Inside Toronto Article

Soon after coming back from Khanty-Mansiysk I did an interview with Tim Foran. You can find the article Tim wrote online at–north-yorker-knocks-off-world-s-no-2


Roussel-Roozmon Versus Saric (by IM Thomas Roussel-Roozmon)

I (MB) will provide some background on this game. Canada was to play Croatia in round 6. As you saw from my annotations for my own game against GM Stevic, I lost my game pretty “convincingly”. Our whites were to save the day. Thomas played an exciting and fearless game against GM Saric, rated 2567. This game brought Thomas one (big) step closer to the GM title.

The game has a mix of great moves as well as clear mistakes. Such is life when the game takes up such a complicated battle. It was a very exciting game. Thomas provides in-depth analysis below. It should be noted that everything always looks much easier with a computer engine running in the background;).


<First I will post the game copy-pasted in pgn format and then with comments.

[Event “Olympiades”]
[Site “Khanty-Mansiysk”]
[Date “2010.09.27”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Roussel-Roozmon, Thomas (MI)”]
[Black “Saric, Ivan (GM)”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “E81”]
[WhiteElo “2484”]
[BlackElo “2567”]
[PlyCount “117”]
[EventDate “2010.09.21”]
[EventType “team”]
[EventRounds “11”]
[EventCountry “RUS”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 O-O 5. f3 d6 6. Be3 Nbd7 7. Qd2 c5 8. Nge2
Qa5 9. Rd1 a6 10. dxc5 Nxc5 11. Nd4 Bd7 12. Be2 Rfc8 13. O-O Na4 14. Nb3 Qd8
15. Nxa4 Bxa4 16. Qb4 b5 17. e5 Ne8 18. exd6 exd6 19. cxb5 Qe7 20. Qd2 axb5 21.
Bf2 Qe6 22. Rfe1 Bxb3 23. Bxb5 Bxd1 24. Rxe6 fxe6 25. Qxd1 Bxb2 26. Be3 Rc3 27.
Qb1 Rxe3 28. Qxb2 Ng7 29. Bc6 Raa3 30. Qb8+ Kf7 31. Qc7+ Kf6 32. Qd8+ Kf7 33.
Qc7+ Kf6 34. Qd8+ Ke5 35. Qh8 Ra7 36. Qxh7 Rc3 37. Bb5 Rc1+ 38. Bf1 Rb7 39. Qh6
Rd1 40. Kf2 Nf5 41. Qh8+ Ng7 42. a4 Rd2+ 43. Ke3 Ra2 44. Bb5 Rxg2 45. f4+ Kf6
46. Qa8 Nf5+ 47. Kd3 Rxh2 48. Qxb7 Rh3+ 49. Kd2 Nd4 50. Be8 Kf5 51. Bxg6+ Kg4
52. Qe4 Nb3+ 53. Kd1 Nc5 54. Qd4 Rh1+ 55. Ke2 Rh2+ 56. Kf1 Kf3 57. Bh5+ Rxh5
58. Qd1+ Ke4 59. Qe2+ 1-0


1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 O-O 5. f3 d6 6. Be3 Nbd7 7. Qd2 c5 8. Nge2
Qa5 9. Rd1 a6 10. dxc5 Nxc5 11. Nd4 Bd7 12. Be2 Rfc8 13. O-O Na4 14. Nb3 Qd8
15. Nxa4 Bxa4 16. Qb4

{The first critical moment of the game. Black has a
choice between taking on b3 and accepting a slightly worse position (White
then has a lasting positional advantage with the bishop pair and better pawn
structure), or going for wild tactical complications with


My opponent is a sharp young croatian GM and he does not think twice about the
opportunity of fishing in muddy waters.} 16…b5 !? {I am now faced with a very
difficult practical choice. The two main moves that have to be calculated are
17.c5 and 17.e5, but I also considered the quiet move 17.Rc1, which keeps the
tension. In the game I could not come up with any clear advantage for White,
and even now with Fritz running I am not quite sure if White has anything
convincing in this position. All in all, I’d say that 16…b5!? was a very
good practical choice by my opponent.} (16… Bxb3 17. axb3 white is slightly better (17. Qxb3 white is also slightly better))
(16… Qe8 17. Rc1 white has a comfortable edge)

17. e5

{This move will prove to be unconvincing, but
as I said the other two options do not seem significantly better.} (17. c5 Ne8
18. Qa3 $5 Qd7 19. cxd6 Nxd6 20. Rd2 {Threatening Nc5.} Bxb3 21. Qxb3 Qe6 22.
Qxe6 fxe6 {and black is very close to equality.}) (17. Rc1 {might well be
White’s best option, but deeper analysis is required. Here is a quick
variation.} a5 18. Qa3 Qe8 19. cxb5 Bxb5 20. Bxb5 Qxb5 21. Rxc8+ Rxc8 22. Qxa5
Qd3 23. Qa7 Rc2 {and although White is a pawn up here, Black is very active.
In practice it is very hard to go for this kind of position when playing White.

17… Ne8 18. exd6

(18. f4 a5! 19. Qa3 Rab8 {Black is very
active here.} 20. Rd2 bxc4 21. Qxa4 cxb3 22. axb3 Rb4 23. Qa3 Qc7 with an unclear position)

18…exd6 19. cxb5 Qe7 20. Qd2 axb5 21. Bf2 Qe6

{Second critical moment in the game.
During the last 4-5 moves I have clearly lost control of the position and
Black has taken advantage of my uncertain play to seize the initiative. I am
now faced with some very unpleasant threats against my vulnerable queenside
pawns. At first sight, the pawn structure seems to favour White, but the most
important factor in the position is the activity of Black’s pieces. On top of
this, I am about half an hour down on the clock at this point, with less than
10 minutes left to reach move 40. Under significant pressure, I come up with a
very interesting tactical idea.}

22. Rfe1!? Bxb3 23. Bxb5!

{This intermezzo
is the point of White’s previous move. I am in a sense “sacrificing” two rooks
for a queen with the intention of radically changing the flow of the game
(hopefully in my favor).} Bxd1 ({Black could also dodge the complications by

23… Qd5

{in which case the game would very likely peter out to a
draw following some massive exchanges.} 24. Qxd5 Bxd5 25. Bxe8 Bxa2 26. Bd7 Rc2
27. Rxd6 Rxb2=)

24. Rxe6 fxe6 25. Qxd1

{During the game, I felt like
this position was completely unclear, but I was uncomfortable due to the fact
that I was down to my last minutes on the clock while my opponent still had
around 35-40 minutes. Now I think that objectively White is probably somewhat
better (and Fritz seems to agree). There is one thing for sure : it is much
easier to coordinate a queen with minor pieces than to coordinate two rooks
with minor pieces. Hence white’s position is easier to play in practice,
especially in time trouble.}

25…Bxb2 26. Be3

(26. Qb3!? {was probably stronger.})

26… Rc3 27. Qb1 Rxe3 28. Qxb2 Ng7 29. Bc6 Raa3 30. Qb8+ Kf7 31. Qc7+ Kf6?

{Black is pushing too hard for a win, trying to make use of his advantage on
the clock. It is time for black to settle for a perpetual check with 31…Kg8.}

32. Qd8+?!

{I’m playing with seconds on my clock and at this point I’m just
happy repeating moves and getting closer to move 40.} (32. Qxd6! {is much
stronger, with very serious winning chances for White.})

32… Kf7 33. Qc7+ Kf6
34. Qd8+ Ke5?

{Wow! Now that is just madness. My opponent is going crazy
trying to win this position by taking advantage of my time pressure (he is
also getting very low on the clock at this point). Black’s last move is
horrible, putting the black king in a very ackward spot, especially
considering the misplaced knight on g7. At this point, I felt like there
should be many ways of winning tactically for White, but with 30 seconds on
the clock I could not find the most accurate moves.}

35. Qh8?

(35. Qf8! {is completely winning. The ensuing king chase will cost black his knight and
the game :} Nf5 36. Qh8+! Kf4 37. g3+ Kg5 38. h4+ Kh6 39. Qf8+ Kh5 40. Qf6
Kh6 41. g4 where white is winning) (35. f4+! {wins by force as well.} Kxf4 36. Qxd6+ e5 37. g3+
Kg5 38. Qe7+ Kh6 39. g4! where white is winning)

35… Ra7 36. Qxh7 Rc3 37. Bb5?!

(37. Ba4!{was stronger.})

37… Rc1+ 38. Bf1 Rb7 39. Qh6 Rd1 40. Kf2??

{Here comes the classical 40th move blunder…} (40. Qe3+ white is slightly better) (40. g4 =)

40… Nf5??

{…my blunder was immediately answered by a blunder from my opponent !} (40… Rb2+ 41. Be2
Kf6! {was winning by force :} 42. Qh8 g5! 43. Qd8+ Kf7 44. Qc7+ Kg6 {
followed by Rdd2 and white loses the bishop and the game.})

41. Qh8+ Ng7

{White is now firmly back in control of the position. Black does not have any
coordination between pieces and the weakness of his king mixed with the passed
a-pawn is just too much to handle.}

42. a4

(42. g4!? {to further restrict the
black knight, was also very interesting.})

42… Rd2+ 43. Ke3 Ra2 44. Bb5 Rxg2??

{Just a bad tactical oversight that loses on the spot.} (44… Ra3+ 45. Kf2
Ra2+ 46. Kg3 g5 {and I still have some technical problems to face before I can
win this position.})

45. f4+ Kf6 46. Qa8!

{A simple but quite aesthetic
tactic. White wins a full rook and the game. Black could resign at this point.}
Nf5+ 47. Kd3 Rxh2 ({Black can’t even sack on b5 because of mate on f8 !} 47…
Rxb5 48. Qf8#) 48. Qxb7 Rh3+ 49. Kd2 Nd4 50. Be8 Kf5 51. Bxg6+ Kg4 52. Qe4 Nb3+
53. Kd1 Nc5 54. Qd4 Rh1+ 55. Ke2 Rh2+ 56. Kf1 Kf3 57. Bh5+ Rxh5 58. Qd1+ Ke4
59. Qe2+ 1-0

Olympiad Pictures

I’d like to thank Shaomin Yuan (Yuanling’s mother) for all the pictures below.

Leaving the plane in Khanty-Mansiysk

The “Olympic Hotel” complex

The hotel restaurant, where meals are complementary for members of the teams

The team in front of the playing hall






This girls scheming. Not sure what they are scheming

Magnus Carlsen


Hikaru Nakamura


Most of the team at dinner


Yuanling and Karpov

Dina and Iulia trying to fit in

GM Elect=Thomas





Olympiad Summary

Ukraine won the Open Section of the Olympiad quite convincingly with 19 out of 22 possible match points. Ivanchuk and Efimenko were exceptional. Ivanchuk started with 6/6 against strong opposition! You can find the team stats at

Second place went to Russia 1 with 18 match points. I am sure that Russia was hoping for more, but it was just not in the cards for them as they could only tie 2-2 against Spain in the last round. The big disappointment for Russia was when they lost to Hungary in round 5. The team just doesn’t seem to be gelling in the last 4 Olympiads, even though they are extremely strong on all boards.

Israel took third place by tie-breaks over Hungary, each had 17 points. Israel was led by Super-GM Gelfand on top board. GM Sutovsky had a spectacular performance, almost reaching 2900 on second board.

The Women’s Section was really a battle for second place. Russia 1 stole the show by winning all 11 team matches! They even beat Russia 2 in the last round to take away any hope of a medal for the second team. A very convincing win, achieved largely due to the Kosintseva sisters, each performing over 2600 on the top two boards!

China got 2nd place with 18 match points. Ju Wenjun stole the show for the team by scoring 9.5/11 on second board! She won her last 4 games…

There was a six way tie for 3rd place. Georgia took the medal on tie-break, with all teams tied with 16 points. Dzagnidze Nana had the best performance on the team.

In the end of the day, this blog is about the Canadian team, so I will give reports about our teams now.  The National Team did pretty well. We tied for 30th and finished 37th on tie-break. Our pre-tournament ranking was 53rd. There was some talk about the merit of the players on the team. Well, we did well. We never had any conflicts. Everybody is young and can gain a lot from the experience. Thinking about the future, this could be the line-up of the future.

I had the task of defending first board. This was my second Olympiad do this. I did quite poorly in 2008, at least by my own standards. I was hoping this time would be different. I finished with 6/11 in a field that included 8 GMs. 6 of them were rated higher than me. It’s a great experience. I haven’t played anybody higher rated than me since the Montreal International last year. Can’t get experience like this in most other tournaments. This felt like a different kind of chess from Barcelona and Nuremberg. Intensity is always higher against stronger opposition.

I think I could have played better. I feel like I should have won the 4th round and drawn the 9th round. Outside of that, I didn’t really miss many points. My win against Topalov is a very memorable one. My two other wins against GMs are also very interesting games with sacrifices.

My three losses with black are great learning experiences. My openings are just not there yet. That’s what I need to work on. I survive against lower rated players but get into trouble with players over 2600 with black.

I felt like I played some “fun chess”, as opposed to “scared chess”. A lot of interesting and creative ideas in all the games. It was enjoyable to play. Not too much grinding down in the endgames as was the case in a lot of previous tournaments.

I was also happy to play all 11 games. This was my goal from the beginning. Burning out was a serious concern, but I think my last round game shows that was not the case. It is always nice to finish a tournament off in a good way. Enough about me though.

Thomas had one of the best performances of his career. He was rock solid and undefeated, scoring a superb 7/10 on 2nd board.  He was Mr. consistency. We had some trouble playing black on every board except for the second one. Thomas will be rated 2500 after this tournament.

Thomas and I were an interesting duo. I play a lot more risky and he plays a lot more peaceful chess. For the two of us on the top two boards, we never lost a “mini-match” against any team. In fact, we scored 1.5/2 against Topalov and Cheparinov! It was really thanks to Thomas not losing games though…

Leonid showed that he was a finisher after a tough start which included 3 consecutive losses. He went on a good streak that meant that he would play the last 6 games. He started playing rock solid and finished at approximately his own rating strength. Leonid finished with 4.5/9.

Artiom had a tough finish, losing his last 2 games. Artiom played the least games on the team, playing in only 6 of the matches. Artiom had a good run in the beginning, showing that he can beat weaker players consistently. He won the match against Mongolia for us, which was big. He finished the event with 3/6.

Nikolay only drew 1 game in the tournament. He took some risks which paid off sometimes, but sometimes they didn’t. He came up huge against Denmark and Croatia. This was great to see. He finished with 4.5/8.

Towards the end of the tournament, it was clear that the top 3 boards were playing more solid chess. It was very unfortunate that Artiom and Nikolay lost a lot of games on last boards in the end of the event. They both gained very valuable experience though, which will be very important in tournaments to come. I look forward to seeing them progress.

The man behind the scenes was FM Yuri Ochkoos. The job of the captain is to take care of everything except for the actual playing of chess. Yuri did exactly that. He was the architect behind all of the lineups. I feel like Yuri was acting differently from previous captains in that it was all about the team. It was not about people’s personal feelings. It was about scoring the best in every single round.

The idea of benching players 2 games in a row is something I haven’t seen practiced before, but Yuri had no problems doing this. After 6 rounds, there was a very serious fear of Leonid just being unable to get back into it. In the last 5 rounds, he played exceptional chess. Whatever Yuri told Leonid worked.

Yuri also did the small things. After my win against Topalov, Yuri bought champagne to celebrate. He maintained a good feel on the team throughout the event. He tries to always stay cheery. It’s contagious. It was clear that in the end of the day he would have the final say on lineups. Yuri also kept Thomas exceptionally calm in the days when a GM title was at stake.

For the Women’s Team, Yuri was available for preparation for the games. This definitely helped some of the girls.

Yuri was certainly a great addition for the team, and the whole team appreciates all his efforts.

The Women’s Team finished 67th, which is a bit lower than their pre-tournament ranking. It wasn’t easy for them, as their Olympiad experience was minimal. They all did their best and can be happy with the effort. I am sure that if the same team is sent in 2 years the girls will do better.

All talk about the Women’s Team needs to start with Yuanling. She scored 7.5/11, with a performance of 2271. She missed the WGM by not winning the last round. It’s a tough way to finish. It’s always hard to finish the tournament with a loss and it leaves a sour taste. Yuanling leads by example. She works very hard at the board and she is a real competitor.

Yuanling’s 4 straight wins in rounds 7-10 are very impressive. It’s never easy to win games. This streak included 3 games against higher rated opponents. Her play was generally very impressive. The fact that Yuanling played all 11 games is a big thing. For a 16 year old to be the clear leader of the team is a great thing. It is also a sign of great potential.

Dina’s performance on the team was quite good. Dina scored a strong 5.5/9 on second board. She seems to play her best at Olympiads. She played attacking chess and held second board well. This being Dina’s third Olympiad, made her the most experienced player on the Women’s Team and Dina made the other girls feel more comfortable.

Iulia scored 3.5/9 on third board. Liza scored 3.5/8 on 4th board. Dalia scored 3/7 on 5th board. All are respectable scores for the first time Olympians. They all gained some much needed experience. There was some fear on the last boards of the team. The competition at the Olympiads is very intense. Everybody is used to winning in their own nations and nobody will lose without a fight. Nothing comes easy. That could be the real difference with the Olympiad.

I’d like to thank everybody who has been following the Olympiad and cheering for us on behalf of the whole team. It was an enjoyable experience for all those involved.

You can find our team’s statistics at:

I will try to round up a favourite game analyzed by each of the players to post on my blog. Thomas already analyzed his. That’s to come…

It will be a long trip back home… It feels like it’s time to get back.

To follow are some pictures from the Olympiad…

Round 8-11

Round 8

We were playing the underrated Mongolians in round 8. We came in higher rated on every board. I was playing a 2460 untitled (!?) player on top board with black. Here is the game.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2010.09.29”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Gundavaa, B.”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “18”]
[EventDate “2010.09.21”]
[SourceDate “2010.09.29”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 Ne4 8. Bd2
Nxc3 9. Bxc3 Be4 1/2-1/2

The game looks boring. I know. A GM draw. I hate it. I know. Well there was a lot more going in my head than that. I will get you through the motions.

3.Nf3 was a surprise. My opponent usually plays 3.g3, for which I prepared very indepth. I was guessing my opponent wanted to force a specific line of the benoni. I already lost 2 games with black in the tournament, because I haven’t been playing solid.

Based on those ideas, I chose the solid line I played. But then when we actually got to about move 8 I was becoming a bit upset at myself. I was not sure as to how I was planning to play the line for a win and other ideas were taking over. This was the perfect game to take a rest day. Save some fuel for the last 3 days.

I really wanted to play all 11 games. But 11 hard fought games take their toll on a chess player. I give it everything I have every single game. A draw here is not a big loss. It kills a black for the team and allows for the whites to win the match.

Based on these reasons I decided to just offer a draw and go take my day off. I saw this as better than just asking to sit out, simply because I killed a black.

There rest of the team did their thing. Sort of. The news on the team was that Thomas was in line for a GM norm. The thing about a GM norm at the Olympiad is that it counts as 2. Thomas already had 1. His live rating was at 2500 already, so a norm would clinch him the title.

Thomas needed 1 out of 2 against not very strong opposition for the title. The pressure was on. This meant that Thomas was not too pressured to go for a win today, even though a win would clinch the title even if he loses the next game. Thomas drew his game quickly, soon after me.

Leonid drew his game with black and so it was all up to Artiom to decide our fate with the white pieces. He certainly did not disappoint by winning his game convincingly against his GM opponent. Matches where a player decides the fate of the team definitely affect personal confidence, and this was great for Artiom.

2.5-1.5. It wasn’t pretty but we got the desired result.

The girls were playing Norway. Yuanling and Dalia won their games. Dina drew and Liza lost. Solid 2.5-1.5 win against the higher ranked Norwegians.

Round 9

We were paired against the 17th ranked Czech Republic, led by GMs Navara and Laznicka. Navara is rated about 2720, and Laznicka is currently at 2690. But Laznicka has been beating everybody. To see how he plays, check out his game from yesterday against Nigel Short.

Nigel Short is a great player. Laznicka has been making great players look bad in the last year, when he has skyrocketed to become an elite player.

The decision for this round was of whether to put Thomas up or not. Putting Thomas up against Navara with black didn’t look very promising, that would look like a suicide mission, which I was looking forward to taking. And I really didn’t want to sit. Playing white against Laznicka was a realistic option, but a dangerous one. Thomas would only need a draw though.

In the end, the decision was made for Thomas to sit out and take the day off. The idea of regaining energy was an important one, after which he could potentially go for it in the last 2 rounds, depending on pairings.

I was to play GM Navara. The stronger the opponent the better. Here is the game.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2010.09.30”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Navara”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B66”]
[PlyCount “91”]
[EventDate “2010.09.21”]
[SourceDate “2010.09.30”]

1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 c5 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e4 Nc6 5. Be2 Qc7 6. O-O a6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4
Bb4 9. Bg5 Bxc3 10. Bxf6 gxf6 11. bxc3 d6 12. Qd2 Bd7 13. Qh6 Ke7 14. f4 Qa5
15. Kh1 Rag8 16. f5 e5 17. Nc2 Nb8 18. Nb4 Bc6 19. Qe3 Nd7 20. Rfd1 Nc5 21. Bf3
h5 22. h4 Rg3 23. Kh2 Rhg8 24. Rd5 Qd8 25. Rad1 Bxd5 26. Nxd5+ Kd7 27. Qh6 Kc8
28. Qxf6 R8g7 29. Rd2 Kd7 30. Rb2 Qxf6 31. Nxf6+ Ke7 32. Nxh5 Rxf3 33. gxf3 Rh7
34. Ng3 Rxh4+ 35. Kg1 Kd7 36. Nf1 Kc6 37. Rg2 Rh7 38. Ne3 Rh3 39. Rg7 Rxf3 40.
Nd5 b5 41. Kg2 Rf4 42. Rxf7 bxc4 43. Rc7+ Kb5 44. Nxf4 exf4 45. Rxc5+ Kxc5 46.
f6 1-0

We got into an interesting position in the middlegame, where I wanted to take advantage of white’s bad pawn structure. My opponent wanted to mate me. We had our different plans. It was a very interesting game throughout.

The critical point in the game was the 40th move.

I am close to getting mated and I have seconds left on the clock. It’s time to make a move before I get 30min added. I calculated 40…b5? 41.Rxf7 bxc4 and I appear to be playing for a win due to the weakness of the e4 pawn. Right after playing my move, I see that my rook is trapped after 41.Kg2! after which I am completely lost.

40…Kd7! 41.Rxf7 Ke8 42.Re7 Kf8 leads to a completely equal endgame where the score-sheets would probably be signed after the pawns and the knights are traded off. I saw the line, but I was already playing for a win. To miss something as simple as my rook getting trapped is mind-boggling. It’s hard to explain. I was on the ropes for some time in the game and I had been struggling with the clock for a while. Deadly blunder though, which may have cost us the match.

This might sound strange, but I really enjoyed my game. Not my 40th move of course, but everything before it. To have a very tense game against a world class player and to be able to compete on an even level felt great. It was a painful loss in the end, but the process was very enjoyable.

Leonid shocked some people by beating Laznicka with white. Leonid was down a pawn in the middle game for some compensation, when his opponent blundered the exchange, and with it the house. Leonid converted without any difficulties.

Artiom lost to Hracek without much of a fight. Hracek is a world class player and Artiom does not have much experience against players of that caliber.

Nikolay had a nail-biter. There is a very real chance that he fell apart after seeing that I lost. After I lost it was clear that we are losing the match. Nikolay had a drawn endgame where he needed to play accurately to hold the draw in a rook endgame down a pawn. Soon after my loss he fell apart. I feel like with me drawing he would be able to do the same, and the match would be tied. It happens. We did get really lucky on 2nd board.

The girls were matched up against the higher rated Montenegro. Yuanling and Iulia won their games, while Dina and Dalia lost theirs. All games were won by white.

Round 10

We were paired against the higher ranked Khazakhstan. The question of the day was whether Thomas should play, and if so then on what board. I really didn’t want to sit out, as usual. It was decided that Thomas would be playing 2nd board with black. He is rock solid. Everybody knows he can manage a draw. The only question was about pressure. There would be lots on him this day.

I was to play GM Khazgaleyev with the white pieces. He is rated 2620. Here is the game.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2010.09.30”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Kazhgaleyev”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “A00”]
[PlyCount “107”]
[EventDate “2010.09.21”]
[SourceDate “2010.09.30”]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3 a6 5. Nf3 b5 6. cxd5 cxd5 7. Ne5 e6 8. Bd3
Be7 9. O-O Bb7 10. f4 Nbd7 11. Qf3 b4 12. Ne2 O-O 13. Ng3 a5 14. Bd2 g6 15.
Rac1 Rc8 16. Rxc8 Qxc8 17. Rc1 Qb8 18. Nc6 Bxc6 19. Rxc6 Rc8 20. Rxc8+ Qxc8 21.
Qd1 Nb6 22. b3 Qb7 23. Qc2 Nc8 24. Be1 Nd6 25. h3 Kg7 26. Kh1 Bf8 27. Ne2 Nf5
28. Bf2 h5 29. Ng1 Ne4 30. Nf3 Nfd6 31. Be1 Be7 32. Ne5 Nf5 33. Bxe4 dxe4 34.
Bf2 Bd6 35. Qc6 Qxc6 36. Nxc6 Bc7 37. g4 Nd6 38. g5 Nb5 39. Be1 Kf8 40. Kg2 Ke8
41. Kf2 Kd7 42. Ne5+ Bxe5 43. dxe5 Kc6 44. Ke2 Nc7 45. Kd1 Kb5 46. Kc2 a4 47.
Bd2 Nd5 48. Kd1 Ne7 49. Be1 Nc6 50. Kc2 Na5 51. Bd2 Nb7 52. Be1 Nc5 53. Bg3 Nd3
54. Kd2 1/2-1/2

I really didn’t get anything out of the opening, which wasn’t a great feeling. My opponent’s position was rock solid.

This was an important position in the game. I played 18.Nc6, hoping that the two bishops would somehow prevail, quite unrealistically. The alternative was 18.Bb5 Rc8! 19.Qd1 Rc7=, where 18… Rc8 works due to Qc7 tricks following the rook exchange if white takes on d7. This just shows how solid black is.

And we kept going and going. I am pretty sure my opponent was also playing for a win. The position was equal throughout.

This was the final pawn structure in the game. The position is dead drawn. My opponent’s knight can jump around, but as long as I keep my bishop on the right squares, nothing can be achieved. The kings can’t invade the opponent’s territory. We agreed to a draw soon after.

Thomas drew his game without any serious problems, to become Canada’s newest GM Elect! Congratulations to Thomas!

Leonid beat his GM opponent very convincingly with the white pieces. On last board, Nikolay ran into some serious trouble in the opening and was never quite able to wiggle his way out.

2-2 is a respectable result. We were of course hoping for more, but that’s not always achievable. This was fair. The main goal of the round was achieved: Thomas’ GM title! We were going into the free day on a high note.

The girls were up against England, led by IM Houska, rated 2426. The rest of the English team is substantially weaker. Yuanling had the tough challenge of battling with the experienced IM. Yuanling did not just prevail, but she won the game without any doubts in very convincing fashion. Great game by Yuanling, who is playing completely fearless chess. Check out the game.

Iulia was able to draw on second board, but Liza and Dalia lost on bottom boards. A respectable result for the girls against an experienced team. But wow Yuanling! Just wow!

Round 11

Everybody was rested for the last round, following the free day. We were to play Montenegro, ranked just below us. All their players are in the vicinity of 2450-2480. They are led by GM Djukic, who has mainly been rated around 2500 in recent years.

We were going for the crush. I knew I had to step up on top board with the white pieces. Here is the game.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2010.10.02”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Djukic”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “D80”]
[PlyCount “65”]
[EventDate “2010.09.21”]
[SourceDate “2010.10.02”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. h3 O-O 6. Bg5 c6 7. Nf3 e5 8. d5 a5
9. Be2 Na6 10. O-O Bd7 11. Nd2 Kh8 12. a3 Qb8 13. f4 exf4 14. Bxf4 Nc5 15. Qe1
Re8 16. e5 Ng8 17. exd6 Nd3 18. Bxd3 Rxe1 19. Raxe1 Qa7+ 20. Kh1 Qb6 21. Nde4
h6 22. Be3 Qd8 23. Rxf7 Qe8 24. Rxg7 Kxg7 25. Bd4+ Kh7 26. Ng5+ hxg5 27. Rxe8
Rxe8 28. Ne4 Kh6 29. Nc5 cxd5 30. Nxd7 dxc4 31. Bxc4 Re4 32. Bc3 Rxc4 33. Ne5

This was one of the more beautiful games I have ever played. The opening was a King’s Indian. I felt like a guy with a bag full of tricks before the game, as I chose to play a third line against the King’s Indian in this tournament. I thought this would throw my opponent off preparation. Things did not work out that way.

My opponent blitzed his first 19 moves, after which he still had an hour and 33min. Yes, we start with an hour and 30min. I was left with about 50min. I was a bit confused, mainly because I didn’t think his moves were strong enough to be preparation. It might have just been a game strategy to play fast. Well, here are some comments.

My options include Bh2 and exd6 in this position. I started calculating 17.Bh2 in this position but my position doesn’t look too convincing due to my light squared bishop in anything that arises.

I am not supposed to play 17.exd6 because of 17…Nd3 and the captuing of my strong dark squared bishop. I had other plans and the game continued 17.exd6 Nd3 18.Bxd3! Rxe1 19.Rae1 Qa7 20.Kh1 Qb6 21.Nde4. The idea behind my last move is to counter 21…Qxb2 with 22.Rb1 Qa3 23.Bc1! trapping the queen.

I sacrificed the queen for a rook, knight and pawn. But my pawn on d6 is deadly. All of my pieces are active. How can it not be good for me? It can’t be bad. The variations I calculated told the same story.

My opponent’s 21…h6 may have been the losing move, after which 22.Be3! wins the f7 pawn. My opponent may have missed 22…Bd4 23.c5! winning the bishop while playing his 21st move.

My opponent is struggling for air. I am winning in more than one way. Nobody would be jealous of black’s position here.

I played 24.Rxg7! Kxg7 25.Bd4 Kh7 26.Ng5 hxg5 27.Rxe8 Rxe8 28.Ne4 with a completely winning endgame. None of black’s pieces can move. My pawn on d6 is still unstoppable. Added to all of this, I already have two pawns for the exchange. The position is completely winning. If black tries 25…Kf7 then 26.Rf1 Bf5 27.g4, winning material. Black’s pieces can never move. It is complete board domination throughout.

Time for a final punch. A lot of moves win here for white. I chose what I saw as the simplest one. I played 32.Bc3! Rxc4 33.Ne5. My opponent cant stop d7 and Nf7 and will have to give up his rook for the pawn. Very smooth way to finish the game off.

This game was a nice way to finish the tournament. It’s even pretty for the eyes.

I finished the game very quickly, and I was hoping this would give the team a boost. Thomas drew with the black pieces without too many difficulties. Leonid was pressing the whole game but was unable to pull out the full point.

Artiom transposed into a Dragon in the opening. His position seemed to be completely fine but he then ran into some trouble with some risky play and then lost.

2-2. We were all hoping for more, but it just didn’t happen. I am sure our opponents weren’t thrilled either.

This was a very important day for the girls, and especially Yuanling. Yuanling had won 4 games in a row. That’s exceptional! She didn’t do it against weak players either. All of them were titled players. On this day, Yuanling could make a WGM norm with a win.

She pushed hard for a win, in a position where it is just hard to play for a win. Her position started falling apart and she lost the endgame. Unfortnate way to end it for Yuanling, who had a phenomenal tournament.

Dina won a beauty, sacrificing one piece. She claims it is two pieces, but it was really just one piece that was sacrified;). A very impressive game that shows her style. Attack and kill.

Iulia and Liza lost, losing the match to Venezuela 3-1.

A summary report of the Olympiad to come…

Round 7- Bluvshtein-Topalov

We were paired against Bulgaria for round 7. I was very excited when I saw the pairings. It’s a rare opportunity to play a 2800. The best chance to get this is in an Olympiad. I was actually scared that Bulgaria would bench their superstar. The idea of playing Topalov erased most of my thoughts about losing the previous game. Short memory is key at tournaments.

The great thing about playing a top level player is that you should not be scared of losing. I always look forward to the challenge of a higher rated player. The #2 ranked player in the world is certainly somebody I was excited about playing.

After seeing the team pairings, I started preparing. With over 2000 games in the database, I knew preparation would not be straight-forward. Topalov is able to play lots of openings, most of which (if not all) he knows much better than me.

I woke up in the morning to see that I will be playing Topalov. This is when my preparation got a bit more intense. I had a feeling that my opponent would be playing the King’s Indian. After all, this is the opening that is known to be the most double edged of them all. The Grunfeld and Nimzo are the less likely and less sharp options.

It would be suicidal to go for a main-stream idea against one of the best players in the world in an opening. I thought it might also be dangerous to play something I have played before. So I decided to dig up something new. It was time for a new line.

The idea of playing the exchange King’s Indian line, which is very drawish with the queens off, came up somewhere on the team. But this is a rare opportunity to challenge myself against the very best. So what if I draw in a boring way? I am not actually saying I would be able to draw in the exchange line, because Topalov is Topalov. I am sure he has got his own ideas to play for a win in the exchange line. If he beats me in a sharp game, so be it. I want to see Topalov in action, and on this day I would have the best seat in the house. Here’s the game.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2010.09.28”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Bluvshtein”]
[Black “Topalov”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “E60”]
[PlyCount “83”]
[EventDate “2010.09.21”]
[SourceDate “2010.09.28”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. h3 Na6 7. Bg5 c6 8. Be2 e5
9. d5 h6 10. Be3 Nh5 11. dxc6 bxc6 12. Qd2 Nf4 13. O-O f5 14. Bxf4 exf4 15.
exf5 Bxf5 16. Rad1 Rb8 17. Nd4 Bd7 18. Bf3 Qb6 19. Nb3 Be5 20. Ne4 Rbd8 21. Qe2
c5 22. Rd2 Rfe8 23. Rfd1 Bf5 24. Nxd6 Bxd6 25. Rxd6 Rxe2 26. Rxd8+ Kf7 27. Bxe2
Ke7 28. Bg4 Bxg4 29. hxg4 Qxd8 30. Rxd8 Kxd8 31. Kf1 Ke7 32. Ke2 Kd6 33. a3 Nb8
34. Kf3 Ke5 35. Nxc5 g5 36. Nb3 Nd7 37. Ke2 Kd6 38. f3 Ne5 39. Na5 Kc5 40. b4+
Kd4 41. c5 Kd5 42. Kd2 1-0

I played the line with 5.Nf3 followed by 6.h3. I have never played the line before, but I have looked at it quite in depth before as a possible way to battle the King’s Indian. I thought the element of surprise would be important.

We got this position early on in the opening. I chose 11.dxc6!? bxc6 12.Qd2. The idea was to scatter the black pawns and later use them as targets. I thought this would cause some problems for black.

Here I played 19.Nb3 with the idea of later playing Ne4. A potentially stronger alternative is 19.Na4, where black’s queen should probably go to c7. I was trying to avoid putting the knight on the edge of the board though.

By this point I already didn’t have that much time, probably about 25min. Topalov has shown why he is Topalov and has  steered up the position in an unclear direction. Black should probably play 23…Ba4 or 23…Be6 and the position is unclear. White might still be a bit better after 23…Ba4 24.h4. Black still has a lot of weaknesses.

I was shocked to see my opponent play 23…Bf5? and went into calculating mode. The first thought that came to my mind was “what am I missing?” It’s fair enough, I had calculated that 24.Nxd6 would be close to winning for me. After some recalculating I had to just play it. Topalov immediately started shaking his head and I knew I didn’t miss anything. I got 2 rooks and a pawn for the queen just as expected after 24…Bxd6 25.Rxd6 Rxe2 26.Rxd8 Kf7 27.Bxe2.

This was an important position for me psychologically. Truth be told, I didn’t want to play Bg4 and go into a knight endgame. I knew that would require some technique against one of the world’s best. But I couldn’t find any other clear path to a winning position. After some thinking, I convinced myself that I would win the knight endgame and went for it after 28.Bg4, forcing my opponent to play 28…Bxg4 29.hxg4 Qxd8 30.Rxd8 Kxd8. I am up a pawn and the c5 pawn is weak.

The arising knight endgame has different plans. It is important to keep my pieces active as well as contain black’s pieces. I tried to bring my king in to f3 but also made sure I had time to play a3 at the right time to not allow Nb4. The game continued 31.Kf1 Ke7 32.Ke2 Kd6 33.a3 Nb8 34.Kf3 Ke5.

In this position I was just making sure that I can take the pawn bravely, and so I did.The conversion was pretty smooth as well.

This is the final position. I was a bit surprised that my opponent resigned. Not because my position is not winning, but just that I thought he would play on looking for tricks. But realistically, there is no stopping my pawns and no better counterplay than attacking the g2 pawn, which just helps me push my pawns.

I was getting very excited towards the end of the game. It is not everyday that I get a winning position against Topalov, so excitement/nervousness is normal. I don’t feel like those emotions are worsening my play. The excitement of actually playing Topalov keeps me at the board. Why would I look at some other top level player’s games when I can look at my own game against Topalov?

Topalov resigned politely. I am not sure what else to say about his resignation. He said that 23…Bf5 was of course the critical mistake, and 23…Ba4 should have been played instead.

The game is a milestone in my chess career, but I can’t say that I am too impressed with my play. Topalov did not have his best day. Beating Topalov is still beating Topalov, but I don’t feel like I did anything special in this game. I played well, but that’s about it. The game just showed that top level players can have off days. One critical mistake and the game was over. On a good day for the Former World Champion, it would be a different story. What the game did show is that I can compete with the very best.

A great day for me!

This day was not just about me, the rest of the guys had their work cut out for them too against the 8th ranked Bulgaria. Thomas drew Cheparinov, Topalov’s second, with the black pieces in what looked like an effortless game. Thomas was never in any trouble and simply equalized and never lost the thread of the position. SOLID.

Leonid sort of did the same thing against Georgiev, rated 2685, with the white pieces. Leonid just played very solid and never gave the GM any chances. It was important for Leonid to get back on track after some tough losses.

Nikolay had a tough day and just got crushed by the young IM Berbatov, who appears to be the next hope of Bulgarian chess.

Overall, phenomenal day for the team! Coming in nobody thought we had any chances. It was time for the team to make some history. Team morale definitely went up.

The women’s team played 2-2 against Singapore. Yuanling and Liza won, while Iulia and Dalia lost. All games were decided with white winning.

Until this round, I wasn’t having a good tournament. My win over Topalov was certainly a boost. I got a lot of congratulations following the game in all forms. The more notable ones were from some 2700s that I knew from before.

Probably the most notable one was from Magnus Carlsen, who I also know from before. Magnus came up to me during the next day to congratulate me, after which I told him I was making sure he is still number 1 in the world. He said that it was nice to see another 2800 losing, and that it wasn’t only him. Magnus had actually lost in the 7th round as well. For those who don’t know Magnus, he’s just a great guy who happens to be the number 1 player in the world.

One game doesn’t make a tournament and I knew there was more to come.

Round 6

Today the team was paired against Croatia. Croatia is a solid team, with GMs on all boards. We were out-rated across the board. That’s fine. I felt like I should be trying to play something risky for a win, even though I was playing black against GM Stevic, rated just over 2600. So I chose the Pirc.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2010.09.27”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Stevic”]
[Black “Bluvshtein”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B07”]
[PlyCount “121”]
[EventDate “2010.09.21”]
[SourceDate “2010.09.27”]

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Bg5 Bg7 5. Qd2 h6 6. Bh4 g5 7. Bg3 Nh5 8. O-O-O
Nc6 9. Qe3 e5 10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. Bxe5 Bxe5 12. g3 c6 13. Nf3 Qb6 14. Qd2 Be6 15.
Nxe5 dxe5 16. Qd6 Qa5 17. Rd5 Qd8 18. Qxe5 Qf6 19. Qxf6 Nxf6 20. Rd2 Ke7 21. f4
Rad8 22. Bd3 gxf4 23. gxf4 Rhg8 24. f5 Bc8 25. e5 Nd5 26. Nxd5+ Rxd5 27. Re1
Rg4 28. Rf2 Rdd4 29. b3 b5 30. f6+ Kf8 31. Re3 Be6 32. c3 Rdf4 33. Rxf4 Rxf4
34. Be4 Bd7 35. b4 Ke8 36. Kd2 Kd8 37. Kd3 Kc7 38. Rg3 Be6 39. Rg7 Kd7 40. Bg6
Ke8 41. Rg8+ Kd7 42. Be4 Bf5 43. Bxf5+ Rxf5 44. Ke4 Rh5 45. Rf8 Rh4+ 46. Kf5
Rh5+ 47. Kf4 Ke6 48. Re8+ Kd5 49. Rd8+ Kc4 50. Rd7 Rh4+ 51. Kg3 Rh5 52. Rd4+
Kxc3 53. e6 fxe6 54. f7 Kxd4 55. f8=Q Rg5+ 56. Kh4 Rd5 57. Qxh6 e5 58. Qxc6 e4
59. Kg3 e3 60. Kf4 e2 61. Qe6 1-0

I got into some serious trouble in the opening. It wasn’t pretty. My sense of danger in this opening hasn’t kicked in yet. Hopefully it will, soon.

In the position above, white has the idea of playing Na4-c5. But white can force something much stronger. 16.Qd6! is killer. I saw the move some moves ago, but I simply didn’t realize how bad life would turn out to be for me here. If I reply with 16…Qxf2, 17.Nd5! is crushing. I took a long time and found a way to “only” be down a pawn with 16…Qa5 17.Rd5! Qd8 18.Qxe5 Qf6. I was hoping the pawn structure would create some problems for white to win.

White later started to advance his pawns. I was hoping to get some piece activity as compensation. I was generally short on time but was still showing some good resistance.

It’s easy to make good choices when the bad ones are really bad. 25…Nd7 26.f6! just looks crushing for white. Black’s only chance is to continue 26…Ke6 and go on a goose chase with the king. I decided on 25…Nd5 and actually got some piece activity.

The white f and e-pawns proved to be too much and I lost the game in a rook endgame. My opponent still had to play quite precisely though.

I can’t hope to draw a 2600 player after such a poor opening, and the game was realistically over very early on. Some technique was needed but the result was never in real doubt.

The team did great. Thomas and Nikolay won their games with white against solid 2560 GMs. Leonid was ground down in a position where he had a queen for a rook and bishop, but it was his opponent’s passed pawn that was the real problem.

A great result overall. I wish I would have done better and not let the team down, but that’s a part of team competition. It is important that the other guys get their confidence up. I’ll be fine one way or another.

The girls had a tough pairing against Belarus. They lost 3.5-0.5. Belarus has a very solid team with all titled players. Liza was able to get the only draw on last board.