Tuesday, 25 December 2012

So close...

by Junta

A picture taken on a street in Calcutta.


Rose Valley Open 2012 - Most entertaining game

by Junta

In a tournament where the majority of the players were titled, many of the games were high quality: subtle opening lines cooked up in depth at home, positional struggles across the whole board vying to exploit each others' weaknesses, energetic attacks meeting resilient defence, technique of the highest class in the endgame.

The game that caught my eye the most, however, was an entertaining piece of guerilla warfare in the penultimate, 10th round on Board 7, between the young Indian GM Adhiban and Filipino IM Dimakiling.

If a class positional struggle between two masters could be likened to two prominent mathematicians calmly but methodically competing to solve the same, difficult problem with pen on paper, this game could be something like two scientists eagerly mixing up some dangerous chemicals in test tubes and throwing them at each other from opposite ends of a lab, exploding on impact at times - yes, the ultimate aim in a game of chess is to checkmate the opponent's king.

The game leaves the realms of contemporary theory very early on - after Black's 3rd move, there have only been 31 other games in the database, and the only person who had faced the position after Black's 5th move was none other than Mikhail Tal in 1982!

I present you the game below - commentary would be superfluous for such a fun game.
Merry Christmas!


Monday, 24 December 2012

My favourite move in chess

by Junta

We all have our favourite things - favourite song, favourite colour, favourite food, favourite sport. It is natural for chess players to also hold such affections in the world of chess - favourite player, favourite opening, favourite combination, favourite tournament to play in. But one relation not many may have discovered is their favourite move to play in a game.

Of course, we are all fond of aesthetic moves - most of us would love to sacrifice our queen in attack, unveil a counter-intuitive passive piece sacrifice for an unstoppable pawn breakthrough in the endgame, or showcase an awesome novelty in a hot line even elite players have not discovered. But here I'm talking about playing the same piece to the same square (with colours reversed also) regularly in games, not just a one-hit wonder (or the chess equivalent thereof).

I've held a fondness for flank (pawn) attacks since my early years in chess, but looking over my games from the two recent tournaments in India, I realised a certain little guy in my army had had his fair share of deployment, and he has probably earned a number of medals and commendations through my years of playing by now.

Maybe this phenomenon of a favourite move is like a guy who comes up with suggestive jokes all the time in conversation: in the appropriate context, it can be highly effective; it can be utilised in practically any stage of the game; sometimes, it fails miserably; it can hold surprise value; and the opponent feels the need to react; along with any other half-decent metaphorical/metaphysical relations.

Anyway, here are the positions from my 22 games where the move was played:
(my rating is 2304)

#1: Nov 23 - Ikeda-Sai (1654), Commonwealth Championships, Round 1.50

The position after 16.g2-g4. The game finished 16...f5 17.gxf5 Nf6 18.Qc2 Ng4 19.Qb3 Nxf2 20.Qxe6+ Kh8 21.Qxh6+ 1–0

#2: Nov 24 - Ikeda-Raghunandan (2042), Commonwealth Championships, Round 3.38

After 7.g2-g4 - the Shirov-Shabalov Gambit which I loved from first sight in childhood.

#3: Nov 25 - Ikeda-Seshadri (1990), Commonwealth Championships, Round 5.37
After 5.g2-g4 - objectively its not nearly as good as the SSG above, but it is playable. I was amazed to find in the database later that Mamedyarov had essayed it against Ponomariov in Dortmund 2010 (the result was a draw)!
#4: Nov 27 - Ikeda-Deepan (2500), Commonwealth Championships, Round 7.16
After 28.g3-g4 - I was able to open lines up on the kingide favourably and gain the advantage soon after.

#5: Nov 28 - Himanshu (2417)-Ikeda, Commonwealth Championships, Round 8.14
After 29...g6-g5, the game was kept in balance.

#6: Dec 1 - Ikeda-Narayanan (2438), Commonwealth Championships, Round 11.20
After 21.g2-g4 - objectively it may be a bit dubious, but practically I felt that I had to play it here. I was able to free my knights and gain equality.

#7: Dec 3 - Ikeda-Vaibhav (2494), Rose Valley Open, Round 1.25
After 17.g3-g4 - although I didn't follow up in the best way, I'm happy with my position here.

#8: Dec 7 - Karavade (2385)-Ikeda, Rose Valley Open, Round 5.33
After 15...g6-g5 - sadly, I had neglected castling after the opening, and my position was already difficult.

#9: Dec 8 - Ikeda-Rishi (2185), Rose Valley Open, Round 6.44
After 9.g2-g4 - a nice line I had wanted to play in a tournament game since learning it.

#10: Dec 12 - Ikeda-Thejkumar (2442), Rose Valley Open, Round 10.26
After 27.g3-g4 - a decent move - 27.f4 and 27.h4 also looked good, but perhaps my favouritism dictated matters here.

#11: Dec 13 - Rathnakaran (2435)-Ikeda, Rose Valley Open, Round 11.25
After 15...g7-g5 - although White would have been better after 16.Nb3 or 16.b4, after the game continuation 16.fxg5 Nxe5 I was very happy with my position.

So, overall, I pushed my g-pawn to g4 as White or g5 as Black in half of my 22 games I played recently in India! The results in these 11 games was pretty good (of course, it helps that I was White in the majority of these games), with 5 wins, 4 draws and 2 losses against opponents of average rating 2271, for a performance rating of 2432. I'll wait and see if this trend of touching the g-pawn continues.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

2 tournaments in India - summary

by Junta

I returned from India last week - I was satisfied with my performances there, and I'll start writing up some posts on some game themes and snippets.

The Commonwealth Championships was held in Chennai from November 22-December 1. The largest tournament I've played in by far, with 455 players (around 400 being Indian).

150277Sai Kiran Y1654INDAP(ISOG)5.0w 1151.20
246165Siva Mahadevan1935INDTN6.0s 1151.50
338115Raghunandan K S2042INDKAR4.5w 1152.70
4711GMArun Prasad S.2513INDPSPB8.0s 015-3.45
537133WFMSrija Seshadri1990INDTN5.5w ½15-5.40
640113Dhulipala Bala Chandra Prasad2043INDAP6.5s 1152.70
71613GMDeepan Chakkravarthy J.2500INDTN8.0w 11511.25
81429IMHimanshu Sharma2417INDRLYS7.5s ½152.25
91934IMVijayalakshmi Subbaraman2400INDAI7.5w ½151.95
101412GMGrover Sahaj2509INDDEL7.5s ½153.90
112023IMNarayanan Srinath2438INDTN7.5w ½152.70

My most solid performance to date, with 5 wins, 5 draws and 1 loss and 7.5/11. My performance rating was 2441, just short of an IM norm performance, and I picked up 21 rating points. I was quite happy with my play overall, as I held my own against the genuinely strong GMs and IMs. Final standings are here - starting as 50th seed, I placed =28th-51st (41st on ties).

The Rose Valley Open was held in Calcutta from December 3-13. The strongest tournament I've played in by far, where there were 29 GMs and 34 IMs out of the 100 participants!

12526GMVaibhav Suri2494IND6.0w 00.25-0.2515-3.75
25099Madhurima Shekhar1955IND2.0s 10.890.11151.65
32944FMGhosh Diptayan2425IND6.5w 00.34-0.3415-5.10
43348IMSaravanan V.2402IND6.0s ½0.370.13151.95
53351IMKaravade Eesha2385IND5.5s 00.39-0.3915-5.85
64496Rishi Sardana2173IND4.5w 10.680.32154.80
73866IMMurali Krishnan B.T.2345IND4.0s 10.440.56158.40
82949Sagar Shah2393IND5.0w 10.380.62159.30
92131IMDebashis Das2464IND6.0s 00.29-0.2915-4.35
102637IMThejkumar M. S.2442IND5.0w ½0.310.19152.85
112542IMRathnakaran K.2435IND5.0s 10.320.681510.20

I had a shaky first half, playing poorly in Rounds 3 and 5, but was able to fight back in the second half, ending up with 5 wins, 2 draws and 4 losses and 6/11. My performance rating was 2404, and I picked up 20 rating points. Final standings are here - starting as 75th seed, I placed =27th-47th (45th on ties).

I'm very glad I went to play in these tournaments as I had the chance to play with strong players day in and day out, preparing hard for each game, and I've learnt a lot in the process. India is a true chess nation, and I was amazed at the depth and breadth of the talent there - young kids blitz into the middlegame (good knowledge of openings), have sharp tactical awareness and play 'correct' chess, having a feel for what are good and bad moves. 8 Indian players scored norms at the second event alone, with a junior player becoming India's 31st GM by picking up the points to get over 2500.

With strong government support all over the country (including chess schools, chess programs in the school curriculum, strong events throughout the year and support for professional players enabling young players to aspire to choosing it as their career path), I'm sure India will continue to flourish as one of the top chess nations. I look forward to playing there again in the future.

ACT Rapid Championship 2012

by Andrew

Yesterday Junta and I played in the ACT Rapid Championship, which was held in the traditional spot outside King O'Malley's in Civic (the centre of Canberra). It was a 7-round tournament that attracted quite a decent field of 36 players.We both got to 4/4 and played each other in Round 5. The game can be seen below.

Just after Junta took on b3 my clock ran down to zero, so we shook hands and agreed a draw, as he only had a bishop left on the board, and I only had one pawn. In fact, Shaun Press remarked after this that he could have claimed a win because technically checkmate was still possible.

The game in progress. Photo courtesy of Shaun Press.

After this we both won our last two games, and so tied for equal first on 6.5/7, winning $125 each. Unfortunately the title can only go to one person, and in this case Junta won on countback, thus claiming the title of ACT Rapid Champion for the 4th (!) year in a row. This is made particularly impressive by the fact that in one or two of those years GM David Smerdon also played, along with players like FM Endre Ambrus, Yi Yuan, and myself. A write-up of this tournament by Shaun Press can be found here.

Funnily enough we both tied for equal first in the ACT Championship this year as well (though the Lightning was won by someone else). Also funny is the fact that the game shown above could just be our first draw... ever... in tournament chess (and it was barely even a draw!). We have played each other 20+ times in long time control games and quite a few times in rapid and blitz, and as far as I know there hasn't been one indecisive result.

Junta, Moulthun and I will soon be competing in the Austalian Open at Norths Chess Club in Sydney. The tournament is looking very strong with several titled players and norm possibilities, and we are all looking forward to it. The tournament website can be found here. Also, the World Cities Teams Championship has just started - and Australia has a team. Click here to go to the tournament website.

And, last but not least, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

A Christmas Composition

Here is a study that was unintentionally composed by Charles Zworestine and Andrew Brown, based on our analysis of my (Andrew's) game with Jonas Muller in this year's Australian Young Masters.

Black to play and win
C. Zworestine, A. Brown, and H. 1.5a w32, 2012
The solution can be seen by highlighting the text below.


If 1...Kf6 2.a5 Ke7 4.a6 Kd6 5.a7 (5.Bf4+ Kc6 -+) Bd5 6.Bf4+! (6.Bh6 Ke6 -+) Ke6 7.Bh6! draw (If 7...Kd6 8.Bf4+ and repeat the position)

If 1...Be6 2.a5 Bc8 3.Kxc4 Ba6+ 4.Kd4 h5 5.Ke5 draw (the king will be cut off from helping the h-pawn advance.)

2.a5 h4 3.a6 h3! 4.a7 Bd5!! 5.Kxd5 h2 6.a8=Q h1=Q+ Black wins

Unfortunately, here it must be pointed out that the third contributor to this study, Mr or Ms H.1.5a w32 actually turns out to be the computer engine Houdini. Initially this was a "White to play and draw" study, with the second line beginning with 1...Kf6 having been found by Charles and myself. It was only when I had to check over it with the computer that it found the amazing line beginning with  1...h5!.

Nonetheless, I found it to be thoroughly delightful, and hope you enjoyed it too.


Monday, 10 December 2012

2012 MCC Cup Weekender

by Andrew

This year's MCC Cup Weekender was held from the 2nd-6th of November, and had a pretty strong field, with 4 IMs, one IM-elect (with a GM norm), and 2 FMs playing. There was also a number of strong non-titled players; most notably New Zealand Olympic Representative Luke Li (2256), and strong Victorian junior Justin Tan (2250).

Rounds 1-3

Before going to this tournament I'd had an enormous amount of uni assessment to wade through, and during it I had much still to go. Between each of the first 3 rounds I tried in vain to do a bit of study, and my chess suffered. I had made it to 2/2, yet my first three games were riddled with mistakes - the third round game against top seed IM Stephen Solomon, being an absolute disaster. Having confused two different opening ideas, I created huge weaknesses on my queenside early on - though it was not even that which lost me the game. Solo capitalised on my awkward development by playing a quick f4, f5, g4, and I sadly had to allow my bishop to be trapped on h8, as g5 and f6 were more or less unstoppable.

After 16...Bh8. The rest of the game wasn't much fun.

From then on I was basically playing a piece down, and had to give it up later. I had tried for a couple of tricks in the ending, as you do, but Solo was never in danger of letting me snatch half a point.

From this point on my tournament went remarkably well, as I put my uni work aside (wasn't getting anywhere anyway) and focused on the chess. Life lesson learned: never put uni before chess never bring uni work to, or attempt to study at, a chess tournament. Both will suffer horrible fates.

Rounds 4 and 5

In Round four I played Thai Ly (2008) as White. My opponent arrived 20 minutes late to the game, and unfortunately did not know the sharp line of the Botvinnik that I played, so had to spend mcuh more time figuring out what to do. I held a comfortable advantage into the middle game and my opponent missed an interesting exchange sacrifice that might have lead to equality. Instead I won two pawns, and seeing that his only way to develop was to sacrifice more material he resigned.

In Round 5, I played Ari Dale (2161), a strong and up-and-coming Victorian junior; so I knew I would be in for a pretty tough game from the start. Ari played an interesting variation of the Queen's Indian that I had not come across before (novelty?) and I was unable to find any decent plan to push for an advantage. He equalised quite comfortable and was probably slightly better for a portion of the game. Pieces were swapped off, and we reached a Q+R vs. Q+R endgame which was most likely just drawn. However, after a couple of moves were repeated, Ari played on for a win, allowing a queen swap. However after the queen swap it was really only me who could win, and I able to get two, and later three, passed pawns on the queenside. However Ari fought on and I had to work hard to fend off threats of checkmate and perpetual check which I was being faced with left, right and centre. In the end I was able to consolidate and my passed pawns prevailed.

Rounds 6 and 7

So after some degree of turbulence, I had made it to 4/5 and was paired as Black against the leader (on 5/5!) IM-elect Max Illingworth (2394), who had just made his debut as a member of the Australian Olympic Team. The opening was a Maroczy Bind variation of the Accelerated Dragon. This is a rather solid opening and I thought I would stand a better chance with this than I did last year with my Sveshnikov. We got into a queenless middlegame after 15 moves, and the game (I would later find out) had followed theory until then. At one stage I made an interesting decision to swap off my dark-squared bishop for his knight in order to give my knight good prospects. This worked out pretty well, and the position gradually went from equal to slightly better for me. Finally we got into a R+B vs R+B endgame where my pawns were on better sqaures and I had a slight advantage. However I was short of time and misplayed it initially, allowing him to take the initiative. Before long we swapped off bishops and I ended up with an extra pawn, and a position that should have been winning. One or two moves away from promoting, I made a horrible blunder which lead to a draw. (See below.)

Here I suddenly forgot what the difference between pushing my f-pawn and pushing my e-pawn was, and so proceeded with 83...f4?? only to allow White to play the last real trick left: 84.Ra3+, followed by Rb3. The game continued 84...Ke2? (...e3 85.Rb3 Rxb3 86.Kxb3 e2 87.b8=Q e1=Q and Black has good winning chances because of the far advanced pawn and the position of White's king) 85.Rb3 Rxb7 86.Rxb7 f3 (D)

And both sides had to play quite precisely for the rest: 87.Kc3 e3 88.Rb2+ Kf1 89.Rb1+ Ke2 90.Kd4 f2 91.Ke4 (91.Rb2+ Kf3 -+) f1=Q 92.Rxf1 Kxf1 93.Kxe3 1/2-1/2

Full game can be seen here:

I felt that this game was the best of my tournament, despite missing out on the full point. I was disappointed with the finish, but I later found out that it was his birthday that day, so I could at least content myself with the fact that I had not made his birthday a dismal one by winning the game.

In Round 7 I played IM George Xie (2399), who had not had a great start to the tournament, losing two games (and nearly more than that) against lower-rated players. The game was a Queen's Indian, where I had a decent position for a sacrificed pawn in the opening but never really had an advantage. We swapped off into an endgame where he was a bit better but it never looked like it was clearly winning. A dubious winning try by him allowed me to pick up some of his weak pawns and have good chances in the rook ending, which I managed to convert.

After 38.Rh4. White has been moving his rook back and
forth along the 4th rank, holding the Black king at bay.
Here, the ambitious 38...Ra3?! proved to be costly after 39. Rxh5 Rxa4 40. Rh6+ Ke5 41.Rxb6 Ke4 42.Rf6 (D)

This move does quite a bit at once. Firstly it stops the Black king invading with Ra2+ and Kf3, due to Rxf5. Secondly it prevents a thematic f4 push, and thirdly it simply plans to win a pawn with Rxf7. Soon after this some inaccuracies by Black allowed me to win the other f-pawn via a tactic involving a mating net, after which the three connected passed pawns allowed for an easy finish.

Rounds 8 and 9

In Round 8 I was Black against 15-year old Luke Li from NZ (2256), who has recently played a number of tournaments in Victoria, and is now participating in the 2012 Australasian Masters. The game was a King's Indian where White sacs a pawn for a lot of initiative on the queenside. I was never any better in this game, and for a large part of the middlegame I was considerably worse. We got into an interesting endgame where I had two outside passed-pawns for his knight, and it was tricky for him to untangle his pieces without losing material.

After 34.b5

 Here Luke offered a draw, and after about 20 mins of calculation I was not able to find anything that would give me good winning chances, so I accepted the draw. After the game we looked at a lot of interesting lines. After 34...axb5, there are two moves. The move I was most afraid of was 35.a5, with the idea of giving up the knight on d3 to aid in a swift promotion of the a-pawn. The other move was 35.axb5, and after Rb3, 36. Bc7 with some interesting complications arising. Most lines ended in a draw, some were winning for White. Overall I was glad I took the draw when I did, and was still on track to reach my goal score of 7/9.

In Round 9, I played IM Mirko Rujevic (2253) as White. The game followed a familiar story I'd been getting in the tournament: game starts off as a Queen's Indian, I am not able to get any advantage out of the opening and I am even slightly worse, pieces come off and we end up in an equal or += rook ending that I manage to win.

After 29.Bc6
Here I am certainly no better, and probably slightly worse. We repeated moves a few times, with Ne6, Bd7, Nc5, Bc6, and my opponent offered a draw. I thought for a little while about this. I really wanted to finish with 7/9 but to play for a win in a position like this seemed almost absurd. However eventually I decided to play on for a little while and see what would happen. I am glad I did. After some time I was able to infiltrate with my rook and swap off bad-bishop for good-knight, and suddenly the prospect of winning had become quite real. I was very pleased with the rest of the endgame, as I managed to find a number of only moves, leading to a satisfying finish.

After 46...Kg4?
Here I was starting to worry my winning chances had evaporated, but then was very happy to find 47.Rc8!. Now that Black's king is so far advanced, there is nothing to stop the plan of Rb8, b7, R+ along the 8th rank and b8=Q. However Mirko played very accurately here and it turned out to be very close to drawing in the end. The game continued 47...Rb1 48.Rb8 f3+ 49.Kh2 Kf4 50.b7 Ke4 51.Re8+ Kd3 52.b8=Q Rxb8 53.Rxb8 c4 54.Kg3 c3 55.Kxf3 c2 (D)

White to play and win
Read on for the solution.

Here I was in a bit of time trouble and could easily have gone wrong with the natural-looking 56.Rc8. In fact, what I played, 56.Rd8+!, was the only way to win. After 56.Rc8 a3! (...Kd2 57.Ke4 +-) Black is one tempo up on the game, which turns out to make all the difference. The point is that after 56.Rd8+ Kc3 57.Rc8+ Kd2 White now has the crucial square for his king on e4 to win the Q vs. a-pawn endgame, whereas after 57...Kd3 White plays the only move 57.a3! himself, forcing the Black king to move aside. After this was a long forcing sequence which can be seen below:

56...Kc3 57.Rc8+ Kd2 58.Ke4 c1=Q 59.Rxc1 Kxc1 60.f4 Kb2 61.f5 Kxa2 62.f6 Kb2 63.f7 a3 64.f8=Q a2 (D)

65.Qb4+ Kc2 66.Qa3 Kb1 67.Qb3+ Ka1 68.Qc3+ Kb1 69.Kd3 and here, seeing that a1=Q allows Qc2# Black half jokingly promoted to a knight ...a1=N (D) and promptly resigned afterwards.

As far as I can tell, the entire sequence from 47.Rc8! to 69...a1=N was forced, or at least, (from what I can see) both sides played the best moves till the end. For me this was certainly a very satisfying way to finish the game, and the tournament. (And I'd never had quite so many rook endings in one tournament before...) The full game can be seen below.

After my draw with Max in Round 6, he had convincingly pressed on, beating 3 more strong players to finish with an amazing 8.5/9, collecting the $1500 first prize. Solomon came in 2nd with 7.5 winning $750, and I took 3rd place on 7/9, winning $500 (which just payed for the trip!). From this tournament I managed to gain 26 points, with a 2457 performance rating (Max's being 2700+).

Tonight I am flying to Adelaide to play in my last Australian Young Masters, which has been co-organised for the second year in a row by fellow Figjammer Fedja Zulfic. There will be a live blog during the tournament done by GM Ian Rogers - who will also be coaching - on this site, as well as all the other usual details. It should be a really exciting tournament, and I will probably do a wrap up of the tournament sometime in the next couple of weeks, as well as some previous neglected posts.

Leading Final Scores for MCC Cup Weekender 2012:

1st with 8.5/9: IM Max Illingworth (2394)
2nd with 7.5/9: IM Stephen Solomon (2402)
3rd with 7/9: IM Andrew Brown (2263)
4th with 6.5/9: Luke Li (2256)

A full list of scores and other details (including top games) from the tournament and Melbourne Chess Club can be found on their site here, and some other reports on the tournament by arbiter Kerry Stead on his blog here.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

2011 MCC Cup Weekender

by Andrew

The FIDE-rated 2011 Melbourne Chess Club Cup Weekender was held over 5 days from 28th October - 1st November. The tournament didn't attract as many players as previous years, but a number of 2000+ players participated, with GM-elect George Xie being the top seed. Rounds 1-7 of the tournament were held at the Club, on Leicester Street, Fitzroy, with the last two being held at the Fitzroy Town Hall. I stayed with Elizabeth Warren, who was a player in the tournament and a member of the organising committee.

Chess graffiti in the alleyway outside MCC. 

My first game finished fairly quickly after my opponent neglected an important pawn push in the opening and allowed me to gain a lot of space and attack his king. My second round was quite nice; my opponent played an interesting sacrifice in the opening, giving up his knight for my two queenside pawns. Eventually I got my pieces into play and the advantage of having an extra piece became apparent. The game ended with a succession of sacrifices - which this time all happened to be the best move.

After 29.Qf1

The game finished quite explosively with 29...Bxg3! 30.h3 (30.hxg3 Rh1#; 30.fxg3 Qxh2#) Rxh3! 31.Qg2 (31.Qxh3 Qxf2#) Qxf2+! (forcing 32.Qxf2 Rh1#) 0-1

Final position
In my third game I was Black again, this time against FM Max Illingworth. It was a Sveshnikov in which I played a shaky line that I didn't know too well, and I never seem to get the compensation I was looking for after sacking my pawn on f5. He held an advantage for just about the whole game and won quite comfortably.

Analysis area at MCC (also known as the blitz and transfer area).

Round 4 I played the up-and-coming junior Savithri Narenthran, who had drawn with Mirko Rujevic in the first round. The game was a Grunfeld in which I got a decent attack on the kingside but didn't consider for very long a good attacking plan that I had, and instead chose a way to give back any advantage I had and let her get all her pieces into the game. At one stage I was quite worried about a move she could play that would probably leave me significantly worse off. Instead she chose a sacrifice that would have been perfectly sound had I taken it, but I moved another piece instead and created an unstoppable mate threat around her king.

After 22.Qg5?!

22...Rxd4? (22...Qe6 and White is in trouble) 23.Bf6! Bxf6 24.exf6 (creating the threat of Rh8+,  followed by Qh6+ and Qg7#) Rxe2+ 25.Kxe2 Qe6+ 26.Kf2 1-0

N.B: The report on the first 4 rounds was written 1 year ago. The report on Rounds 5 - 9 has been written by Andrew a year later.

Rounds 5 and 6

I was Black against Sylvester Urban in Round 5, a strong local player. The game was a (believe it or not) Sveshnikov that went into a sideline I didn't know well. At one stage I played a strange move which allowed him an opportunity to have an advantage but he chose a different move. A few moves later the game became complicated with me saccing a knight for three pawns and decent counterplay. The counterplay proved to be good enough to secure the point.

In Round 6 I played local IM James Morris as White. The game was a 7.Bb5+ Gruenfeld. I had a decent space advantage for most of the game and at one stage made an interesting decision to sac a pawn for play; soon after which I could have been a fair bit better had a played a normal move. It turned out that I had enough positional compensation to make good use of my pieces and keep his at bay. Before too long (partly as the result of time-trouble) his kingside defences broke down and, facing a significant loss of material, Black had to resign. This was my favourite game of the tournament, and can be seen below.

My Round 7 game can only be described as miserable. Playing top seed George Xie as Black we got into an opening that he had beaten me several times before from. I failed to find a decent plan after he played a line I had not prepared for, and my pieces (rather embarrassingly) became tied up in knots, which was when I had to admit a very early defeat.

Round 8 was against Justin Penrose. I was slightly better after the opening and we headed straight into a queenless ending, with R+R+N each. My pieces were much more active for most of the game, and I ended up winning an exchange. However I became confused about how to proceed while in time pressure and went for a line that should only have drawn - in fact, after another mistake it should have been winning for him. Following blunder after blunder for both side, my usual luck kicked in towards the end I was able to force a pawn promotion.

In the midst of a blunderous endgame.
 In the diagrammed position I played 40.Rxb6? after which the position became very drawish. Instead, 40.Rc5 Kd6 41.Kd4, and White is much better.

 Black now played 53...Rb8? (53...Rb3+ and Black is looking very good). 54.Rxb2 Rf8 55.Rb7 e5 56.Kc3 e4? 57.Rb5+ Kd6 58.Rxf5 +-

My position in the tournament was looking pretty good after Round 8, as I was on 6 points and pretty much guaranteed at least a bit of prize money. Playing White against FM Bobby Cheng, a win would get me outright 2nd and earn me $750, a draw would get me third place ($500). Disappointingly, I wasn't able to take either of these, as I was outplayed in a Stonewall where Bobby had a good space advantage on the kingside. He was able to infiltrate and I was not able to put up much resistance, and so he came outright 2nd with 7.5/9 - a commendable performance. George Xie took first place very convincingly with 8.5/9, and six people shared 3rd place (one of whom was me). Overall not a bad tournament for me - a certain improvement from my mediocre run in Europe. Though it was disappointing to fall away at the end.

Final scores:

1st: IM George Xie (2440) with 8.5/9
2nd: FM Bobby Cheng (2346) with 7.5/9
=3rd: Morris, Solomon, Brown, Rujevic, Garner, Tan, with 6/9

Next year I would have the opportunity to play in this event again and improve on my performance. Would it be the case? Find out soon in my upcoming post: MCC Cup Weekender 2012!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Commonwealth Championships 2012 - Second Half

By Moulthun Ly

Going into the 7th round, Junta was sitting on a solid 4.5/6. Up against GM Deepan Chakkravarthy J. with the white pieces. I remember him well from when we played last year, as the win managed to knock me slightly over the rating barrier, earning me the IM title.

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. O-O d5 6. c4 c6 7. Qb3 Qb6 8. Qa3!?

I can't say I've ever seen this idea been played before. More typical is 8. c5 or nc3 but our player here is far from typical I suppose. Possibly Black has to go for some complications with ...dxc4! and Black should remain with a fine position. Although in the game Black gives white the bishop pair and solid advantage. Junta goes on to convert his advantage effectively, developing a swift king-side attack.

Bg4 9. e3 e6 10. Ne5 Nbd7 11. Nxg4 Nxg4 12. Nc3 a5 13. Qa4 Qb4 14. Qd1 Ngf6 15.
c5 a4 16. Bd2 Qc4 17. Re1 Qa6 18. Bf1 Qa7 19. b3 b6 20. b4 Rfc8 21. a3 h5 22.
Rc1 Nh7 23. h3 bxc5 24. bxc5 e5 25. Ne2 Ng5 26. Bg2 Ne6 27. Bb4 f5 28. g4 h4
29. gxf5 gxf5 30. dxe5 Nxe5 31. f4 Ng6 32. Bf3 Kh7 33. Kh1 Rg8 34. Rg1 Kh6 35.
Qd3 Qf7 36. Rg2 Ne7 37. Rcg1 Bh8 38. Qd1 Rxg2 39. Rxg2 Bf6 40. Qc2 Ng7 41. Bc3
Ne6 42. Qb2 Bxc3 43. Qxc3 Kh7 44. Qe5 Rg8 45. Rxg8 Nxg8 46. Nd4 Nxc5 47. Nxc6
Ne4 48. Bxe4 dxe4 49. Nd4 Nh6 50. Ne6 Qb7 51. Ng5+ Kg6 52. Qd6+ Kh5 53. Qd1+

54. Qxa4 {Time} 1-0 

"very lucky, he was just checking the perpetual check (only move to start checking too) but thought for 1 second too long..."

Round 8 was against an Indian IM whereby he played the french for the first time. Sharma chose a lesser known sideline, which I have currently also been playing with a mixed success rate. The play became quite sharp and both players missed some chances to gain an advantage. "missing easy and not-so-easy wins" (Junta)

Round 9 had him paired against IM Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman. When I first saw this pairing, I was immediately reminded of our previous and only encounter. Almost 5 or so years ago when I played her. The game was in the last round of a big open tournament for my final norm. I played a very effective King's Gambit but failed at the very last hurdle, gifting away free point. After that game, I took a break from chess for a couple of years, before returning. But it still serves as a reminder for me, that the final move is always the one that counts.

The games starts as a typical Spanish, which is good to see from white.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 d6 7. c3 O-O 8. Re1
b5 9. Bc2 Re8 10. a4 Rb8 11. Nbd2 Bf8 12. d4?! [ A little too early to open the position, leaves the white pieces a bit uncoordinated ] Preferable was a simple h3 or Nf1

 ...exd4 13. Nxd4 Bb7 14. axb5 Nxd4
15. cxd4 axb5 16. f3 c5 17. dxc5 dxc5 18. Nf1 c4 19. Be3 Bb4 20. Qxd8 Rexd8 21.
Red1 Kf8 22. Kf2 Rxd1 23. Bxd1 Nd7 24. Bc2 Ne5 25. Ke2 Nc6 26. Rd1 Be7 27. f4
Ke8 28. Ng3 g6 29. e5 Ra8 30. Bb1 Nb4 31. Ne4 Nd5 32. g3 Nxe3 33. Kxe3 Bc8 34.
Nd6+ Bxd6 35. Rxd6 Ra1 36. Be4 Re1+

A critical endgame position is reached, as we know piece activity is important. Therfor 37. Kd4! makes perfect sense. After 37. Kd4 Re2 38. Bc6+ Ke7 39. Bxb5 Rxb2 40. Bc4 Rh2 41. Rc6! with a very small advantage to white due to his activity.

37. Kf3 Bd7 38. Rd2 h5 39. Bd5 Ke7 40. Kf2 Rc1 41. Bxf7 Bf5 42. Bd5 b4 43. Re2 Bg4 44. Bf3 Bf5 45. Bd5 c3 46. bxc3 bxc3 47. Ke3 Bg4 48. Bf3 Bd7 49. Be4 Ba4 50. Kd4 Kf7 51. Kc4 Kg7 52. Kb4 Bd1 53. Ra2 h4 54. gxh4 Bg4 55. Rc2 Rf1 56. Rxc3 Rxf4 57. Rc4 Bf5 58. Bd5 Rf2 59. Kc5 Rxh2

60. Kd6 Rd2 61. e6 Bxe6 62. Kxe6 Re2+ 63. Kd6 Kh6 64. Be6 g5 65. hxg5+ Kxg5 66. Rg4+ Kf6 67. Rf4+ Kg5 68. Rf5+ Kh4 69. Bd5 Re3 70. Kc5 Kg4 71. Rf1 Kg5 72. Rf2 Re1 73. Kd4 Re7 74. Be4 Re8 75. Rf5+ Kh6 76. Ke3 Kg7 77. Rb5 Kf6 78. Kf4 Re6 79. Rb7 Rd6 80. Rc7 Rb6 81. Rh7 Rd6 82. Rh1 Ke7 83. Bf5 Kf6 84. Rg1 Rd4+ 85. Be4 Rd6 86. Rg5 Ke7 87. Bd5 Kf6 88. Rf5+ Kg6 89. Bf7+ Kg7 90. Kg5 Rb6 91. Bd5 Rg6+ 92. Kh4 1/2-1/2

The following round Junta drew with GM Grover, Sahaj as the black pieces. Playing a very interesting sideline with an early ...b6 and ...Bb7 in the Queen's Indian kind of position. He equalized quite comfortably before the game drifted towards a draw.

In the last round, played another IM from India, Narayanan Srinath. Once again managing to draw with his opponent to finish on a respectable 7.5/11. Overall it was a very solid performance, losing only 1 game in the 11 rounds! Looking from the cross table is looks like the tournament results I usually have, with the numerous half points. He will now continue his momentum into the next tournament which is the Kolkata Open, which i believe starts on the 3rd of December. Best of Luck!