Friday, 29 July 2011

Dutch Open 2011 - Days 8 & 9

"I play honest and I play to win. If I lose, I take my medicine."
Bobby Fischer

"Do you have all your norms now? You do? Well then, everyone, we have a new International Master: Moulthun Ly! (Applause)"
The host at the Dutch Open Closing Ceremony

by Junta
Round 8

Junta-Andrew: I surprised him a little in the opening, but didn't play so accurately and was outplayed. It can be a depressing experience, losing to a travelling mate in an overseas tournament, but whoever plays better on the day wins. The chess world is waiting for Andrew to hurry up and get his rating up to where it should be so you don't lose as many points when you lose to him...

A few boards above us, Moulthun was playing a tense game against GM Deepan Chakkravarthy.
Before the game which Moulthun achieved his IM title through
The game began with an intense opening battle in the King's Indian Defence, with both players striving for the initiative - in the end, White pushed a bit too hard for the win and Black capitalised.
The position where White played 27.e5? losing a pawn to ...c6
40...h5-h4+ 0-1, from Black's point of view
This took Moulthun's live rating above 2400 for the first time, and with his three IM norms already achieved, he will officially be IM Ly from September when the title is ratified. If he scores a double norm in his next tournament, he will have 6 norms at the time of ratification - overkill?

Although we ate healthy and well in Amsterdam , cooking dinner most nights (once we got started), during a tournament a chess player's diet can be rather unbalanced, and the main staples in our cabin rooms here were Yakult drinks, boysenberries, mini Magnum icecreams and instant noodles (a brilliant invention).

Eating out at dinner, we exclusively went to a popular food house and an Italian restaurant, both right next to the venue - sadly, our search for eating places at the start of our stay in Dieren, at a radius of 50 metres from the playing venue, resulted in utter disappointment, and we concluded that these two places were serving everyone in town.

On our first visit to the Italian place, Moulthun and Andrew ordered lemonade (perfectly audibly) but was served fig juice instead, giving us a good laugh. The last couple of times we ate there, we all had the feeling that the cheerful and talkative waitress was a bit tired of seeing our faces, but I digress.

Round 9

Physical preparation
Mental preparation
The final day of the Dutch Open. I repeated the same result as at the World Open a few weeks earlier, finishing with a swindle to score 5/9 with 5 wins and 4 losses (Rounds 4-9: all 0-1). Interestingly, in this tournament I was the only player in the 60-strong field to have no draws.

I thought I have an unusually low drawing % in my games, until Andrew shattered the record by telling us that he had a 70-game no-draw streak from September last year to May this year!

Andrew was up against GM Friso Nijboer as White on Board 7 - unfortunately he blundered a bishop in the queenless middlegame, and he also finished on 5/9, gaining several points also.

Moulthun was amidst the tournament leaders on Board 2, playing White against GM Maxim Turov who was performing at 2700. From an equal position, Turov was too strong, outplaying from the middlegame, and he became champion on 7/9 with the best tiebreaks, after the sole leader Fier faltered against Georgiev on the top board.

Leading final scores:
1-3. Turov, Y.Vovk, Georgiev 7/9
4-5. E.L'Ami, Fier 6.5
6-11. Nijboer, A.Vovk, Lenderman, Arnaudov, Brandenburg, Petrov 6
12-17. Radulski, Milov, Ly, Neverov, Kuipers, Odendahl 5.5

The three pictures below were taken by Andrew on his morning walk(s), and also selected by him for this post.
"Wat zit jete kijken?" or "What are you looking at?"
Not a pretty picture (an orange slug), but Andrew was fascinated
We leave Dieren tomorrow morning, and go back to Amsterdam Central. Andrew stays in Amsterdam for one night, before taking part in the Hogeschool Zeeland tournament in Vlissingen, a seaside town in Holland, from the day after (!). It is a big open with 6 players over 2600, and Andrew is seeded 51st in the nearly 250-strong field. Hopefully he will have some time to post on the tournament while he is there.

Meanwhile, Moulthun and I will catch a train from Amsterdam to Brussels, and then fly to Chennai, India, arriving late on the 30th. From August 1st-15th, the 13-round World Junior (U/20) Championships will be held there, with other Australian players also joining us. It is my first time and last chance playing in the World Juniors, and am looking forward to it very much (Moulthun is perhaps a bit too excited), after my last overseas junior tournament (U/16 Olympiad, Singapore 2007) was probably the funnest tournament in my life.

Stay tuned for frequent posts from Andrew in Vlissingen and the three of us (with Fedja joining) in Chennai.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Dutch Open 2011 - Rest day, Day 6 & Day 7

"Oh, prince, sacrifice your rooks, leap with the bishop and save your Dilaram"
Dilaram uttering the words which helped her husband, Prince Murwadi, find the winning combination in a game he had wagered his wife, Dilaram, as stakes
(7th century)

A shot of our cabin

Yesterday (24th) was the rest day at the halfway point of the Dutch Open. Although we planned to take advantage of some of the sports and activities on offer at our accommodation, the weather did not comply and apart from trekking out for dinner with our umbrellas, we spent the day indoors. Compared to the two tournaments in Philadelphia with double round days, this one has been much more enjoyable chess-wise, as there is ample time to prepare (especially with the organizers being impeccably organized, e.g. posting pairings up right after all games have finished), and the atmosphere is more relaxing. 

by Moulthun
Round 6

Not a good day overall, as I drew with a 2300 FM from a position of strength while both Andrew and Junta lost to their GM opponents (Andrey Vovk and Daan Brandenburg respectively). Andrew was playing White and after reaching the very familiar Four Pawn's Attack variation of the King's Indian Defense, he dropped a pawn in a tactical finesse and went on to lose. Junta had a hard time trying to maintain the balance right from the opening and Black quickly got the upper hand going on to convert convincingly. It is unlikely, that we will see much of the double fianchetto from him again during this tournament, and the ones to follow.

I was Black this round, and after some slight move-order inaccuracies, quickly found myself with a slightly worse position from the opening. It was not until the 20th move that I finally managed to comfortably equalise. At this point I was hoping to end my solid, but rather dismal streak of 0 wins against higher rated opposition within the last 3-4 tournaments. The mentality of drawing as Black and winning with White doesn't always seem to cut it in big open tournaments, where no result is guaranteed and every half point is crucial with so little rounds. The following position was reached after the White's 40th move in the game, we both had about 2 minutes left to play our 40th move and gain an extra half hour. Shortly before this my opponent calmly offered a draw, but favouring my chances I decided to make an interesting exchange sacrifice. Objectively this seems best, but I later misplayed the attack and allowed a nice counter-sacrifice creating a rather intricate perpetual check.

Reiner Odendahl (2375) - Moulthun Ly (2369), Dutch Open (6.12), 25/7/11

40...Rxf2! 41.Kxf2 Qxd4+ 42.Kf1 Qe5 43.Kg2 h5 44.Qc2 g4 45.Be2 Bh6 46.Rd1 d4 47.Bc4 Bd5+ 48.Kf1 Kh7 49.Re1 Be3

50.Rxe3! dxe3 51.Bxd5 Qxd5 52.Qc7+ Kh6 53.Qf4+ Kg7 54.Qc7+ Kh6 55.Qf4+ Kg7 56.Qc7+ Kf8 57.Qb8+ Kf7 58.Qa7+ Kf8 59.Qb8+ Ke7 60.Qa7+ Kd6 61.Qb8+ Kd7 62.Qa7+ Kc8 63.Qa6+ Kc7 64.Qa7+ 1/2-1/2

So the run of draws continues for me, but at least I can say I didn't give this one in too early.

But the afternoon was not yet over, after our games we were lucky enough to be tagged along to play in a fun little 6-a-side soccer tournament with some Dutch chess and soccer players.

The competition was set up in a way as to include 10 teams, with some teams comprised of chess players, and a few from the host soccer club (soccer players). Each would play four games in the qualifying rounds, the games being 10-15 minutes in duration on a half-field pitch with netted goals, with the top couple from each pool qualifying to the knockout stages. Game 1 was the first indication that neither us nor our opposition could be taken lightly and this was not going to be some kick around the park. In saying that we narrowly won the game 1-0, but this was a sure sign that games would only get tougher from here on in. The rain only hours before had the field still damp, making running all the more difficult. In fact I had the hardest time staying on my feet slipping several (proofreader edit: many) times, missing some golden opportunities.

During our second game, our team quickly managed to take the lead but this was short-lived. In our half their right winger had turned me inside out and put a immaculately placed shot into the back of the net. With only a few minutes to go, they ran through our defence once again to score the winner. After only drawing our next game 1-1 and then losing our fourth game to a soccer team, our hopes of making to progress to further games was sunk.

However, to our amazement it transpired that all but one team from each pool make it to the next stage, with chess and soccer teams in their own pools, winners of each playing in the grand final. We won our chess semi-final game quite comfortably with a splendid goal (slotted into the bottom left corner with pure class) from Andrew!

One of our games in action

The finals saw us have to face the very same team from our group matches which beat us 2-1. On this occasion everyone played far more cautiously, moving up and down as a cohesive pack. With some luck and great defense we managed to keep it a scoreless game at full-time. This meant a good old-fashioned penalty shootout was in order. Junta seemed the most excited to relive his treasured childhood footballing moments from the penalty area. And it was only one week ago that we were in similar excitement, when Japan won the Women's Football World Cup from the same situation. Anyhow, after several brilliant put aways and mis-kicks under pressure, it seemed we were running low on kickers and after both Junta and Andrew (5th and 6th kickers) scored their shots and my opposing kicker missed, we were tied 4-4 with me the only one left of the field players to kick from the spot.

Andrew slotting in his penalty with his sheer class:

An excellent chance to score the winner and obtain eternal glory on the pitch. But the follow-through was far from impressive, not really troubling the keeper with a too-slow floater to the left post. After that we all began to crack, and after an epic series of hits and misses (with dozens of chanting spectators) it finally ended 7-6 with us narrowly missing out.

The team (and supporters) after the finals

Round 7

This was a very pleasant round for everyone, winning quite comfortably to add an extra point to their tally (our first 3-0 day). Andrew especially had a very nice game, sacrificing his bishop for an attack and finishing things off with his sheer class. Tomorrow I am paired with my fourth GM opponent Deepan Chakkravarthy, while both my compatriots Junta and Andrew have the really unlucky task of facing each other in the penultimate round. Not even pleads to the tournament organizers were able to change this unfortunate pairing.

(show chess board)(hide chess board)

With 2 rounds to go, the top of the table is fiercely contested, with no less than 5 GMs (Turov, L'Ami, Fier, Yuri Vovk and Georgiev) on 5.5/7, followed by Andrey Vovk on 5, 8 GMs/IMs + Moulthun on 4.5/7, and 15 players on 4/7. Moulthun's game against Deepan will be on a live board (9pm Sydney time).

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Dutch Open 2011 - Day 5

The open group
                        by Moulthun

Round 5
After bouncing back from our disappointments of Round 3 it seemed good wins were all that was needed to get us back into the swing of things. Especially Junta, after consecutive defeats to GM opposition, desperately needed a steady game in which to regain his rhythm. And this is exactly what he got, paired with a 2100 player. After stumbling through the opening phase with some uncertainty, he reached his typical, rather dubious Sicilian Kan position as Black - advancing pawns on both flanks with ...h5?! and ...b5!? leaving the king "safely" in the center for the most part of the game. On this occasion he invited a healthy knight sacrifice on d5, but White failed to follow up his sacrifice and missed drawing opportunities, allowing Black time to consolidate and convert his material advantage.

  Ikeda VS Neverov (GM) Round 4

Andrew was also playing a 2100 rated opponent, after a rather dubious looking Bd3 from his opponent in the King's Indian Samisch, Black simple got the upper hand. He went on to control the game, throwing in some sacrifices (which weren't quite as brilliant as his highly blogworthy masterpiece from Round 4, but equally effective) and soon executed a back rank checkmate in two following his opponent's time trouble blunder.

This round I was paired against my third GM opponent Marijan Petrov (2534) with the white pieces. This was my best chance to play for a win, to reach a respectable score. The opening was a Pirc, whereby I played a rather strange looking g3!? with the inclusion of a knight already on f3 rather than e2. This simply allows Black to reach a rather comfortable position, but my opening could be called a success, gaining almost a 40 minutes advantage on the clock over the first 10 moves or so. I continued to push, cutting down all opportunities for him to castle to safety. However, after his ...Qb4 to desperately trade off my Qc3 for an endgame, I hesitated momentarily and then made a naive decision to allow the trade, thinking I could win one of his weak pawns on a4 or c6. In fact in almost 100% of cases I would play Qd3! without thinking, avoiding the swap and simply maintaining the onslaught, but it seems pressure can sometimes force one to play irrational moves. After the swap, winning became difficult and a draw was agreed in time trouble. This leaves us all on 3/5 which is respectable but we definitely hope to score some more decisive results in the following games.

The pairings for the Round 6 tomorrow (it is a rest day today):
Board 9: Andrew - GM Andrey Vovk (2551) [live board]
Board 10: Junta - GM Daan Brandenburg (2538) [live board]
Board 12: FM Reiner Odendahl (2375) - Moulthun

The games will be from 1pm Amsterdam time (9pm Sydney time).

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Dutch Open 2011 - Days 3 & 4

The round under way
" one on earth has solved it unless he was taught by me. I have never learnt that there was anyone before, for if anyone had solved it, he would either have written down the solution, or have taught it to someone else.
This is the word of as-Suli."
as-Suli, the best player in the world around 900 AD, on a problem he composed

Round 3

A bad day for us, scoring just 0.5/3. Junta's opponent GM Vladimir Georgiev played a nice exchange sacrifice right after the opening which quickly developed into a crushing attack; Moulthun lost to GM Yuri Vovk after sacking the f-pawn for a single 1-move tactic which simply failed, and he was losing in each and every conceivable endgame; and Andrew sacrificed two pawns in the opening for positional compensation in his game, but he could only manage a draw in the end.

Polysport, where we are staying is a sports catering/accommodation place, and there are tennis courts, a volleyball net, hockey fields and a tennis table literally right outside our cabin, among others.

Non-chess play of the day: Ly-Brown

Round 4

Moulthun beat his younger opponent weaving a mating net, getting to 2.5/4; Junta played his third GM in a row, where he seemed to have two promising attacking moves at move 40 as White (with many observers watching in anticipation), but blundered a piece instead and lost (now on 2/4); while Andrew (also getting to 2/4) scored the chess play of the day (week), his opponent after the game sportingly telling him that he hoped the game wins a prize.

22.Qxe4!! and the next diagram is Andrew as White to play move 28:

He found a very nice forced mate in 9 - see if you can do the same (solution below can be seen by highlighting all text).

28.Re8+ Kg7 29.Rxf7+ Kh6 30.Nf5+! [30.f5+ Kh5 31.Rxh7+ Kg4 32.Re4+ Rxe4 33.h3+ Qxh3] 30...Kh5 [30...gxf5 31.Re6+ Kh5 32.Rxh7+ Kg4 33.Rg6#] 31.Rxh7+ Kg4 32.Nh6+ Kh4 33.Ng8+ Kg4 34.Nf6+ Kf5 35.g4+ Kxf6 36.Re6# 1-0

(show chess board)(hide chess board)

For Round 5 tomorrow (9pm Sydney time), Moulthun's game will be shown live.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Dutch Open 2011 - Days 1 & 2

by Moulthun
After quite an anxious night waiting before the day of the tournament, we were restless and sleep was minimal. This helps to explain why we woke up quite a bit later than planned. After scrambling our way from Amsterdam to Dieren with about 7 kgs of books in my bags (I can never get enough of a good read), we got to the playing venue by noon in time for registration. The field for the open is quite strong and diverse with 14 GM's playing among a field of 63 players. The playing venue is quite comfortable, we were worried that if it got too warm it would be a case of Belfort World Youths (2005) all over again.

The tournament results can be seen here.

Round 1

Both Junta and I won comfortably (in Junta's game, his opponent was slightly better but blundered) against 2100 opposition which was a relief since we were tired and not in the mood for a long tussle. Andrew, however, had to play GM Vladimir Georgiev. After having the initiative throughout the entire game he was unlucky to fall into a three move repetition while getting low on time. A situation that has happened to many players including me, myself and I several times. In the final position Andrew says simply ...Rf3 instead gives very good winning chances.

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Round 2

The second round saw me playing Jan Timman as Black which is always a difficult task. I chose a double-edged pawn sacrifice variation in the Fianchetto King's Indian, Jan took my first pawn but thought the second one would come at too high a cost and preferred Nd1 instead. At the 10-move mark I had used only 3 minutes while Jan had used over 40 minutes, showing the sheer class and experience of my opposition. I was making moves from memory, while he was deciding on which middlegame position from his vast pool of knowledge he preferred to enter. After ...f5 the game was quite sharp and unclear as to who was better, and White was soon two pawns up but sacrificed one back to take queens off and consolidate the position which was the right decision, in my view. We finally got down to a knight (me) versus bishop endgame with one pawn each at the end. It seemed as though my knight, after manouevering to the h8-square, had run out of moves but luckily enough my passed a-pawn saved the day.

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Andrew was White against a Dutch FM, the game was going well but after centralising the a1-rook instead of recapturing a centre pawn with a slightly better position, Black held onto his material advantage and soon won two exchanges, where the unopposed two bishops were not very happy. Junta was playing White against GM Andrey Vovk, he seemed to experienced no difficulties and after a slight inaccuracy by his opponent in the opening, he obtained a mighty bishop on g2 and slight advantage going on to convert. He was very happy with his usually poor time management, as he was always ahead on the clock.

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Vladimir Georgiev (2559) - Junta
Moulthun - Yuri Vovk (2564) - will both be on the live boards.
Tijmen Kampman (2111) - Andrew

There should be some photos from tomorrow's post too :)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

World Open 2011 games

by Junta

Round 1: Ikeda (2315) - Sundararajan (2467)
Black has replied to 37.a5-a6 with bxa6. With what piece should White recapture?
a) the bishop
b) the rook (solution below can be read by highlighting all text)
Of course, with the bishop, so e4 stays defended. However, epic fail-level blunders occur once or twice a year, and this may be the worst in an equal endgame I have ever committed - I played 38.Rxa6, immediately realised my mistake (my opponent froze for 10 seconds also, unable to believe his eyes), and resigned after 38...hxg4 39.hxg4 Bxe4 40.Kf1 Bf3 41.g5 Rg2 42.g6 Rxg6.

Round 2: In the 7-day schedule, there were only 15 players (merged with the 80-player 5-day schedule from Round 5) in a strong field, where I was one of the lowest rated - there were no easy games. My double fianchetto hedgehog as White against a FM eventually worked up a kingside attack, and I got to 50%.

Round 3: The posting of pairings was always very late, maybe 15-20 minutes before the game, not giving much time for prep. After success in the opening (surprising my opponent with 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 a6, which seems to score respectably), I made the mistake of castling queenside, instead of safely on the kingside, and my whole position came under fire quickly.

Round 4: Against a veteran GM. Black seemed comfortable after the opening, but I somehow gained the advantage through normal moves, getting to 50% again.

Round 5: A comfortable win against a 2100.

Round 6: Although I was happy with the opening against Puchen Wang, after 13.e4 and 14.exf5 which we agreed looked suspicious, Black had the initiative and scored a quick win (27...dxe1=Q 0-1).

Round 7: A comfortable win against a 2100 (the yo-yo effect of big opens...).

Round 8: A tense game where my time management was very poor. However, I was cheered up after the game (in fact, at that time I just saw the main lines, but really got down to analysis only today while writing up) discovering some beautiful lines. My intuition told me 24...Qf6 was the right move, but I did not even see the follow-up 25...Ra5! If I had been able to follow one of these computer lines during the game (though someone with a more powerful engine might be able to disprove Black's superiority), it would have definitely been the best game of my life. Hours and hours of working on your chess will be more than compensated for when you achieve something like that in a game...

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Round 9: A lucky swindle win from a worse position took me to 5/9 - a very average tournament, losing to four higher rated players. Moulthun was not in good form, and finished on 4.5/9 - with his Round 9 game, which he described as his worst ever, his scoring % against female opposition dropped even lower... 

World Open standings

I ended chess in the US on a very positive note, placing 3rd in the Blitz after the main tournament (starting after 11:30pm) where I was 17th seed. My performance rating may have approached super GM level...:) I think many players can relate to the experience of simply having fun and playing freely, and in the process playing some of the best chess of their life - this was what happened for me in this event. My mini-match results for the 10 rounds are below:

(USCF ratings)
2-0 against Lorena Mar Zepeda (2165)
2-0 against Yaacov Norowitz (2559)
1-1 against Timur Gareyev (2687)
0.5-1.5 against Mikheil Kekelidze (2592)
2-0 against Loek van Wely (2737)

World Open Blitz final crosstable

From the start of the tournament, watching the top seeds (and joint winners on 7/9 at the end) Kamsky and Adams play was a valuable experience. Seeing in person these giants who I have grown up reading about in magazines, books and websites, and especially seeing many games of, their focus, calm and sheer presence at the board made a big impression on me.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Philadelphia International 2011 Part 2

by Junta
So we entered the second half of the Philadelphia International Open, from Round 6, on the night of June 26th. I was pleased with how the opening as Black went (I'm quite fond of hedgehog structures), but after popping a pawn on move 27, things suddenly turned sour and my opponent could have soon won a clear exchange. Instead, a pawn was offered back, and in the subsequent endgame, although the logical outcome was a draw, I won on move 57.

This game was memorable for something other than the moves on the board. The arbiter had set our clocks, but wrongly - it transpired in the latter stages of the game, that 40 seconds, maybe even a minute, was being added each move, instead of the 5 second delay, and we hadn't taken notice. The game begun from 6pm, and 1:30am. This was the longest game of my life, and certainly one of the most exhausting.

Round 7: A comfortable win. When sacrificing with 25.Bxh5, I thought "hmm, a nice finish with 32.Qxh5+ and 33.g6#", but after playing 29.Rf5 I realised it won't be mate because my Rf5 is attacked! Luckily, Black's pieces are so tied up that they cannot prevent another winning sacrifice (Nxf7). Moulthun drew with Robert Perez, my tormentor from Round 3, in Round 6, and an IM in Round 7.

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Leading scores after Round 7:
1. Gerzhoy 6.5 (!)
2. Lenderman 5.5
3-8  Garcia, Ly, Perez, Romanenko, Adu, Rasch 4.5

I reached three consecutive wins with a rollercoaster game in Round 8 - after the interesting opening, I was slightly better in the middlegame, but nearing move 40 I lost control, and was down an exchange. After avoiding my two cheapos, he saw but miscalculated my third (most stylish), and I was back in the game - we both wanted to win from that point, but avoiding drawish lines was perilous for him, and my queen+two bishops turned deadly in mutual time trouble.

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In Round 9, Moulthun and I were paired on Board 4, and we had a fairly peaceful draw (he took half a point off Gerzhoy in Round 8, and finished undefeated, albeit with 2 wins and then all draws).

Leading final scores:
1. Gerzhoy 8
2. Lenderman 7
3. Garcia 6
4-7 Ly, Ikeda, Piasetski, Perez 5.5

Round 9 was on the morning of the 28th, but there was no after-tournament rest - the World Open began on that night. There may be a fairly quick post on it later. Check out Moulthun's first post below also.

Apologies for the lack of photos from Philadelphia, we barely took any there, not because it wasn't a nice place (it was), but the back-to-back tournaments didn't leave energy for much else...we should have plenty in the Netherlands :)

Getting Ready for Dieren

By Moulthun

"It is an honour for you to be here; ordinarily I converse only with my greyhounds."
(Mir Sultan Khan's Master: London 1933)

For the past two weeks since the conclusion of our America trip, Junta, Andrew and I have been doing our best to camouflage ourselves as Dutch locals. However, no matter how hard we tried there is always something which gives us away. From our obvious lack of Dutch (Junta has been here for almost three weeks and still cannot say a single word of Dutch correctly), to the apparent foreign english accents.

During the first few days of arriving in Amsterdam, I fell ill to an infection, which stole almost a week off our travel plans. It seemed to have happened after competing in an interesting Blitz Chess/Table tennis tournament, which consisted of 7 rounds, with 4 games of table tennis and 1 games of blitz chess 5 0 against each opposition. Although my blitz almost landed me a 50% score overall, my table tennis was far from impressive. In fact I thought I would have a chance if I didn't get paired with a competition player, but I knew I was going to suffer when I realized my racket grip has hardly ever been seen before. Sadly I didn't manage to win a single game, although I had many close calls which I suspect were my opponents toying with me as payback for the blitz. It seems the changes from physical to mental exercise was extremely straining and definitely tested my ability to focus. But it was a unique and very enjoyable experience, perhaps one day we will see other sports being combined with chess.
Me vs (GM) Robin Swinkels
Since then we have done the typical day trips, absorbing in what the rich city and picturesque countrysides of Holland have to offer. Resting between days, to enjoy local activities within the park and publicly provided sporting areas. Chess preparation has been added in here and there but nowhere near as much as what was intended. Tomorrow though, all three of us will take a short trip to Dieren to compete in the Dutch Open starting on the 19th July. In the meantime we pack our bags and try to cram every last bit of chess knowledge we can possibly hold.
Although we all have big ambitions, we can only wait and hope if any of them can be fulfilled.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Philadelphia International 2011 Part 1

by Junta
"We called 'hey boy' and he ran out of the python's constriction"
Moulthun Ly

After the two tournaments in Philadelphia, Moulthun and I (with Andrew joining us a few days ago) are currently resting in Amsterdam until the Dutch Open starts on the 19th. As I'm used to only having one or two days off while playing overseas, having nearly two weeks off here has been a doubly foreign experience, and unsettling in a sense - having to cook, wash and go sightseeing. It is so much easier just to play chess each day...

My journey from Canberra was nearly as dramatic as how some of the games would turn out. As flights to and from Canberra and Melbourne airports were cancelled for June 22nd, after some frantic packing I made my way to Sydney instead (my father drove). After a gruelling journey of over 40 hours with some memorable moments and long waits, I arrived at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Philadelphia on the morning of the 23rd, venue and accommodation for my first ever US tournaments.

Tournament #1 was the 9-round Philadelphia International Open from June 24-28 - although there were 60 players last year, this year the numbers were halved, the organisers suspecting perhaps because the hotel was booked out early this year. Top seeds were American GMs Shabalov and Lenderman, Canadian IM Gerzhoy and Belarussian IM Romanenko, all rated above 2450.

The titled players performed quite solidly, although Shabalov wasn't in his best form, losing to two 2300s and pulling out after Round 5. After Round 5, IM Gerzhoy and GM Garcia were leading by a point on 4.5. Due to having uni exams on the 20th, 22nd and 23rd (!) before setting sail for his real tests, Moulthun took half-point byes for Rounds 1-2 and joined from Round 3 on the 25th.

The rounds were at 11am and 6pm each day - I found the tournament very exhausting, especially in a jet-lagged condition ('Jet Lag' by Simple Plan could be frequently heard from Moulthun's laptop in the hotel room) - unfortunately, in many of the evening rounds I would experience a period of heavy sleepiness where I couldn't think about anything other than trying to stay awake.

Another negative for me was the American time control - 2 hours in 40 moves, followed by 1 hour, and 5 seconds 'delay' per move from the start (after pressing the clock, there would be 5 seconds before the opponent's clock started). I would quickly use up most of my 2 hours, and then be troubled by only having 5 seconds per move, whereas I am used to having more than 30 seconds increment in Australia.

In Round 1, I won fairly easily against a gentleman who is about 90 years old, but in Round 2, the evening round, I played poorly against the 2nd seed Lenderman and was crushed.
In Round 3 I was up against a junior rated around 2250. After my insipid opening, he gained the initiative and maintained it throughout, but what impressed me was his skillful play exploiting my time trouble. From the late middlegame, my pieces were confined to their passive posts, and all I could do was try and absorb the pressure. Especially intimidating was Black's manouevring with his queen, slowly but surely whittling down my time - in fact, I did not have to record the moves once I was under 5 minutes (which I was from move 30, and again from 55), but I only realised this later in the event, and was recording until the end of this game, when I was down to 7 seconds. Blitz practice does come in handy...I was very lucky he rushed in playing 93...Qb1?, whereupon I managed to survive.

(My gut feeling, that this junior was not your ordinary 2250, was confirmed when he placed =1st in the U/2400 section of the World Open, collecting $10,000)

After that save, which ended in its 7th hour, I was exhausted, and perhaps my Round 4 opponent was in a similar state, he offered a draw after 13 moves. In a position where it didn't seem easy for me, to put it mildly, to play for a full point, I should have accepted immediately and went off to a much-craven sleep, but I spent 50 minutes agonising instead. Fortunately, objectivity won this time, and I stopped the clocks.

My form did not improve overnight, and in Round 5 I suffered my first loss in 50 games against a lower rated player (a certain IM also in Amsterdam atm).

After 5 rounds, I was on 2 points and had shed all the rating points I had gained at the NSW Open two weeks before. I hadn't won since Round 1, and wasn't feeling very confident about my evening game against a player rated 300 points lower (I wasn't to know that this game would break a specific personal record).

After Round 5, the leading scores were:
1-2 Gerzhoy, Garcia 4.5
3-8 Lenderman, Ly, Perez, Romanenko, Melekhina, Adu 3.5

Joining the tournament in Round 3 after arriving at the hotel 12 hours before that game, Moulthun beat two FMs and drew with Lenderman. His Round 4 win, with his own annotations, has been posted on another blog here. It is a (Japanese) blog by FM Shinya Kojima, #1 active player and 5-time national (closed) champion of Japan, who was with us in Philadelphia. We'll be seeing him again at the Malaysian Open in the second half of August.

Part 2 will be posted soon.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Checkmate Open 2011

"Hungarians are strange creatures"
Zong-Yuan Zhao

Case in point: Andras Toth

The Checkmate Open was held over the last weekend on the 9-10th of July. The arbiter for the tournament was not Charles Zworestine, who was going to play his first weekender in over 10 years!

The first round was played on Friday night ... at a bowling alley and not over the chess board. Charles kept going on about him bowling a turkey, but we can find no evidence to back up his claim. The score sheet may or may not have been lost at some point over the weekend. The disappointment seemed to take its toll on Charles as he was so "sick" the following morning that he had to pull a Novak Djokovic and withdraw from the tournament.

Now for the real first round which commenced only 20 minutes late, which has to be some kind of Australian record. The top seeds had a generally easy round except for James Morris who had a tough endgame against Frank Lekkas which dwindled down to a draw and Andrew Brown who played a nice game but then blundered in time trouble against Edgar Mdinaradze and he had to settle for half a point.

In round 2, Sam Grigg notched up an upset over Andrew, after Perpie again blundered in time trouble, this time in a drawn minor piece endgame. Edgar Mdinaradze continued his good form, drawing with Mark Chapman who had already taken a half point bye in the first round. Most of the other top seeds reached 2/2. 

In the third round, Ron Scott had an upset draw against second seed GM Darryl Johansen, although neither player was happy with the game which was extremely boring while Trevor Tao managed to win a drawn rook and pawn ending against Sam Grigg, setting up a clash with Zong-Yuan Zhao in round 4. Perpie chalked up his first win of the tournament ... down on board 11 ... while Fedja, white, somehow swindled the full point from the following position against Mdinaradze playing the last 20 minutes of the game on only the 10 second increment.

Kevin Sheldrick had the whole tournament hall in laughter as he turned up to his board a few minutes before the forfeit time dressed up as a pirate.

Kevin the Pirate

Kevin won his round 3 game against Anthony Milton, but went down to Alistair Cameron in round 4 in an extremely tricky endgame which was probably drawn until Kevin moved his king outside the square of the passed h-pawn. 

1. Kc5?? (1.Ke5 keeping the opposition and diagonal opposition holds, for example 1... Kc6 2.Ke4 ) h4 0-1

On board 1, Trevor Tao blew the tournament wide open by beating top seed Zong-Yuan Zhao. Sam owned the second member of the Zulfic house by hacking Fedja after a dynamic position arose from a Grunfeld and Fedja failed to find the best defence in time pressure.

Grigg,Sam - Zulfic,Fedja [D85]
Checkmate Open (4.6), 09.07.2011
[Mainly Rybka 4]

1.c4? Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.cxd5 Nxd5 4.d4 g6 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Be3 0–0 9.Be2 Nc6 10.0–0 cxd4 11.cxd4 Bg4 12.d5 Bxf3 13.gxf3?! Na5 14.Bd4  (D)

b6?! [14...Qd6 A more natural move preventing the immediate advance of the f-pawn. 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.Qd4+ Kg8 17.e5 Nc6 18.exd6 Nxd4 19.dxe7 Nxe2+ 20.Kg2 Rfe8 21.d6 Nf4+ 22.Kg3 Nd5 23.Rfe1=] 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.Qd4+ Kg8 17.f4 Rc8 18.Rac1 Qd6 19.e5 Qa3 20.Rxc8 Rxc8 21.f5 Sam is a hacker 21...Qxa2 22.Bd3 Qd2 23.fxg6 hxg6 24.e6 (D)

24...f5? [24...Qg5+ 25.Kh1 Nb3! 26.exf7+ Kxf7 27.Qe4 Qf6µ] 25.d6 Qg5+ [25...exd6 26.Qf6 Qxd3 27.Qxg6+ Kh8 28.Qf6+ Kg8 29.Qf7+ Kh8 30.e7+-] 26.Kh1 exd6 27.Rg1 Rc1 28.Bf1 Qh5 29.e7 Qf3+ 30.Bg2 Rxg1+ 31.Kxg1 Qe2 32.Bd5+ Kh7 33.Qe3 Qd1+ 34.Kg2 Qxd5+ 35.f3 f4 36.Qe2 Qg5+ 37.Kh1 1-0

Trevor maintained his lead in round 5 with a draw with Darryl, while the house struck back with Zong-Yuan beating Sam in a game of missed chances. Alistair Cameron had a good upset draw on board 3 against Bobby Cheng.

Zhao,Zong-Yuan - Grigg,Sam [A90]
Checkmate Open (5.2), 10.07.2011
[Zong-Yuan Zhao]
1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 c6 a subtle move order designed to fight against the Nh3 plans since black can still arrange to play d6 and e5 5.Nf3 [5.Nh3 d6 6.0–0 Be7 7.Nf4 e5] 5...d5 6.0–0 Bd6 7.b3 Qe7 preventing an immediate Ba3 8.Bb2 0–0 9.Nbd2 b6 [9...Bd7 10.Ne5 Be8 11.Ndf3 Bh5 12.Nd3 is maybe a bit better for white] 10.Ne5 Bb7 11.Rc1 c5! (D) [11...Nbd7 12.cxd5 cxd5 13.Ndc4! now that b7 is unprotected white has this neat little trick (13.Nc6 Qf7 14.Nf3 Rfc8 15.Nfe5 Qe8=) 13...Rfc8 14.Nxd6 Qxd6 15.Qd3²]  

12.e3 [12.dxc5 Higher intervention from...Rybka4 12...bxc5 (12...Bxc5 13.cxd5 exd5 (13...Nxd5 14.e4 Nf6 15.Qe2) 14.Nd3) 13.cxd5 exd5 14.Ndc4! if 14...Bc7? (D) (14...dxc4 this is best 15.Bxb7 Bxe5 16.Bd5+ (16.Bxe5 Qxb7) 16...Nxd5 (16...Kh8 17.Bxe5 Nxd5 18.Qxd5 Nd7 19.Bd6 Qf7 20.Qxf7 Rxf7 21.Rxc4) 17.Qxd5+ Qf7 18.Qxf7+ (18.Qxe5 Nd7 19.Qd6) 18...Kxf7 19.Bxe5 Nd7 20.Bf4 cxb3 21.axb3 Rfc8²)

15.Ng6!! hxg6 16.Bxf6 Qe6 17.Be7!! Qxe7 18.Bxd5+ Bxd5 19.Qxd5+ Kh7 20.Qxa8] 12...Rd8 13.Qe2 Bxe5 14.dxe5 Ne4 15.Rfd1 Nc6 16.g4 Nxd2 17.Rxd2?! now black has the chance to seize the initiative [17.cxd5! Rxd5! (17...exd5 18.Rxd2 Nxe5 19.gxf5 Rd6 20.f4 Nf7 21.b4²) 18.Bxd5 exd5 19.Rxd2 Nxe5 20.Bxe5 Qxe5 21.b4 c4 (21...d4 22.bxc5) 22.Rd4 Re8÷] 17...dxc4! 18.Rxd8+ Rxd8 19.gxf5 (D)

c3? this was a Sam cheapo as now f6 is met by cxb2! hehe =) [19...Qg5 20.f4 Qxf5 21.bxc4 Na5 22.Bxb7 Nxb7 and this is better for black as the white king is unsafe and also he has many queenside weaknesses 23.Bc3 (23.Rd1 Rxd1+ 24.Qxd1 Na5 (24...h5) ) 23...Rd3 (23...Qe4 24.Kf2) 24.Kf2 Nd8 25.Rd1 Rxc3 26.Rxd8+ Kf7 27.Kg3 Ke7] 20.Bxc3 Qg5 21.f4 Qxf5 the difference is that now white is to move! 22.Rd1 Qf8 23.Kf2 Rxd1 24.Qxd1 Qd8?! [24...Qe7 25.Qd6 Kf7 26.Kg3²] 25.Qd6 Qh4+? [25...Kf7 26.Kg3²] 26.Kg1 Qg4 (D) played at top notch speed 

27.h3?? [27.Qd7 was white's intention but was then convinced he missed Qxg2+ 27...Qxg2+ 28.Kxg2 Nxe5+ and black wins...wait isn't b7 hanging duh  29.Qxb7+-] 27...Qg6? [27...Qg3! forces white to be extremely accurate 28.Bd2! (28.Qxe6+ this was white's intention 28...Kf8 29.Qf5+ Ke7 30.Qg5+ Qxg5 31.fxg5 Nd8 32.Bf1 Ne6 33.h4 Be4 and it looks like black can hold ) 28...Qg6 29.Kh2] 28.Kh2 Qe8 29.f5 Nd8 30.Bxb7 Nxb7 31.Qc7 Nd8 32.f6 Nf7 33.Qxa7 gxf6 [33...Qd8 34.Qe7] 34.exf6 Qd8 35.Qe7 Qxe7 36.fxe7 Nd6 37.Be5 Ne8 (D)

38.a4?! [38.Bb8! Kf7 (38...b5 39.a4 c4 40.Be5 bxa4 41.bxa4 c3 42.Bxc3) 39.Ba7 Kxe7 40.Bxb6 Kd6 41.Kg3 Nf6 42.Kf3 Nd5 43.Ba5] 38...Kf7 39.Bb8 Nf6 [39...Kxe7 is better 40.Ba7 Kd6 41.Bxb6 Kc6 42.Ba5 Nd6 43.Bc3±] 40.Bc7 Nd5 41.Bd8 c4 42.bxc4 Nxe3 43.Bxb6 [43.c5 bxc5 44.a5 c4 45.a6 c3 46.a7 c2 47.a8Q c1Q 48.e8Q+! (48.Qf3+ Nf5 49.Qh5+ Kg7 50.e8N+ Kf8) 48...Kxe8 49.Bg5+ Kf7 50.Qf3+] 43...Nxc4 44.Bc5 Na5 45.Kg3 Nc6 46.Kf4 h6 47.h4 Ke8 48.Ke4 Kd7 49.h5 Ke8 50.Kd3 Na5 51.Kc3 Kd7 52.Kb4 Nc6+ 53.Kb5 e5 54.e8B+ 1–0

Round 6 saw Trevor seal at least equal first by crushing James Morris in 45 minutes as his nearest competitors Yuan and Darryl drew on board 2. Lower down in the field, Sam confirmed his reputation as the world's biggest hacker against Mdinaradze.

Grigg,Sam - Mdinaradze,Edgar [A22]
Checkmate Open (6.6), 10.07.2011
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 c6 4.Nf3 d6 Better is [4...e4 5.Nd4 d5 6.cxd5 cxd5] 5.d3 Be7 6.Bg2 Na6 7.0–0 0–0 8.Rb1 Nc7 9.b4 Ne6 10.a4 Nd7 11.e4 Re8 12.Be3 Bf6 13.Qd2 Nc7 14.Ne1 Nf8 15.f4 exf4 16.gxf4 Bg4 Blacks play has been extremely passive and thus allows white a perfect wall of pawns with 17.d4 (D)

Qd7 18.e5 Bh4? was a waste of a tempo, best was [18...Be7 immediately 19.exd6 Bxd6 20.c5 Be7] 19.Nf3 Be7 20.b5 dxe5?? is simply losing 21.bxc6! bxc6 22.Nxe5 Qf5 23.Bxc6 Bh3 24.Bxa8 Nxa8 25.Rf3 Nb6 26.Rb5 Qh5 27.Rg3 white has consolidated his position and have some fun 27...Bf5 28.c5 Nc8 29.d5 Bh4 30.d6 Bxg3 31.hxg3 a6 32.Rb7 Qh3 33.Bf2 Rd8 34.Rxf7 Ng6 35.Rc7 Nxe5 36.Qd5+ Be6 37.Qxe5 Bc4 38.Qxg7# 1–0

Round 7 saw Trevor and Bobby agree a draw in a complex position giving Trevor outright tournament victory. Ronald Scott joined Bobby in equal third place by beating Zong-Yuan in a Bf4 Grunfeld which allowed Darryl to take second place with an amusing win over Sam Grigg. Alistair Cameron finished a good tournament with a final round win over Frank Lekkas giving him a share of third as well.

Johansen,Darryl - Grigg,Sam [A22]
Checkmate Open (7.3), 10.07.2011
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Here Sam had a mental blank and played... 3...e4? 4.Ng5 Bb4 To pin the d2 pawn [4...b5 is actually playable although white is probably better after  5.d3 bxc4 6.dxe4] 5.Ncxe4 Nxe4 6.Nxe4 Now 6...Qh4 Sam's opening was so random that Darryl thought he had 'prepped this from Secrets of Openings Surprises'. However, Sam didn't even realise that such a book existed! 7.Qb3 Better was [7.Qc2 0–0 White has consolidated his position and is easily much better] 7...Nc6 8.Nc3 0–0 9.e3 Re8 10.Be2 d6 11.Nd5 Bg4 12.Bxg4 Qxg4 13.0–0 Ba5 And white went on to win. 1–0

Mark Chapman's last round game against James Morris had a cute finish. Black had just played Qa5-e5.

1. Rxh7!! BAM

And black resigned due to 1...Qxf4 2. Bxf7 Kf8 3.Ne6#

Over the course of the weekend, one arbiter-cum-chessgroupie accidentally implied he was a turkey, a geek, a noob and a camel. Below is an artist's depiction of this mythical creature.

The Zworebeast: Any resemblance to a certain IA is purely coincidental and totally denied by the relevant party.