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).

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