. gxf4 Black is up a pawn. Time to activate my pieces as much as possible. The Knight would be ideally placed on d3 where it attacks b2 and f4. The King would ideally invade the White queen side through d5. The rest is relatively easy. 36… Nc5 37. Kg2 Nd3 38. Ne2 Kf6 39. Bd4+ Ke6 40. Kf3 Kd5 41. Bg7 h5 42. b3 Nc5 43. Nd4 Ne4 44. Ke3 Bc5 45. Kd3 Nf2+ 46. Kc3 Nh3 47. Ne2 Be3 48. Bh6 Ke4 49. Kc4 Bxf4 50. Nxf4 Nxf4 51. Kc5 Ne6+ 52. Kd6 f4 0-1

This was a good win. White got overly creative in the opening and then missed on his chances in the ending. Good technique towards the end.

Round 4

I was to play GM Ortiz Suarez with the Black pieces.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.05.14”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Ortiz”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “119”]
[EventDate “2011.05.11”]
[SourceDate “2011.05.13”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 a6 5. Ba4 b5 6. Bb3 Be7 7. c3 O-O 8. d3
d6 9. Nbd2 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. h3 Nc6 12. Nf1 d5 13. Ng3 dxe4 14. dxe4 Be6 15.
Nf5 Bc4 16. Qe3 Nh5 17. Nd2 Nf4 18. Qg3 Bf6 19. Nxc4 bxc4 20. Ne3 Nd3+ 21. Ke2
Nf4+ 22. Kf1 Na5 23. Ng4 Rb8 24. Rb1 Qd6 25. Be3 Rfd8 26. Qf3 Nd3 27. b3 Be7
28. g3 Qe6 29. Ke2 cxb3 30. axb3 c4 31. b4 Nb7 32. Bd2 Nd6 33. Ne3 Nb5 34. Nd5
f5 35. Qxf5 Qd6 36. Bxd3 cxd3+ 37. Kf1 Rf8 38. Qg4 Na3 39. Rd1 Rb5 40. Ne3 Qf6
41. Rh2 a5 42. Bc1 axb4 43. cxb4 Nc2 44. Nd5 Qd6 45. Rxd3 Nxb4 46. Nxe7+ Qxe7
47. Rd7 Qf6 48. Bg5 Qa6 49. Kg2 Nc2 50. h4 Ne1+ 51. Kh3 Rb7 52. Rh1 Nd3 53. Be3
Rxd7 54. Qxd7 Nxf2+ 55. Bxf2 Rxf2 56. Rc1 h6 57. h5 Rf8 58. Qd5+ Kh7 59. Qxe5
Qe2 60. Rc7 1/2-1/2

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 a6 5. Ba4 b5 6. Bb3 Be7 7. c3 O-O 8. d3
d6 9. Nbd2 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. h3 Nc6 12. Nf1 d5 13. Ng3 dxe4 14. dxe4 Be6 15.
Nf5 Bc4 16. Qe3

Everything has been pretty standard up until now. I wanted to create as many problems as possible for my opponent. 16… Nh5!? Going for the f4 square. 17. Nd2 17.g3 was also interesting.  17… Nf4 18. Qg3 Bf6 19. Nxc4 bxc4 White has the better pawn structure and the two Bishops but Black has the more active pieces. 20.Bxf4 exf4 21.Qxf4 Rb8 would have been interesting, with Black having clear compensation for the pawn. 20. Ne3 Nd3+ 21. Ke2 Nf4+ 22. Kf1 Na5 23. Ng4 Rb8 24. Rb1 Qd6 25. Be3 Rfd8 26. Qf3 Nd3 27. b3? 27.Nxf6 would have been preferable, giving White an advantage. My opponent did not see my plan. 27… Be7! The Knight is starting to look awkward on g4. 28. g3 Qe6 29. Ke2 The position has changed completely over the last few moves. 29…h5! 30.Nh2 cxb3 31.cxb3 c4! would have given Black a substantial advantage. The text promises Black a bit less. 29… cxb3 30. axb3 c4 31. b4 Nb7 32. Bd2 Nd6 33. Ne3 Nb5? 33…Bg5 was more promising. The Bishop does not have a big future and I should have exchanged it 34. Nd5

I should have played 34… Na3 35.Bxd3 cxd3 36.Qxd3 Nxb1 37.Rxb1, where the position is close to equal because of how solid White is. Instead, I played 34… f5? Simply blundered a pawn after calculating the above for a long time. 35. Qxf5 I missed 35…Qxf5 36.Nxe7 when I was calculating the variation before. Such blunders happen! Need to recover mentally. 35… Qd6 36. Bxd3 cxd3+ 37. Kf1 Rf8 38. Qg4 Na3? 38… Nc7 would have been much stronger since I need to get rid of the annoying Knight on d5. 39. Rd1 Rb5 40. Ne3 A safe 40th move, 40.Kg2 Rxd5 41.exd5 Qxd5+ 42.f3 would have given White a big advantage. 40… Qf6 41. Rh2 a5 Trying to stir up the position one more time. 42. Bc1 axb4 43. cxb4 Nc2 44. Nd5 Qd6 45. Rxd3 Nxb4 46. Nxe7+ Qxe7 47. Rd7 Qf6 48. Bg5 Qa6 49. Kg2 Nc2 50. h4?? White would still have the advantage after 50.Rh1!

I didn’t have much time on the clock and was more than satisfied with the text. 50… Ne1+? 50…Rb1!  wins for Black! 51.Rxg7+ loses to Kh8, still threatening Qf1 mate. 51.Kh3 loses to 51…Qf1+ 52.Rg2 Qh1+ 53.Rh2 Qxh2+ 54.Kxh2 Rxf2+ 55.Kh3 Rh1 mate. 51. Kh3 Rb7 52. Rh1 Nd3? 52…h5 53.Qxh5 Qe6+ 54.Qg4 Qxd7 55.Rxe1 Rxf2 will probably still end up in a draw but it is Black who will be pressing for the full point. 53. Be3 Rxd7 54. Qxd7 Nxf2+ 55. Bxf2 Rxf2 56. Rc1 h6 57. h5 Rf8 58. Qd5+ Kh7 59. Qxe5
Qe2 60. Rc7 1/2-1/2
Black has to settle for the perpetual.


A very exciting affair that kept going back and forth. I recovered well after my blunder to complicate matters but was unable to find the win when it was there. A fair outcome in the end.

I was leading the tournament after four rounds with 3/4. It could have been a lot less though. I knew that I would have to play better in the rest of the tournament.

Overview

The tournament in Toluca was a big success for me. It was a “light” trip for me and my first tournament away from Europe in a long time. There was no real adjustment to time difference.

The organization of the event was not perfect but everybody did their best. The late start of the first, second and fourth rounds was irritating for the players. It was difficult to avoid considering 1300 players took part in the event and registration took place on the first two days. The Mexican Youth Championships and the Women’s Championships took place in the same playing hall, as well as other sections by rating. The players agreed that the time control for the event, at 120min/40moves + 30min for the rest of the game and 30sec added from move one, was too long when playing two games a day. Long morning games would take too much out of the players and potentially delay the start of the evening round.

Outside of that the organization of the event was pretty good. The hotel was five stars. I went swimming several times during the tournament. The organizers addressed the players’ concerns. They even ordered (and paid) for a taxi for me to the airport at the end of the tournament.

The atmosphere created by Mexican spectators was great. There is real love for chess in Mexico. In the last few days of the tournament the GMs were asked to sign many autographs for kids as well as adults. There was clear appreciation for the chess players. Many spectators came to watch the games throughout the event.

As for myself, I feel like I played energetic chess at the end of the event. My 6th, 7th and 9th round games showed good wins. I came out on top during those sharp struggles.

Time to get to some photos!

The playing hall

A garden just outside of the playing hall

Spectators climbing chairs to see GM Cori blitzing after the last round. The pile later got bigger

Left to right: GMs Corrales, Leon Hoyos and Kovalyov

The Americans (l-r): FM Betanelli, GM Lenderman and Erik Santarius

You can see the three logos of my sponsors on the shirt

Lineup of officials at the closing ceremony

GM Fidel Corrales receiving his prize

Myself doing the rounds

A chess fan and GM Bruzon

The view from my room, another garden

Big thanks to Janeth for the photos below

Pitterson-Bluvshtein. I guess that’s what I look like when I play

Bluvshtein-Quesada

Left to right: Janeth, myself and Estefania

A short break awaits me. I will be leaving for Havana on in just over a week. More to come on that later.

Rounds 7-9

Round 7

I was paired against GM Perez Rodriguez, rated 2483 in this round. At this point of the tournament I started estimating how many points I needed to qualify to the World Cup. The top 6 spots qualify, and Bruzon has already qualified. I assumed that 7/9 would result in a long tie-break while 7.5 gets in easily. This felt like a must-win. That would explain my choice of opening.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.04.23”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Perez Rodriguez, Lui M”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “107”]
[EventDate “2011.04.19”]
[SourceDate “2011.04.23”]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. g4 h6 8. h3 e5
9. Bd2 dxc4 10. Bxc4 b5 11. Bb3 exd4 12. exd4 b4 13. Na4 O-O 14. Bxh6 Qe7+ 15.
Kf1 Qe4 16. Qxe4 Nxe4 17. Be3 Bb7 18. Kg2 c5 19. Rhd1 Rac8 20. Rac1 cxd4 21.
Rxc8 Rxc8 22. Rxd4 Ne5 23. Bd5 Bxd5 24. Rxd5 Nc4 25. Bxa7 Ra8 26. Nb6 Nxb6 27.
Bxb6 Rxa2 28. Bd4 f6 29. Nh4 Ra6 30. Nf5 Bf8 31. Rd8 Ng5 32. Be3 Ne6 33. Rd2 g6
34. Nh4 g5 35. Nf5 Bc5 36. Kf3 Bxe3 37. Kxe3 Ra1 38. Rd6 Rb1 39. Ke4 Kf7 40.
Rd2 Nc5+ 41. Kd5 Na4 42. Nd6+ Kg6 43. Nc4 Rc1 44. Re2 Rb1 45. Kc6 f5 46. Kb5
Rxb2 47. Rxb2 Nxb2 48. Nxb2 fxg4 49. hxg4 Kf6 50. Nd3 b3 51. Kc4 b2 52. Nxb2
Ke5 53. Nd3+ Ke4 54. Ne1 1-0

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. g4 h6 8. h3 e5 9. Bd2

I played the very aggressive Shirov Attack in the Meran. Black is always a bit nervous about an attack that can ensue on the King-side. 9… dxc4 Black decides to take some of the pressure off of the center. 10. Bxc4 b5 A bit loose. Black retaliates with aggression. This move creates a lot of holes in Black’s position. It also forces Black to play accurately later on.  11. Bb3 11.Bd3 would give White a small edge. My move keeps the Bishop on the diagonal of the f7 pawn, where I can later think about playing g5, to maintain pressure on the pawn with the Knight on g5. 11… exd4? A mistake. Black opens up White’s dark squares Bishop, allowing White another resource in a potential attack. 12. exd4 b4 13. Na4 O-O Black hides his King and forces White into a tough decision.

I thought for about 30min in this position. My top options included 0-0, 0-0-0, and 14. Bxh6!? Suddenly Black finds himself under severe pressure. The first question is whether or not he can take the piece. 14…gxh6 15.Qg6+ Kh8 16.Qxh6+ Kh8 17.0-0! leaves White with an advantage because 18.Ng5 is coming next. The position would still be a complicated one though. 14… Qe7+ 15. Kf1! White’s King is safe on g2. Re1 is an unpleasant threat for Black to face, and so is Qg6. 15… Qe4 Black settles for being down a pawn for the rest of the game. 16. Qxe4 Nxe4 17. Be3 Bb7 18. Kg2 c5 19. Rhd1 Rac8 20. Rac1 cxd4 21. Rxc8 Rxc8 22. Rxd4 White has neutralized Black’s compensation and is now “just” a pawn up. 22… Ne5 23. Bd5 Bxd5 24. Rxd5 Nc4 25. Bxa7 Ra8 26. Nb6 Nxb6 27. Bxb6 Rxa2 28. Bd4 Far in advance, I had missed 28.Rd4 Ra6! which gives Black new hope. 28… f6 It’s important to re-evaluate the situation after drastic changes. A lot has changed recently. White is still up a pawn but winning is not that easy because the b2 pawn is a potential target for later. 29. Nh4 Ra6 30. Nf5 Bf8 31. Rd8 Ng5 I decided to bring the rook back to home base and start improving the position of my King.32. Be3 Ne6 33. Rd2 g6 34. Nh4 g5 35. Nf5 Bc5 36. Kf3 Bxe3 37. Kxe3 Ra1 38. Rd6 Rb1 39. Ke4 Kf7 40. Rd2 Nc5+? I haven’t been playing all that well for the last 10 moves or so. Some of my advantage has evaporated but I still have my extra pawn. Black’s last move, the often critical 40th move, takes the Knight on a journey to find itself in trouble on a4.  Time to activate that King. 41. Kd5! Na4 42. Nd6+ Kg6 42…Ke7 43.Nc4 Kd7 would have offered stronger resistance. 43. Nc4 Rc1

Once again, big changes in the position called for a deep think. 44. Re2! 42.Rd3 is bad due to 42…Rxc4! 43.Kxc4 Nxb2+, where Black will certainly not lose the pawn endgame. The text intends to play Re3-b3-b4. Black’s Knight is trapped on a4, I just need to attack it with caution. 44… Rb1 Black stops the rook’s maneuver. 45. Kc6 The King can capture the Knight as well. White is now easily winning. 45… f5 46. Kb5 Rxb2 47. Rxb2 Nxb2 48. Nxb2 fxg4 49. hxg4 Kf6 50. Nd3 b3 51. Kc4 b2 52. Nxb2 Ke5 53. Nd3+ Ke4 54. Ne1 1-0 White will play f3 next.  Black resigned.

An important game to get back on track with the White pieces and to get into a tie for first. This game lasted over five hours, with another game to follow less than two hours after the end of this one.

Round 8

Once again, there was no time for preparation. I just focused on getting some energy by resting between games. I was to play GM De La Paz Perdomo, rated 2473 this evening. My opponent had quickly drawn his morning game against Bruzon.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.04.23”]
[Round “?”]
[White “De la Paz”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “82”]
[EventDate “2011.04.19”]
[SourceDate “2011.04.23”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. c4
c6 9. Nc3 Nxc3 10. bxc3 dxc4 11. Bxc4 Bf5 12. a4 Nd7 13. Re1 h6 14. Ba3 Bxa3
15. Rxa3 Re8 16. Rxe8+ Qxe8 17. Ra2 Qf8 18. Re2 Re8 19. a5 b5 20. axb6 Nxb6 21.
Bb3 Nd5 22. Rxe8 Qxe8 23. Ne5 f6 24. Nf3 Qe4 25. h3 Kh7 26. Bxd5 cxd5 27. Kh2
a5 28. Qa1 Qf4+ 29. Kg1 Bxh3 30. gxh3 Qxf3 31. Qxa5 h5 32. Qc5 Kg6 33. Qc8 Kg5
34. c4 Qd1+ 35. Kg2 Qxd4 36. c5 Qe4+ 37. Kg1 d4 38. c6 d3 39. Qd7 Kf4 40. Qxg7
Qxc6 41. Qg3+ Kf5 1/2-1/2

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. c4 c6 9. Nc3 Nxc3 10. bxc3 dxc4 11. Bxc4 Bf5 12. a4 Nd7 13. Re1 h6 14. Ba3 Bxa3 15. Rxa3

I have focused my attention on neutralizing the White pieces. 15… Re8 Fighting for the control of the e-file. 16. Rxe8+ Qxe8 17. Ra2 Qf8 Planning to exchange the second pair of rooks on the e-file next. 18. Re2 Re8 19. a5 Nothing too exciting has happened in the game so far, and it has looked like I am just trying to force a draw with the exchange of pieces. I changed gears. My main goal now was to create as many problems as possible for White. 19… b5 20. axb6 Nxb6 20…axb6 is more focused on equalizing. 21. Bb3 Nd5 Blocking the White Bishop and forcing the issue with the c-pawn. 22. Rxe8 Qxe8 23. Ne5! White “defends” the c-pawn by making other threats. 23…Nxc3 loses to 24.Qf3. The Knight is ideally placed on e5.

23… f6 I thought for a long time about this move. Weakening with this move is very committing. Life against the Knight on e5 is not easy though. This forces White to choose a square for his Knight. 24. Nf3? 24.Nxc6 Qxc6 25.Qf3 Be6 26.c4 Nb4 27.d5 Nxd5 28.cxd5 Qc1+ 29.Bd1 Qd2! (threatening mate and attacking the pawn) leaves Black up a pawn after the capturing of the d-pawn. 24.Nc4 would have been more unpleasant for Black. 24… Qe4! Black takes over the initiative. 25. h3 Kh7 26. Bxd5 cxd5 27. Kh2? 27.Qa1 is bad due to 27…Bxh3! Necessary was 27.Nd2, in an attempt to bring the Knight closer to the a-pawn.

27… a5? 27…Qc2! was close to winning for Black. White can’t exchange queens because he will then be unable to catch Black’s a-pawn. 28.Qe1 a5 would leave White little hopes. 28.Qa1!? Qxf2 29.Qxa7 Be4 30.Qd7 Qe3 wins a pawn, while 30…h5 gives Black total domination. A missed opportunity that I would not get again in this game. 28. Qa1! I had underestimated this move. 28… Qf4+ 29. Kg1 Bxh3 30. gxh3 Qxf3 31. Qxa5 Black is the only one who can play for a win in this endgame, but winning chances are quite slim. 31… h5!? Taking on h3 and c3 will lead to a perpetual due to Qe4+ and Qe8+. The text clears up some space for the King. 32. Qc5 Kg6 33. Qc8 Kg5 34. c4! The only move with the Black King coming in fast. 34… Qd1+ 34…dxc4 35.Qxc4 Qxh3 36.d5 leaves Black up a pawn but facing a strong passed d-pawn. 35. Kg2 Qxd4 36. c5! Of course. The passed pawns neutralize each other. 36… Qe4+ 37. Kg1 d4 38. c6 d3 39. Qd7 Kf4 40. Qxg7 Qxc6 41. Qg3+ Kf5 1/2-1/2

A missed opportunity. I could have been going into the last round in clear first place. Instead, there was an eight way tie for first. This was a very long day for me. I played for a total of 10 hours.

Round 9

I got a good pairing for the last round. I was to play IM Barrientos, rated 2499. I came to Toluca to qualify to the World Cup. Things have changed. Qualifying for the World Cup was still important. But I was also in a position to win the Continental Championships. Opportunity of a lifetime. I’m sure my opponent felt the same way.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.04.24”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Barrientos”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “87”]
[EventDate “2011.04.19”]
[SourceDate “2011.04.24”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. cxd5 exd5 8.
e3 Qc7 9. Ne2 Bf5 10. Nf4 g5 11. Nd3 Nbd7 12. Be2 c4 13. Nf2 Rg8 14. O-O O-O-O
15. e4 dxe4 16. fxe4 Bxe4 17. Nxe4 Nxe4 18. Qc2 Ndf6 19. Rb1 Rg6 20. Rb4 Kb8
21. Rxc4 Qd6 22. Bf3 Qe6 23. Rb4 Nd6 24. c4 Rc8 25. Qb3 Rc7 26. c5 Qxb3 27.
Rxb3 Nf5 28. Bb2 Nh4 29. Be2 Ne4 30. Re3 f5 31. g3 b6 32. Bd3 bxc5 33. gxh4
gxh4+ 34. Kh1 Rb6 35. Rxf5 Rxb2 36. Rf8+ Kb7 37. Bxe4+ Ka6 38. Rf6+ Ka5 39. Rf5
Kb6 40. dxc5+ Rxc5 41. Rxc5 Kxc5 42. Bxh7 Rb7 43. Bf5 Rf7 44. Rf3 1-0

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 Going back to the f3 Nimzo for the last round game. It was an interesting choice. It also threw my opponent off of preparation. 4… d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. cxd5 exd5 8. e3 Qc7 9. Ne2 Bf5 10. Nf4 g5 11. Nd3 Nbd7 12. Be2 c4 13. Nf2 Rg8 14. O-O O-O-O

I had been aiming for this position. White has a plan of eventually playing e4. Black intends to stop e4 and attempt an attack on the king-side.  15. e4! Sacrificing the pawn for strong compensation. Suddenly, my pieces are in sync.  15… dxe4 16. fxe4 Bxe4 16…Nxe4 17.Nxe4 Bxe4 18.Rxf7 gives White an edge. 17. Nxe4 Nxe4 18. Qc2! A very calm move. Black is forced to decide how to defend the Knight on e4. Black’s Knights are lacking good squares while White’s Bishops are about to come out. 18… Ndf6 18…Nd6 19.a4 followed by Ba3 is strong for White. 19. Rb1 Rg6?! An interesting idea which also creates some problems for me. The immediate 19…Kb8 20.Rb4 Rc8 looked more opportunistic for Black. With the text, Black threatens Rh6 and has his own ideas of an attack. 20. Rb4 Kb8 21. Rxc4 Qd6 22. Bf3! White has a clear advantage now. The rook on g6 is completely misplaced. 22…Rh6 23.g3 gives Black no hope of an attack. 22… Qe6 23. Rb4 Nd6 24. c4! The most logical continuation, trying to push the Black pieces as far back as possible. 24… Rc8

This was another crucial position. White has a lot of ways to play. Qb1, Qb2, Qb3 and c5 are all options.25. Qb3!? The simplest continuation. White intends to play c5 next, exchange queens, and win due to Black’s lack of piece coordination. 25… Rc7 26. c5 Qxb3 27. Rxb3 Nf5 28. Bb2 White is not up any material but is close to winning due to the domination of the position. 28… Nh4 The more logical 28…Ne7 fails to 29.d5! after which comes 30.Be5. 29. Be2 29.Bd1 achieves the same. Similar situation as in the 7th round. Black’s Knight is trapped at the corner of the board, this time on h4 (and not a4). 29… Ne4 30. Re3 f5 31. g3 b6 Black attempts to stir up some complication after losing the piece. It’s important to put out the fire before taking the piece to reduce complications. 32. Bd3 bxc5 33. gxh4 gxh4+ 34. Kh1 Rb6 I thought for some time here. I knew that I was close. Just needed to make a few accurate moves. 35. Rxf5! Rxb2 36. Rf8+ Kb7 37. Bxe4+ Ka6 38. Rf6+ Ka5 39. Rf5 Preparing to force the exchange of a pair of rooks to simplify my task. 39… Kb6 40. dxc5+ Rxc5 41. Rxc5 Kxc5 42. Bxh7 Rb7 43. Bf5 Rf7 44. Rf3 1-0


This game was my best of the tournament. I’m proud to have performed well when it counted most. This result left me with a great feeling. I qualified for the World Cup and finished tied for first at the Pan American Championships. The result meant a lot to me. The final standings from the official site.

Rank Name Flags Score Fed. M/F BH SB Rating TPR W-We Mutual PS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 GM Bruzon Batista, Lazaro 7.5 CUB M 55.0 44.5 2668 2751 +0.88 0.0 39.5 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1
2 GM Bluvshtein, Mark 7.5 CAN M 51.0 41.5 2589 2675 +0.82 0.0 38.0 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1
3 GM Vescovi, Giovanni 7.5 BRA M 54.0 44.75 2634 2726 +1.06 0.0 37.5 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1
4 GM Quesada Perez, Yuniesky 7.5 CUB M 52.0 45.0 2620 2848 +1.45 0.0 34.5 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 1
5 GM Cori, Jorge 7.0 PER M 52.0 39.0 2485 2638 +1.87 . 36.5 1 1 1 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 1
6 GM Corrales Jimenez, Fidel 7.0 CUB M 51.5 39.75 2597 2603 +0.17 . 34.5 1 1 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 1 1
7 IM Ortiz Suarez, Isan 7.0 CUB M 46.5 35.25 2543 2531 -0.02 . 33.5 ½ 1 1 1 0 ½ 1 1 1
8 GM De La Paz Perdomo, Frank 6.5 CUB M 54.5 35.75 2473 2600 +1.73 . 39.0 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0
9 GM Lafuente, Pablo 6.5 ARG M 55.5 37.25 2572 2621 +0.73 . 38.5 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 0 1 0
10 GM Friedel, Joshua E 6.5 USA M 54.0 36.75 2529 2598 +0.97 . 38.0 1 1 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 0
11 IM Barrientos, Sergio E 6.5 COL M 53.5 35.25 2499 2578 +1.12 . 37.5 1 1 1 1 ½ 0 1 1 0
12 GM Perez Rodriguez, Luis Manu 6.5 CUB M 47.0 30.5 2483 2533 +0.80 . 36.0 1 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 0 1 ½
13 FM Quesada Perez, Yasser 6.5 CUB M 48.5 32.5 2421 2557 +1.75 . 34.0 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1
14 GM Gonzalez Zamora, Juan Carl DF 6.5 MEX M 50.5 35.75 2545 2473 -0.61 . 33.5 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1
15 GM Nogueiras, Jesus 6.5 CUB M 49.0 33.75 2566 2520 -0.32 . 33.0 1 1 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½
16 GM Cordova, Emilio 6.5 PER M 48.5 34.5 2562 2471 -0.74 . 31.5 1 0 1 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1
17 Santarius, Erik F 6.5 USA M 45.0 31.75 2274 2501 +2.71 . 31.5 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1
18 GM Gonzalez Garcia, Jose 6.0 MEX M 49.5 29.75 2511 2485 -0.14 . 35.0 1 1 ½ 1 1 0 ½ 1 0
19 GM Felgaer, Ruben 6.0 ARG M 50.0 30.5 2577 2527 -0.45 . 34.5 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 0 ½
20 GM Abreu Delgado, Aryam 6.0 CUB M 50.0 31.0 2485 2527 +0.64 . 34.5 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 0

Good results are temporary and are enjoyed for only some time. I always want to do better at the next tournament.

The next post will focus on photos from the event.

Rounds 4-6

Round 4

I was paired against IM Panesso Rivera, rated 2351 in this round. Once again, the evening round gave no opportunity for preparation and the round started 20min late. It was the last time that the round did not start on time. This time the lateness was announced along with the pairings. This was the only round that I was out of the roped up top 8 board zone. I was on the 9th board.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.04.21”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Panesso”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “102”]
[EventDate “2011.04.19”]
[SourceDate “2011.04.21”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. e3 c5 4. Bd3 Nc6 5. O-O d5 6. b3 Be7 7. Bb2 O-O 8. Nbd2
b6 9. c4 cxd4 10. exd4 Bb7 11. Rc1 dxc4 12. bxc4 Qd6 13. Re1 Rfd8 14. Qe2 Rac8
15. Ne4 Nxe4 16. Qxe4 g6 17. d5 exd5 18. cxd5 Qxd5 19. Qxd5 Rxd5 20. Be4 Rb5
21. Ba1 Bf8 22. h4 Rc5 23. Rcd1 Na5 24. Ng5 R5c7 25. Be5 Re7 26. Bf6 Ree8 27.
Bd3 Bg7 28. Rxe8+ Rxe8 29. Bb5 Bc6 30. Bxc6 Nxc6 31. Bxg7 Kxg7 32. Rc1 Rc8 33.
Rc3 h6 34. Ne4 Ne7 35. Ra3 Rc7 36. Nd6 Rd7 37. Ne8+ Kf8 38. Nf6 Rd6 39. Ng4 h5
40. Ne3 Nc6 41. g3 Rd2 42. Rc3 Ne5 43. Ra3 a5 44. Ra4 Rb2 45. Ra3 Ke7 46. Kg2
Kd6 47. Nd1 Rd2 48. Nc3 f5 49. Rb3 Kc6 50. Na4 b5 51. Re3 Nc4 0-1

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. e3 c5 4. Bd3 Nc6 5. O-O d5 6. b3 Be7 7. Bb2 O-O 8. Nbd2 b6 9. c4 cxd4 10. exd4 Bb7 11. Rc1 dxc4 12. bxc4 Qd6 13. Re1 Rfd8 14. Qe2 Rac8 15. Ne4 Nxe4 16. Qxe4 g6 

White does not have a clear plan except for playing d5 and sacrificing the pawn. Black’s Bishop will be coming into f6 soon to add some pressure to White’s center. White did not think much about the pawn sacrifice. 17. d5? Objectively wrong but this pawn sacrifice makes White’s play easy while Black attempts to consolidate. 17… exd5 18. cxd5 Qxd5 19. Qxd5 Rxd5 20. Be4 Rb5
21. Ba1 Bf8 Preparing to play Bg7 at the right time. 22. h4 Rc5 23. Rcd1 Na5 24. Ng5

24… R5c7? 24…Rc4 with the idea of getting the rook away from being attacked when White plays Ne4 is better than the text. White maintains some compensation nonetheless. My move runs into other problems. 25. Be5 Re7 26. Bf6? White needed to change gears and try to regain the pawn with 26.Bd6!, after which a White rook enters the 7th rank or Black has to drop the h7 pawn. The text does not give Black many problems. 26… Ree8 27. Bd3 Bg7 28. Rxe8+ Rxe8 29. Bb5 Bc6 30. Bxc6 Nxc6 31. Bxg7 Kxg7 32. Rc1 Rc8 Neutralizing the White rook and preparing to kick the White Knight back with h6. 33. Rc3 h6 34. Ne4 Ne7 35. Ra3 Rc7 36. Nd6 Rd7 37. Ne8+ Kf8 38. Nf6 Rd6 39. Ng4 h5 40. Ne3 The Knight was forced to a less active position. 40… Nc6 41. g3

A crucial moment in the endgame. Black has been able to extinguish White’s initiative, but it is not clear how to make progress. 41… Rd2 An important move that makes White nervous. Black changes gears from passive to active play and White starts making mistakes. 42. Rc3 Ne5 43. Ra3 a5 44. Ra4 White if fishing without a clear plan. 44… Rb2 45. Ra3 Ke7 46. Kg2 Kd6 Within the last five moves, all of Black’s pieces have gained active posts. 47. Nd1 Rd2 48. Nc3 f5 Controlling the important e4 square. 49. Rb3 Kc6 50. Na4 b5 White is getting squeezed 51. Re3 Nc4 0-1 White resigned as he cannot avoid the loss of a piece.

Pretty good game. Always tough to keep a high level of energy for the evening round. I felt like I played the end of the game quite well. My opponent’s incorrect pawn sacrifice provided me with help in the middle game.

Round 5

I was paired against GM Abreu Delgado, rated 2485.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.04.22”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Abreu Delgado, Aryam”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “57”]
[EventDate “2011.04.19”]
[SourceDate “2011.04.22”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Qb3 dxc4 5. Qxc4 Bg7 6. e4 O-O 7. Nf3 a6 8. e5
b5 9. Qb3 Nfd7 10. e6 fxe6 11. Be3 Nf6 12. a4 b4 13. Qxb4 Nc6 14. Qa3 Rb8 15.
Bc4 Na5 16. Ba2 Nd5 17. Nxd5 exd5 18. O-O Nc4 19. Bxc4 dxc4 20. Bg5 Bf6 21. Bh6
Re8 22. Rfe1 Qd5 23. Rac1 Bf5 24. Qc3 Bd3 25. b4 Qd6 26. Bd2 Rbd8 27. Be3 Rb8
28. Bd2 Rbd8 29. Be3 1/2-1/2
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Qb3 dxc4 5. Qxc4 Bg7 6. e4 O-O 7. Nf3 a6 8. e5 b5 9. Qb3 Nfd7 10. e6 fxe6 11. Be3 Nf6 12. a4 b4 13. Qxb4 Nc6 14. Qa3 Rb8 15. Bc4

All of this has been played before in Kozul-Nedev. My opponent comes up with a new idea. 15… Na5!? A novelty. 16. Ba2 Nd5 17. Nxd5 exd5 18. O-O? 18.Qc3 or 18.Ne5 would have offered White chances for an advantage.  18… Nc4! I underestimated the strength of this move. Black will have a weak pawn structure but it will be fully compensated for with the weakness of the b2 pawn and the strength of Black’s two Bishops. 19. Bxc4 dxc4 20. Bg5 Bf6

White should focus on equalizing the position at this point. 21. Bh6?! A dynamic continuation. The more peaceful 21.Bxf6 exf6 22.Qc3 Qd5 23.Nd2, accepting equality, would have been more in agreement with the position. 21… Re8 22. Rfe1 Qd5 23. Rac1 Bf5 24. Qc3 Bd3 Black prepares to squeeze White after playing 25…Rb3

25. b4! Eliminating the weakness of the b2 pawn at once and now threatening to get a lot of play with Ne5 next. 25… Qd6 Black could have tried to play for a win with 25…a5 26.b5 c5 27.bxc6 Rb3 28.Qd2 Qxc6 29.Qxa5, but the position would be risky for all those involved. 26. Bd2 Rbd8 27. Be3 Rb8l 28. Bd2 Rbd8 29. Be3 1/2-1/2 Neither side has a good way to avoid repetition.

A discouraging game. For the second game in a row with White, I was unable to put much pressure on my opponent and had to split the point. This would have to change if I hoped to finish the tournament well.

Round 6

Another evening game. My morning game did not finish all that fast but I was still able to get some good rest. The pairings came up right before the start of the game so I had no preparation for this game either. I was to play IM Martin Del Campo, rated 2415.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2011.04.22”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Martin Del Campo”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “42”]
[EventDate “2011.04.19”]
[SourceDate “2011.04.22”]

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. f4 Bg7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. e5 Nfd7 7. h4 c5 8. h5
cxd4 9. Qxd4 dxe5 10. Qf2 Nf6 11. hxg6 fxg6 12. fxe5 Nh5 13. Qh4 Nc6 14. Be2
Nxe5 15. Ng5 h6 16. Nge4 Bf5 17. g4 Bxe4 18. Nxe4 Nf4 19. Bxf4 Rxf4 20. Nd2 Qd4
21. c3 Qe3 0-1

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. f4 Bg7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. e5 Nfd7 7. h4 c5 8. h5 cxd4 9. Qxd4 dxe5 10. Qf2

10… Nf6 Forces the issue but is not one of Black’s main options in the position. 11. hxg6 fxg6 12. fxe5?! 12…Bc4+! gave White an advantage after 13.Kh8 14.Ng5 Nh5 15.Nf7+ Rxf7 16.Bxf7, but the position would remain quite unclear. 12… Nh5 13. Qh4 Nc6 14. Be2? 14.Bc4+ was needed once again to develop the Bishop with a tempo.

14… Nxe5! Scary at first but the opening of the h-file is not something to fear when White has little resources. 15.Nxe5 Bxe5 16.Bxh5 gxh5 17.Qg5+ Bg7 18.Qxh5 Bf5 gives Black a clear advantage. 15. Ng5 h6 16. Nge4 Bf5! Black prepares to rid himself of the rather useless Bishop. 17. g4? The losing move. 17… Bxe4 18. Nxe4 Nf4! The move my opponent missed. Suddenly White has no attack but his own King is very vulnerable 19. Bxf4 Rxf4 20. Nd2

White resigned as he cannot stop a big loss of material in the near future.

I felt good about this game. I played a very clean game after my 10th move. I spent a long time in the middle game. It is important to pick the spots where to spend time, especially with critical positions.

At 5/6 I was half a point behind the lead with three rounds remaining.

Arrival and Rounds 1-3

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

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

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

The Tournament

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

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

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

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

Round 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round 2

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

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

I joined them, in my sponsor clothing

At the board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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