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.

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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.