Sunday, 23 October 2011

Hungary - Part 2

"There can be no finer example of the inspiring powers of competition to shatter the status quo than Hungary's Judit Polgar."
Garry Kasparov

"Only those with inferior taste prefer the unnecessarily complicated to the simple. Sound human understanding chooses from two equally appropriate moves the one which is more straightforward and less complex."
Emanuel Lasker

"If it's stupid but works, it isn't stupid."
Murphy's Laws of Combat
by Andrew

After a dismal start, I was paired against GM Gyula Sax (2491) in the fourth round, who apparently is an ex-candidate for the World Championship, and is still remarkably strong at the age of 60. Luckily I got the Queen's Indian I was hoping to get, and I gained quite a bit of time by being able to bash out theory and leave my opponent either trying to remember or trying to work out the best moves - perhaps a bit of both.

I got exactly the position I'd looked at up until move 19, and all I had to do was play a simple knight retreat and continue with a straightforward plan that is hard for Black to do anything against. Instead, as you can imagine, I played a rather dubious but very exciting move that adequately bamboozled my opponent for him to think for half an hour and miss the simple win. However, after the first few moves of the combination I decided, yet again, against the straightforward option which would have given me very decent compensation and this time had to suffer with a clearly worse position. Fortunately though, due to my opponent's time trouble, I was able to swindle a draw out of the resulting ending.

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Okay, so I didn't win the next four. Actually from the fourth round on I continued as "expected", more or less. My next game against IM Julian Estrada (2285) was very interesting, and although I made another of my typically unnecessarily complicated moves (as in, the reasoning behind the move, not the manner in which the move is carried out - for example using one's elbows to move the piece and pressing the clock with one's head) I felt it could have gone either way until just a few moves before the end.

After 40.g5

Resorting, once again, to my bamboozling tactics I played 40...Rf2?! (according to Houdini 1.5a w32 Black can achieve a draw with 40...Ra8 41.Ra1 Kh8 42.Bd3 Rd2 43.g6 Rxd3 44.Rxd3 b2 45.Rdd1 bxa1=Q 46.Rxa1 Ra3) which allowed for a study-like finish after 41.Kxf2 Rf8+ 42.Rf3 Rxf3+ 43.Kxf3 b2 44.Kg4! a1=Q 45.h7+ Kg7 46.Rf7+! Kxg6 47.h8=N#! (D)

The (almost) Paradox Knight-mate

The final position deserves its own diagram. It looks almost paradoxical at first, as the knight can't have got there from any other square; then you realise that it was just promoted. I think this must be the most beautiful final position I've ever had.

Another loss, but I guess I don't mind losing like that. My Round 6 game was against yet another GM - this time against Serbian Zlatko Ilincic (2467) - again with the Black pieces. It started off as a Fianchetto King's Indian with his normal deviation of the mainline with 9.b3. I played an early queen move that, although not altogether bad, was probably not the best option. My pieces got a bit cramped up in the middlegame and I made an interesting sacrifice which was probably the best move this time, but eventually my opponent proved that it wasn't enough for me to be able to hold the game.

Hmm... 0.5/6. Could be worse, I guess.

Who knows, perhaps the man in the foreground was on 0/6.

And at least I'd got all the GMs out of the way.

Round 7 I was White against American FM Erik Kislik (2320). It was a Grunfeld with Bb5+ on move 7. I got what I felt was quite a reasonable position and in the middle game I would have had quite a bit of an advantage had I not carelessly swapped off into an endgame. The game ended in a draw. I got to know Erik pretty well over the course of the tournament and it was nice not to have to eat lunch on my own every day. I often had dinner with him too, as well as Julian Estrada and Carla Heredia Serrano (who played in the IM group).

On top of the mall, looking out over the city.

In Round 8 I had my best game of the tournament, or at least the most entertaining. I played the Chinese player Qiang Hou (2320) as Black. It started in a very long line of the Sveshnikov where I'd sacrificed two queenside pawns to get a kingside attack. He missed a tricky move in the middlegame that would have given him a definite advantage and made a "safe" move when it was unsafe to do so. Then a final time-trouble-assisted blunder from him allowed me a nice way to finish.

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So after a late tournament comeback I was on par with my expected score, but unfortunately I was defeated swiftly by FM Tamas Fodor (2458) in the last round when I ran out of theory quite literally on move 4 and then proceeded to self-destruct, probably more due to apathy or exhaustion than anything else.

As was the case in Sunningdale, there was no presentation or closing ceremony after the tournament. And all the people I'd met and friends I'd made were no longer there the next day, such is the case in many a chess tournament. Before my trip I tended to be more reserved during tournaments for a mixture of reasons, and I've learnt a great deal now about independence and taking care of myself with out the support of friends or family. But I've also come to realise the importance of making the most of those opportunities, as it really enriches the whole experience when there are like-minded people to share it with. This realisation helped to make Hungary one of the best parts of my trip.

And although I would have felt quite disappointed with such a tournament earlier, it doesn't worry me too much now. As Zong-Yuan Zhao said to me just before I left Australia, "Remember, it's just chess; it's not life". I did my best, and while I didn't perform as well as I wanted to, what I've learned from these tournaments and experiences is simply invaluable. A physical, mental and emotional journey I'll never forget.

P.S: Max Illingworth has written a great article on deciding between the straightforward and the complex on the Sydney Academy of Chess site, which can be reached here. The article happens to contain my most flattering example of the latter over the former.

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