Thursday, 26 April 2012

Horvath-Ikeda, Doeberl Cup 2012

by Junta

Playing over Game 3 of the currently ongoing Kramnik-Aronian match from Tuesday night, where Aronian sacrificed his queen right after the opening, it reminded me of how I've played several games this year where I've been on 'his side' of things - playing against the queen with a platoon of lesser pieces.

Personally I'm a big fan of playing unbalanced games, especially with actual material imbalances, as it's usually all about who can take hold of the initiative and harmoniously bring their pieces into the thick of the battle, whilst dodging the opponent's deadly threats - in short, tactical skirmishes across the whole board.

The first of these games can be seen near the bottom of two posts ago - the game I achieved my first IM norm through, with RRBN vs. QR, in January.

Final position: 46...Bd6-e7 0-1

The second was in a local tournament game in March where I only had RRBN against my opponent's QRN, but weaved a mating net quickly thanks to a blunder.
The third was a dramatic game which I played in Round 3 of the recent Doeberl Cup, against Hungarian GM Adam Horvath.

Photo: Agus Setiabudi
The game began as a Sicilian Taimanov - we were both using lots of time and by move 20, had less than a minute/move to make it to the time control at move 40.

After 20...Kg8-h8 - the tension is building...
The first critial moment arose after White pushed 30.g5-g6 - solidifying the king's hideout with 30...h7-h6 seems natural enough, and is the obvious best (only) move - but somehow I saw ghosts of White crashing through on h6, so my hand impulsively grabbed the f8-rook and captured the knight.

After 30...h7-h6 Houdini says =+ (!), but after 30...Rxf4? it's clearly +-.
An exchange down, I thought White would slowly but surely convert, so after the above mistake I thought I might as well go for the more active option again. This time I gave up my queen for a rook and bishop, resulting in this outwardly depressing endgame - my only consolation was that my opponent was low on time.

After 44...Rb7xBg7 45.Qe8xPe6
It should be a fairly straightforward win for White, but I wanted to make it as difficult as possible - and perhaps my opponent relaxed a little too much, because as all the other games finished and a crowd converged around our board on the stage, my pieces co-ordinated well enough in attack to demand White to make the choice - take perpetual check, or give up the knight?

After 69...Nf4-h5+ - threefold repetition with 70.Kh3, or...
I was surprised he gave up the knight with 70.Kf3. Embarassingly, I was quite convinced that RNN vs. Q was a win, whereas it is actually a (fairly well known) dead draw! After the knight I rounded up the c-pawn, then the h-pawn - it was time to weave a mating net (or so I thought). Amusingly, there were several instances where I nearly made moves which won the queen for rook - each time, my (inner) smile disappeared when I realised I would only be left with the two knights.

So, the win was much more difficult than I thought, and I was feeling confused and frustrated. I could see no way to make progress - but as I had lost all objectivity, it did not even enter my mind that there was indeed no win. White kept one of the knights pinned with the queen, and was safe - so nearly 6.5 hours into the game, I cracked under the tension and lost on time. A good lesson it was - the game can be played through below.

Apologies for blog inactivity since February - this year I've already played 60 rated games through January-April, a new record for the first four months of one year. At the HD Bank Open in Vietnam at the start of March, I scored the worst performance of my life, scoring 3/9 and losing 59 rating points - there were several factors to my failure, but in general I seem to be scoring worse against lower rated players this year compared to the last couple of years.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Catching up with Time

By Moulthun Ly

"If you really want to know something, then only time will tell... it always does" (unknown)

It’s been such a long time since any of us did a post, so before “the year ends” I thought I should probably get on to it. I only just found out that for the first time I will make the Australian team for the Olympiad this year! So I’m quite stoked to get a chance to play Board 4 in August, when it is held in Istanbul.
But before I go too far ahead, let's take a super quick look at how I even got here.  The start of the year was quite solid to say the least with the 20 games from Australian Champs and Queenstown; I only lost 2 of these. But this has always been my problem of late, simply falling a half point short. Drawing has never really been an issue for me. Yet converting even trivially won positions has become an arduous task. 

Fast forward a few weeks and Junta and myself decided to go play in the HD Bank International tournament in Vietnam for the first time. Although I live right next door, I’d never been to Ho Chi Minh before and it proved to be a very pleasant experience. The chess we played was quite average for me, and for Junta… hmm well not his best performance we can say. That aside it was an excellent experience and was fantastic to meet such wonderful people there. We both had a great time there, looking forward to coming to play in this event again next year.

A few more weeks later and we were back playing in the annual Doeberl and SIO chess opens. Ohh, how time goes by all too quickly. In the past these have always been my worst performing tournaments. Mainly due to the tight schedule and late night rounds which become all too draining.  After a very slow start in Doeberl I managed to pull myself together and finish on a respectable 6/9. While at SIO I once again performed on par finishing on another 6/9.  All in all it hasn’t been such a bad start to the year, just very average. I would have liked to have done a little better. However, all I really need is one good tournament and it will happen in time. Will keep posting if I find out anything interesting or of value.

So that’s really about all that has happened this year for me. No plans yet to really play anything else, anytime soon. Well this was quite a boring post, there won’t be too many more though I promise.