My loss in the previous round knocked me out of contention for a prize, but I still wanted to try and equalize my result from 2001. In the final round I had the White pieces against Igor Tsyganov 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. g3 c5 5. Nf3 cxd4 6. Nxd4 a6 7. Bg2 Qc7 8. Bg5 It isn't clear that this is the best square for the bishop (for instance, if Black plays Bxc3 then the a3-f8 diagonal would be a nice home), so 8. O-O is probably preferable. 8... Be7 8... Qxc4 9. Rc1 and White's superior development should be compensation for the pawn. 9. O-O d6 9... Qxc4 10. Rc1 O-O 11. Nd5 10. Rc1 O-O 11. Qd2?! Better is 11. h3 or 11. b3
11... h6 forcing White to part with his dark-squared bishop after which Black has a very comfortable game. He had taken a lot of time so far and I had built up a large lead on the clock, which I quickly gave back trying to come up with a plan. 12. Bxf6 [12. Be3 Ng4] 12... Bxf6 13. Rfd1 Rd8 14. e4 It seemed that space was the only compensation I had for the two bishops, so I played to maintain the space advantage as best I could. 14... Nd7 15. Qe2 Rb8 16. Kh1 Nf8 17. f4 Bd7 18. b3 Rbc8 19. Qe3 Qb8 20. a4 Qc7 21. Nce2 Be8 22. Nf3 Ng6 23. h4 Qa5 24. Bh3 Rb8 25. f5 exf5 26. exf5 Ne5 27. Nxe5 dxe5 28. Nc3 Bc6+ 29. Bg2 Rd4 30. Nd5 Qd8 31. Rxd4 exd4 32. Qf4 Rc8 33. Rd1 Bxd5 34. Bxd5 Qb6 35. Qe4? We were both in serious time trouble at this point, and I miscalculated here although 35. Rd3 Re8 is still very comfortable for Black. 35... Qxb3 36. Bxf7+ Kh8 37. Re1 Qxa4 38. Qxb7 Rf8 39. Bd5 d3 40. Qc6??
A major howler with only a few seconds on my clock. Necessary was 40. Qb1 with a difficult defense similar to the game. Fortunately, my opponent also had only a few seconds left and let me off the hook with 40... Qb4? As pointed out by my opponent immediately after the game 40... d2 is simply a win for Black 41. Rd1 Qb3?! Afterwards I asked him why he didn't keep both of his passed pawns and it turned out that he hadn't seen the continuation. 41... d2 42. Qxa6? Qb3 perhaps now with time to think he had noticed his error on the previous move and that had upset his concentration. 42. Bf3 a5 43. Qd5 Rd8 44. Qxa5 Qxc4 45. Kg2 Qd4 46. Qb5 Be5 47. Re1 Qb2+ 48. Qxb2 Bxb2 I think the worst is over for White now after the queen exchange. Black still has a pull because of his passed pawn, but White will be able to blockade d1 without difficulty because of the opposite colored bishops. 49. Rb1 Bf6 50. Kf1 d2 51. Ke2 Be5 52. g4 Bg3 53. h5 Bf4 54. Ra1 Be5 55. Rb1 Kg8 56. Ke3 Kf7 57. Bd1 Kf6 58. Rb5 Rd6 59. Ra5 Bc3 60. Ra3 Bb4 61. Rb3 Ba5 62. Rb7 Bc3 63. Rb3 Ba5 64. Rb7 Bb6+ 65. Ke2 Bc5 Even with less than a minute on his clock he tries to keep playing for a win, but White's reply stops those thoughts. He played 65... Ba5 without letting go of the piece and realized that 66. Ke3 would be three times repetition, so then transfered it to c5. 66. Bb3 Threatening Rf7+ picking up the g-pawn 66... Bd4 67. Kxd2 Kg5 68. Bd1 Bf6+ 69. Kc2 Rc6+ [Ĺ:Ĺ]
Two straight wins had put me back in contention to start the last day. However, I didnít put in a very good effort in Round 8 with White against my 4th GM opponent, Michael Rohde. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. g3 c5 5. Nf3 b6 6. Bg2 Bb7 7. a3 better is the normal 7. O-O cxd4 8. Qxd4 Nc6 9. Qd3 with a slight advantage to White 7... Bxc3+ 8. bxc3 Nc6 9. Ne5 Na5 10. Bxb7 Nxb7 11. d5 I was probably too influenced by the positive result of my game with Ibragimov, which objectively was not that great of a position for me. White should keep the center fluid for the time being with 11. O-O11... Qc7 12. Nf3 O-O
13. Qd3? I saw this lost a pawn, but was very uncomfortable with my position after 13. O-O e5 14. Qc2 Na5 when I thought 15. Nd2 was forced and the dark squared bishop doesn't have much future. Instead, there was a tactical solution 15. Bg5 Nxc4 16. Bxf6 gxf6 17. Qf5 threatening both Qg4+ and Qxf6 13... exd5 14. cxd5 c4 15. Qc2 Nc5 this seems a little more accurate than 15... Nxd5 16. O-O when e4-e5 might give White some compensation. 16. Bf4 16. Nd4 to cover b3 16... Nxd5 17. O-O Nb3 18. Nxb3 cxb3 19. Qxb3 Nxc3 with clear advantage to Black 16... Qb7 17. Bd6?! If White had any compensation it was associated with the d4 square and bishop vs. knight. The plan initiated by this move throws away both of those assets. 17... Rfe8 18. Bxc5 bxc5 the doubled pawn helps Black by taking away d4 from the White knight. 19. O-O Qxd5 20. Rfd1 Qe6 21. e3 d5 22. Rab1 Qe4 23. Qxe4 Nxe4 24. Rbc1 Nf6 25. Nd2 Kf8 26. h4 Rab8 27. e4 This doesn't work, but passive defense wasn't going to get me anywhere either. 27... Nxe4 28. Nxe4 dxe4 29. Rd7 Re7 30. Rcd1 Rb3 31. Rd8+ Re8 32. R8d7 Rxa3 33. Rc7 Rxc3 34. Rdd7 Rf3 35. Kg2 Rf5 36. Rxa7 h5 37. Ra4 c3 38. Rc4 e3 39. fxe3 Rxe3 40. Rc7 Re2+ 41. Kh3 Rff2 [0:1]
In round 7 I had a rematch from the Emory/Castle Grand Prix with Black against Andy Reeder 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 e6 3. e3 b6 4. Bd3 c5 In Atlanta, I played 4... Bb7 but in that game his light-squared bishop proved to be a dangerous piece, so in this game I wanted to persue a different plan looking to exchange it with ...Ba6. This idea could have been played immediately or over the next several moves. 5. c3 h6 6. Bh4 Be7 7. Nf3 The last chance for White to prevent Ba6 by 7. Qe2 7... Ba6 8. Ne5 Bxd3 9. Qxd3 O-O 10. f4 Nd5 11. Bxe7 Qxe7 12. O-O d6 13. Nc4 cxd4 14. e4!? Ne3 14... Nf6 should also give Black a comfortable game, but I decided to transpose to a Sicilian structure. 15. Nxe3 dxe3 16. Qxe3 Nd7 better is 16... Qc7 making him work to play c4 17. c4 Rac8 18. b3 Nf6 19. Nc3 Rfd8 20. Rfd1 20. Rad1 20... Qb7 21. Rd3 a6 22. a4 Qc6 23. h3?! 23. Rad1 is more to the point. Now, Black can reposition his knight to a better square. 23... Nd7 24. Qd4?
24...Qc5? I looked at the winning line 24... Nc5 25. Rg3 e5 26. fxe5 but didn't realize that I wasn't obliged to recapture on e5 and could instead play 26... Nxb3 -+ 25. Rad1 Qxd4+ 26. Rxd4 Nc5 27. Rxd6 Rxd6 28. Rxd6 Nxb3 29. Rxb6 Nd2 29... Nc1!? deserves attention. After, 30. Rxa6 Rxc4 31. Nb5 Ne2+ 32. Kf2 Nxf4 Black has gotten the f-pawn, leaving the e-pawn as a potential weakness. 30. Kf2 30. Rxa6 Rxc4 31. Nb5 Rc1+ 32. Kf2 (White might find his king in jeopardy after 32. Kh2 Nxe4!? (or if nothing else, Black can repeat the position with 32... Nf1+)) 32... Nxe4+ offers White a slight edge because of his outside passed pawn and more active king. 30... a5 now Black has no worries at all. 31. Ke2 Nxc4 32. Rb1?!
A bit careless, allowing Black a little tactic that gives him the better half of a drawn ending. 32. Rb5 is equal. 32... Ne3! 33. Nd5! After some thought, he found the best reply 33. Kxe3 Rxc3+ 34. Kd4 Ra3 gives Black much better chances for a win. 33... Nxd5 The threat of Ne7+ forced this reply. 34. exd5 exd5 35. Rb5 Rc4 36. Rxa5 Rxf4 37. Rxd5 Rxa4
reaching the drawn ending of R+3P vs. R+2P all on the same side of the board. There really aren't many winning chances, even against passive defense, but there is no danger in playing on, especially since he can't achieve the most desirable defensive structure of pawns on h4 and g3. 38. Kf3 g5 39. g4!? This doesn't spoil anything, but at least now I had a clear plan. I want to play ...h5 and if he takes I have a passed f-pawn. If he doesn't take, I can possibly grab more space with ...h4 when the h3 pawn could potentially become a target. 39... Kg7 40. Kg3 Ra3+ 41. Kg2 Kg6 42. Rd6+ f6 43. Rc6 Re3 44. Rb6 Kf7 45. Rb7+ Re7 46. Rb6 Re6 47. Rb7+ Kg6 48. Rb8 h5 mission accomplished. 49. gxh5+ There really wasn't any danger in not exchanging although White might not feel comfortable with his king on the back rank. 49... Kxh5
The ending f+g vs. h is still a draw, but now Black is getting some practical chances. Emms says that his database shows a 58% winning percentage in this structure illustrating that there are many ways for the defender to go wrong. Spassky managed to win this ending against Judit Polgar in their 1992 match showing that it is not easy even for top players. 50. Rg8 Kh6 51. Kf3 Ra6 52. Rf8 Kg6 53. Rc8 Ra3+ 54. Kg2 Ra5 55. Kf3 Kf5 56. Rc3 Ke5 57. Re3+ Kf5 58. Rc3 Rb5 59. Ra3 Rb6 60. Ra5+ Kg6 61. Ra3 f5 62. Rc3 Kh5 63. Rc8 Rb3+ 64. Kg2 Rb2+ 65. Kf3 f4 perhaps I should have tried this on the previous move. Now, he has a little combination to exchange a set of pawns. 66. Rh8+ Kg6 67. Rg8+ Kf6 68. h4 Rb3+ 69. Kf2 gxh4 70. Rg4 Kf5 71. Rxh4 Ke4 It's still a draw, but sometimes players go wrong when they can't reach Philidor's position, so a few more moves to see how he plays it. I had a small bit of hope when it took him over 5 minutes to make this decision. 72. Rh7 Rb2+ 73. Kf1 and a little more when he didn't play 73. Kg1 getting immediately to the short side. 73... Ke3
74. Ra7? And there it is! This position (or ones similar to it) can be found in any basic endgame book. The correct drawing method is to attach the rook to the f-pawn with 74. Rf7 followed by bringing the king to the short side of the pawn ; 74. Re7+ Kf3 75. Kg1! also draws, but is not as simple 74... Rb1+ 75. Kg2 f3+ 76. Kg3 Rg1+ 77. Kh2 Rg2+? I guess I wore myself down as well as my opponent. I have no explanation why I didn't play 77... f2 -+; which scores a touchdown after White throws in a couple of checks. 78. Kh1? Blowing the chance he was given 78. Kh3= avoids the mate threats White now faces. 78... Re2 78... Kf2? looks good after 79. Ra2+? 79... Kg3! but waiting with 79. Ra8 holds the draw 79. Re7+ Kf2! 80. Ra7 Re6 81. Rh7 Kf1 82. Kh2 f2 83. Rf7 Ke1 84. Kg2 Rg6+ 85. Kh2 f1=Q 86. Re7+ Qe2+ [0:1]
After my good start, I was back to even to start the 4th day, but there was still plenty of chess to be played. I got back into the plus column with a win with White over Richard Francisco. This is the game from the tournament that I was most proud of, even more than my win over Ibragimov. 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 a6 Do the top players influence chess fashion? This variation has been around awhile, but in my first 24 years of tournament chess, this position had never appeared in any of my games. Late last year Kasparov defeated Sasikiran in the Bled Olympiad as Black in this variation. Since then, I have faced this line 4 times. 5. c5 Nbd7 6. Bf4 Nh5 7. e3 Sasikiran played 7. Bd2 to which Kasparov responded with the rare move 7... Qc7 7... g6 8. Bd3 Bg7 9. h3 Nxf4 10. exf4 Qc7 11. Qd2 11. g3 is probably better 11... Bh6 afterwards my opponent suggested the immediate 11... f6 since in the game continuation e2 should be a better square than d2 for the White queen 12. g3 f6 13. Qe2 Bg7 14. f5 quick development with 14. O-O-O indending to meet 14... e5 with 15. Rhe1 deserves attention 14... Nf8 15. Nh4 e5 16. g4 I didn't like 16. fxg6 because of 16... e4 17. gxh7 f5 activating his dark squared bishop, but it looks like the continuation 18. O-O-O Bxd4 19. Bxe4 fxe4 20. Rxd4 is favorable for White 16... e4
17. Bxe4!? A positional piece sacrfice intending to keep Black's pieces in a bind 17... dxe4 18. Nxe4 Kd8 19. Nd6 Qe7 20. Qxe7+ Kxe7 21. O-O I didn't want to allow him to activate his bishop with tempo after 21. O-O-O Bh6+ 21... Bd7 He decided to give back material in exchange for some activity. There are many other choices for Black, but in all cases, one or both of his rooks will be locked in a corner for a long time. 22. Nxb7 I didn't spend much time considering 22. Rae1+ Kd8 23. Nf7+ Kc7 24. Nxh8 Bxh8 Why should I give up my beautiful knight for his undeveloped rook? 22... Rb8 23. Rfe1+ Kf7 24. Nd6+ Kg8 25. b3 Bh6 Black seems to get the worst of it after this move. He activates the bishop into open space and weakens f6. Black needs to try and unravel his kingside but 25... h5 26. Nxg6 Nxg6 27. fxg6 hxg4 28. Re7 doesn't work so maybe 25... g5 26. Ng2 h5 27. Re7 hxg4 28. hxg4 although I still prefer White 26. Ng2 Bd2 27. Re7 gxf5 28. gxf5 h5 29. Rd1 I could have regained my piece with 29. Ne4 Bg5 30. f4 but I thought 30... Rh7 31. Rxh7 Nxh7 32. fxg5 Bxf5 might give him some play, so I kept with the restriction policy. 29... Bg5 30. f4 Bh6 31. Ne4 Bg7 32. Nh4 Re8 33. Rxe8 Bxe8 34. Re1 Bf7 34... Bd7 keeping pressure on f5 and covering the e8 square might be a little bit better, but Black is still tied in knots. 35. Nd6 Bd5 like his dark square counterpart, this bishop gets a taste of freedom, but it hits on nothing. 36. Ng6 Nxg6 37. fxg6 Bf8 37... f5 38. Re8+ Bf8 39. Nxf5 38. f5 Kg7 39. Ne8+ Kh6 40. h4! The crowning of White's play. There is no need to hurry with 40. Nxf6 Black is completely bound and White can improve his position at will. 40... a5 41. Kf2 [1:0]
He's basically out of useful moves. One simple plan would be to play Re3 (or e7 if Black moves Bg7) followed by a march of the king over to the queenside.
I was a little surprised at my pairing for the evening round. With only +1 after 4 rounds, I thought I would get paired down. Instead, I got paired way up and had the Black pieces against the legendary GM Boris Gulko. 1. c4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. d4 d6 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Nf3 e5 7. O-O Na6 8. Re1 c6 9. Bf1 Bg4 10. d5 c5 11. h3 Bxf3 Better is 11... Bd7 as in the high-level game Piket-Topalov, Tilburg 1998. Preserving the bishop is better since it helps enforce ...f5 and would later be necessary in assisting any kingside attack. I was under the influence of my game with Dimitry Gurevich where I got a good position by exchanging on f3. However, in that game I had already gotten ...f5 in. 12. Qxf3 Ne8 Again, not appreciating the differences from the Gurevich game. Better is 12... Kh8 with the idea of exchanging off the bad bishop with Ng8 and Bh6. 13. Bd3 Qd7 14. g4 Nac7 the immediate 14... Qe7 might be an improvement. I was trying to provoke a4, but White is faster on the queenside with b4 15. Rb1 Qe7 15... a6 16. b4 16. Qg3
16...Bf6?! Even after all the small mistakes I have made, I could have kept White's edge to a minimum by first repositioning my worst placed piece with 16...Nf6 followed by ...Nd7 before undertaking further kingside action. 17. g5 Bg7 18. Bd2 f6 19. h4 Rf7 20. Kg2 Bf8 21. f4 exf4 22. Bxf4 fxg5 23. hxg5 Bg7 23... Rxf4 24. Qxf4 Bg7 transposes to the game after 25. e5 but this might have been a better practical way to sacrifice the exchange, making him find the clearance sacrifice. Black would have more compensation for the exchange if he could occupy e5 with the White pawn on e4 since the extra pawn is a small tradeoff for access to the e4 square. 24. e5 Rxf4 25. Qxf4 Bxe5 26. Qg4 Rd8 27. Ne4 b6 28. Re2 Na6 29. Rf1 Nb8 30. Nf6+ Nxf6 31. gxf6 Qf7 32. Bf5 Kh8 33. Be6 Qf8 34. Qxg6 Nd7 35. Qf5 Qh6 36. Rh1 [1:0]
The morning of day 3 I had White against Joseph Mucerino. I played an unsound piece sacrifice early in this game and had to fight a long uphill battle to eventually get a half point. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. Nc3 axb5 6. e4 b4 7. Nb5 d6 8. Nf3 g6 9. e5 dxe5 10. Nxe5 Bg7 11. Bc4 O-O 12. O-O Ba6 NCO concludes here with the assessment slight advantage to Black, but that is probably not quite correct. 13. Qe2 Fedorowicz gives 13. Re1 Bxb5 14. Bxb5 Qxd5 15. Qe2 with approximate equality. This seems to be bourne out by my database, which shows a 50% score from this position. 13. a4!? is another way to approach the position. My move is probably inferior to 13. Re1 since now Black does not have to give up the bishop pair in order to take on d5. 13... Nxd5
14. Nxf7? Rxf7 15. Qe6 Bb7 Only here did I see the defense with Ra6 that I had overlooked when sacrificing the knight. 16. Rd1 Ra6 17. Rxd5 Bxd5 18. Qxd5 Qxd5 19. Bxd5 e6 20. Bc4 Rb6 21. a4 bxa3 22. Rxa3 Rd7 23. Rd3 Rxd3 24. Bxd3 Kf7?! This gives White the opportunity to exchange off the queenside pawns because of a tactical shot. The position should still be won for Black, but having all the pawns on one side gives White much greater drawing chances. 25. Be3 Bd4 25... Nd7 26. b4 26. Bxd4 cxd4 27. Nxd4 Rxb2 28. g3 Kf6 28... Rd2 29. Nf3 shows the problem with 24...Kf7 29. Nf3 Nd7 30. Kf1 White has to adopt a somewhat awkward formation because of the threat ...Nc5-e4 with a double attack on f2. 30... Nc5 31. Be2 Ne4 32. h4 h6 Black starts to lose the thread over the next several moves. 32... Nc3 followed by e5-e4 and further activation of the king, looks like a better plan. There doesn't seem to be a reason to touch the kingside pawns at this point. 33. Nh2 h5 and fixing the pawns on the same color as White's bishop certainly can't be right. 34. Nf3 Nd2+?! If this was his intention, why not play it on move 32 when his pawn structure is better? 35. Nxd2 Rxd2
There don't seem to be many examples of endings of this type. If the black e-pawn and White f-pawn are removed, the position is a known fortress (although the defense can be tricky). With the extra pawns, I found several examples where the defender had a bishop on the same color as his pawns, which is much more difficult to hold. I only found one example with a pawn structure similar to this game, Mapelle-Menjon, Massey 1993, where the defender was able to immediately play B-K4 attacking the pawns and held a draw without much difficulty. But as in the present game, the attacker quickly traded the g and h pawns which makes defending much easier. As will be discussed in the next note, Black could try various ideas without any risk and could always come back to the plan of exchanging the g and h pawns. 36. Bf3 Kf5 37. Kg2 e5 38. Bb7 g5?! If there is a win I think Black has to try to penetrate with his king in order to attack f2 twice. Of course the problem is that White can attack the g and h pawns with his bishop, but there is no risk for Black as his rook can defend g6 from the third rank. Perhaps Black can play ...e4 at some point to close off the b1-h7 diagonal. White canít get too adventurous with his bishop since if the e and f pawns do get exchanged he has to be ready to place his bishop on the long diagonal. 39. hxg5 Kxg5 40. Be4 h4 41. gxh4+ Kxh4 42. Kf3 I didn't know that White could make a fortress here with 42. Bf3 and was a bit wary of passive defense since if the pawns are exchanged my king would be close to the wrong corner for defense of the B vs. R ending. So I played to keep his king off of f4 and pawn off of e4. I also wanted to avoid the setup of pushing the pawn to f3 for fear that Black could penetrate on the dark squares and sacrifice the exchange on that square, although that is how Manjon defended in the above-mentioned game. Later, I found the following position by Averbakh in ECE that shows the fortress. White: f2, Be2, Ke1 Black: e4, Kf4, Ra2 a much more favorable position for Black than the present game, but White still holds the draw with 1. Kf1! Ra1 2. Kg2 Rb1 3. Bh5! (to keep the Black king off of f3). 3...Re1 4. Be8 Re2 5. Kf1 Rd2 6. Bh5 = since Black can't keep White in the wrong corner after 6...e3 7. fxe3+ Kxe3 8. Bg4] 42... Kg5 43. Ke3 Rb2 44. Bd3 Rb4 45. Bc2 Rf4 46. Be4 Kh4 47. Bg2 Kg4 48. Ke2 Rd4 49. Ke3 Rb4 50. Bf1 Rb3+ 51. Ke4 Rb2 on 51... Rb1, I had planned the following line 52. Be2+ Kh3 (52... Kh4 53. Bd3 and White will force Kxe5 or f4; 52... Kg5 doesn't seem to be making any progress.) 53. f4 Re1 54. fxe5 Rxe2+ 55. Kf5!= although it may be safer from a practical point of view to just play 53. Bd3 and similar to the line with 52...Kh4, White will soon force f4.
52. Kxe5 Rxf2 With a drawn ending, but he decided to play it out for the full 50 moves. I suppose I could have immediately headed for the a1 corner and maybe gotten a triple repetition before 50 moves, but I think it is better to hang around the center for as long as possible since there is almost no danger there. 53. Bd3 Rf4 54. Be4 Kg5 55. Bd3 Rf3 56. Ke4 Rf8 57. Bc4 Re8+ 58. Kd5 Kf5 59. Bd3+ Kf4 60. Bg6 Rd8+ 61. Kc4 Ke5 62. Kc3 Rc8+ 63. Kd3 Rg8 64. Bf7 64. Bh7? Rg7 shows that there are ways to go wrong with the king in the center 64... Rg4 65. Kc3 Rd4 66. Ba2 Ke4 67. Bb1+ Ke3 68. Ba2 Rd1 69. Bb3 Rc1+ 70. Kb2 Kd2 71. Bf7 Rc7 72. Bd5 Rc5 73. Be6 Rb5+ 74. Ka1 Kc2 75. Bf7 Kc1 76. Ka2 Kc2 77. Bg6+ Kc3 78. Bf7 Rb2+ 79. Ka1 Rf2 80. Bd5 Rd2 81. Bf7 Rb2 82. Bg6 Kb3 83. Bf7+ Ka3 84. Bg6 Rg2 85. Be4 Rg1+ 86. Bb1 Rg5 87. Bc2 Rg2 88. Be4 Re2 89. Bg6 Re6 90. Bc2 Rb6 91. Be4 Kb3 92. Bd5+ Kc2 93. Be4+ Kc1 94. Bd5 Rb1+ 95. Ka2 Rb5 96. Bf7 Kc2 97. Bg6+ Kc3 98. Bf7 Ra5+ 99. Kb1 Rf5 100. Bg6 Rf6 101. Be4 Rb6+ 102. Ka2 Rb4 [Ĺ:Ĺ]
I was brought back down to earth in round 3 with the Black pieces against Macedonian GM Vladimir Georgiev. 1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. d4 Nf6 4. e4 d6 5. Bd3 c5 6. d5 e6 7. Nge2 exd5 8. cxd5 O-O 9. Bg5 a6 10. a4 Nbd7 11. O-O Qc7 12. h3 Ne5!? Normal is 12... Re8 with the usual followup of ...c4 ...Nc5 etc. when Black should probably be a little better against Whiteís somewhat artificial set-up. Black should also be OK after the more ambitious text. 13. Bc2 Rb8 This may be starting to get a bit too ambitious. At some point, Black needs to play ... Re8 restraining e5. This can be followed by further restraint with ...Nd7 and only then queenside action. 14. f4 Nc4 15. Qc1 b5 The last chance for 15... Re8 16. axb5 axb5 17. b3 Na5 18. f5 b4?
This gets hit with a powerful refutation that I had completely missed.. I didnít want to let my bishop get buried by 18... Nd7 19. f6 Bh8 Better was 18... c4 so if White plays as in the game with 19. e5 dxe5 20. Bxf6 Bxf6 21. Ne4 the open g1-a7 diagonal gives Black a defensive resource. 21... Qb6+ 19. e5!! bxc3 19... dxe5 20. Bxf6 Bxf6 21. Ne4 and now Black's queen can't defend the bishop since it will be overloaded defending the knight on a5 as well, so White will have a quick mating attack with f6 Qh6 and Ng5 20. Bxf6 Stronger than 20. exf6. This way Black's dark-squared bishop is eliminated leaving gigantic holes around his king 20... Nxb3 21. Bxb3 Rxb3 22. Bxg7 Kxg7 23. f6+ Kh8 24. Qh6 Rg8 25. e6 c2 26. Ra8 Rb7 27. e7 Qd7 28. Nc3 Rb4 28... g5 29. Re1 +- 29. Re1 g5
threatening ...Rh4, but allowing White a nice finish In any case, 29... Qe8 30. Ne4 is also hopeless. 30. e8=Q Qxe8 31. Qg7+ Rxg7 32. Rxe8+ Rg8 33. Rxg8+ [1:0] Thatís the way it goes in long, big opens. You have your ups and downs sometimes all in the same day.
The last time I played in the World Open, my rating was a bit higher and I found myself right at the bottom of the top half after the first round. This year I was just on the other side, so I found myself paired all the way up to Board 4, on the wall boards, with White against GM Ildar Ibragimov. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. g3 c5 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 Qa5!?
This move does not appear to have received much testing. 8. Bd2 The bishop is a bit awkward here, but I wasn't convinced that White had enough compensation after 8. O-O Qxc3 9. Bf4 (or 9. Bg5) although my database shows a large plus score for White. I also found a game between two Canadian masters where White was successful sacrificing a different way with 8. Qd3 cxd4 9. Bd2 dxc3 10. Bxc3 in Rohland-South Toronto 1978 8... d6 White is fine after the direct attempt to win the c-pawn 8... Qa6 9. Qb3 Na5 10. Qb5 Nxc4 11. Qxa6 bxa6 12. Ne5 9. O-O e5 9... Qa6 10. Bf4 Na5 11. dxc5 dxc5 12. Ne5 Nxc4? 13. Qd3 10. Qc2 h6 11. e4 Qc7 12. d5 Na5 13. Qd3 b6 14. Be1 Bd7 15. Nd2 Qc8 16. f4 this may not be the best plan since Black seems to be better placed to play on the kingside. So White should look to the queenside for counterplay and thus will have to at some point challenge the Black knight with 16. Nb3 so perhaps this was the time to play that move. 16... Bh3 17. f5 Bxg2 18. Kxg2 Qd7 19. a4 The final chance to play 19. Nb3 without having to spend an extra move with Rfb1 (which also takes a defender away from the kingside) to prepare it 19... O-O-O 20. Bf2 20. Qb1!? with the idea of 21. Qb5 20... Rdf8 21. Rfb1 g6 22. fxg6 22. Nb3 Nxb3 23. Rxb3 gxf5 24. exf5 e4 22... fxg6 23. h3 g5 24. Nb3 Qh7 25. Nxa5 bxa5 26. Rb5 playing passively with 26. Re1 didn't feel right. After 26... g4 Black is taking over the initiative, so I burned my bridges for the attack. 26... Qxe4+ 27. Qxe4 Nxe4 28. Rab1!?
This may be a bit too much, but I'm still not sure. 28. Be1 Kc7 29. Rxa5 (29. Rab1 Rb8 and the knight should be superior to the bishop in the ending.) 29... Kb6 30. Rb5+ Ka6 when the Black king is safe so Black should have an edge thanks to the passed e-pawn and better minor piece. 28... Kd8? After this White is in firm control of the position. It looks dangerous to grab the piece with 28... Rxf2+ 29. Kg1 since White is threating mate as well as skewering the rook on h8, but 29... Rd8 solves both problems by guarding the rook and giving the king a bolt hole at e8. 30. Rb7 (White can regain the piece with 30. Re1 but the ending after 30... Rf3 31. Rxe4 Rxg3+ 32. Kh2 Rxc3 doesn't look too healthy.) 30... Rf3 31. Rxa7 Nf6 (31... Rxg3+?! 32. Kh2 and the knight is again tied to the defense of the rook so White will be able to play Rbb7 and get a perpetual.) Now, White doesn't seem to have enough for his piece, but 32. Rb6!? is still very tricky. 32... Rxg3+ 33. Kh2 Rxc3 34. Rc6+ Kb8 35. Rca6 (35. Rf7!?) and it seems that White is still quite alive. 29. Be1 Ke7? Black is in difficulties, but this drops a piece. 30. Rb7+ Kf6 31. Kf3! catching the knight in the middle of the board. 31... Nxg3 32. Bxg3 Kg6+ 33. Ke2 h5 34. Rxa7 h4 35. Bh2 Rf6 36. Rf1?! A time pressure mistake. There is no need to challenge the f-file, especially since it gives up the b-file, which seems pretty unimaginable if you look at the position a few moves before. 36. Rxa5 Rhf8 37. Bg1 g4 38. hxg4 h3 39. Be3 and the game should soon be over. 36... Rb8 37. Rxf6+ Kxf6 38. Bg1 Rb2+ 39. Kf3 39. Kd3 Rg2 40. Be3 Rg3 41. Rxa5 Rxh3 42. Ra6 39... Rc2 40. Rd7?! Another mistake on the last move of the time control. The black king easily controls the passed d-pawn. White's problem is Black's active rook, so he should take measures to limit that activity by creating a passed a-pawn with 40. Rxa5 40... Rxc3+ 41. Be3 Rxc4 42. Rxd6+ Kf5 43. Rd8 e4+ 44. Ke2 Rc2+ 45. Bd2 c4 46. Kd1 Ra2 47. Rg8 Ra3 48. Rxg5+ Kf6 49. Rg4 Ke5 50. Rxh4 Kxd5 51. Rh8 c3 51... Rxa4? 52. Rh5+ followed by 53. Rxa5 exchanging rooks, when White wins since his bishop is on the same color as the queening square of the rook pawn. 52. Bc1 Ra2
53. Rh5+? I think this is where the win finally turns into a draw. I was getting frustrated at my inability to bring home the point. I think the win is still there by running the h-pawn with 53. h4 Kc4 54. h5 53... Kd4 54. Rxa5 e3 55. Rg5 e2+ He spent quite a bit of his remaining time (down to about 2 minutes with a 5 second delay) before playing this move. I'm not sure if he was just double checking that the rook ending was a draw, or if he was considering 55... Rh2!? which also seems to lead to a draw. 56. Ke1 Ra1 57. Kxe2 Rxc1 58. Rg4+ Kc5 59. Rh4 Perhaps it is slightly better to play 59. Kd3 which at least carries the threat Rc4+ followed by Rxc3, but it is still a draw after 59... Rh1 60. Rc4+ Kb6 61. Rh4 Rc1 62. Rh5 The position is now drawn, but perhaps Black is still a little uncomfortable. He doesn't even need the c-pawn to draw, but psychologically, he would rather just play against an h-pawn, rather than a+h since there is greater room to go wrong against two pawns, especially with limited time on the clock. 59... Rg1 60. Kd3 Rg3+ 61. Kc2 Kb6 62. Kb3 Ka6 63. Rh6+ Ka5 64. Rh5+ Ka6 65. Rh4 Ka5 66. Rh6 Rf3 67. h4 Rh3 68. h5 c2+ trading c for a rather than giving up the c-pawn for nothing. The resulting ending is still drawn, but there is no reason that White shouldn't make Black play a few exact moves, especially when Black has to make his moves with only a few seconds to reflect on them. 69. Kxc2 Kxa4 70. Kd2 Kb5 71. Ke2 Kc5 72. Kf2 Kd5 73. Kg2 Rh4 74. Kg3 Rh1 75. Kf4 Rf1+ 76. Kg5 Ke5 77. Ra6 Rg1+ 78. Kh6 Kf5 79. Kh7 Rb1 80. Rg6 Rb7+ 81. Rg7 Rb8 82. Rf7+
82... Ke6? White's persistence finally pays off. The draw was in hand with 82... Kg5! 83. h6 Rb6 84. Rg7+ Kh5= 83. Kg7 Rb1 84. Rf6+ Now the White rook can block check both horizontally and vertically. He sat there shaking his head in disbelief at what he had done until his time ran out. [1:0] and a nice round of applause from the crowd.
Since I haven't annotated full games in awhile, I've decided to post all of my World Open games. In the first round, I had Black against a player from Australia, Nicholas Kordahi. I was kind of happy to play a foreign player since in tournaments like the World Open, you always have to have an IM norm as a goal, and playing foreign players is a necessary component to achieving that. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. Qe2 Be7 10. Rd1 O-O 11. c4 This variation seems to have fallen out of fashion. This game was played July 2, 2003. The last time I had this position in a tournament game was nearly 20 years ago to the day, July 3, 1983, against Richard George in the Western Open. 11... bxc4 12. Bxc4 Qd7 Against George, I played the equally popular 12... Bc5 13. Bxd5?!
I had never run across this move before, but it looks like he miscalculated. 13... Bxd5 14. Qxe4 Bxe4 15. Rxd7 Bxf3 16. gxf3 Rfd8 17. Rxd8+ 17. e6 fxe6 18. Rxd8+ Rxd8 is an alternative. White will then have e4 for his knight, but Black can attack the f3 pawn with his rook along the f-file 17... Rxd8 18. Nc3 Nxe5 19. Kg2 Nd3 20. Rb1 Ne1+ Playing for a mating attack, but all I succeed in doing is trading my active knight for his passive bishop. Better is 20... f5 trying to restrict White's knight 21. Kg3 Rd6 It was probably better to just admit my mistake and retract the last move with 21... Nd3
22. Bg5! best. Now White is close to equality. 22... Bxg5 23. Rxe1 f5 24. Rd1 Activating the rook with 24. Re8+ should also come into consideration 24... Bd2 Black keeps a slight edge after 24... Rxd1 25. Nxd1 but I was worried that he could set up a fortress. Now, Black threatens 25...Bxc3 26. Rxd6 Be5+ 25. Kg2 Kf7 26. Nb1 Rg6+ 27. Kf1 Bf4 28. h3 Rc6 c4 looked like a good outpost for his knight, so I was trying to keep it from getting there. 29. Nc3 29. Na3? heading for c4 is met by 29... Bc1 29... Be5 30. Rd3 Rb6 31. b3 Rc6 32. Nd5 Rc1+ 33. Ke2 Ke6 I wanted to continue to limit his knight with 33... f4 but was worried about variations like 34. Kd2 Rh1 35. Nxc7 so decided I had to centralize the king first 34. a4 I thought he would seize the chance to reroute the knight to c4 with 34. Ne3 although Black would still have an edge. 34... f4
Now White's knight is starting to really run low on squares. ...a5 and ...Rc5 trapping it in the middle of the board is becoming a real threat. Additionally, it is not clear how White is going to defend his h-pawn. 35. Nb4? This loses at once. 35. Kd2 had to be tried, but 35... Rh1 (35... Rc5 also looks pretty good.) 36. Nb4 a5 37. Nc6 Bd6 favors Black. 35... Bc3 36. Rxc3 Rxc3 37. Nxa6 Kd6 38. b4 Ra3 39. Nc5 Kd5 40. a5 c6 41. a6 g5 42. Ne4 h6 43. Nf6+ Kc4 44. Ng4 Rxa6 45. Nxh6 Kxb4 46. Nf7 Ra5 0:1
According to this page on the Random House site, Ruben Fine's Basic Chess Endings is finally going to be updated. This update is long overdue, and I think they have made a wise selection in Pal Benko to do the update. It will be interesting to see how this new edition compares with Muller and Lamprecht's Fundamental Chess Endings, which has to now be considered the model for such one volume endgame works. I am also curious to see if Benko sticks with examples from 1941 (the BCE publish date) and earlier or if he includes more recent examples when correcting analysis.
For now, I'm going to keep my small page of corrections up, but I'll probably change the text on the index page. I probably won't be adding many more examples.
The latest FIDE rating list has been out for a couple of weeks. There wasn't much movement at the top. The big 4 remain the same: 1. Kasparov 2. Kramnik 3. Anand 4. Leko Topalov took over the clear fifth spot by not playing. Shirov, who had been tied for 5th dropped to 7th after a subpar Dos Hermanas tournament. The only big move in the top 10 was by Alexander Grischuk, who gained 31 points to jump from 15th to 6th after big results in the French and German leagues. Club 2700 still has 16 members. Boris Gelfand and Alexander Khalifman dropped out, but they were replaced with new European champion Zurab Azmaiparashvili and Nigel Short. While Short has been higher in the rankings, I think this may be the first time he has cracked the 2700 mark.
The top 5 US players remained the same (1. Onischuk 2. Kaidanov 3. Seirawan 4. Goldin 5. Novikov) with the top 4 still in the top 100 overall. The next 5 US players were the same, but shuffled positions (6. Ibragimov 7. I. Gurevich 8. Gulko 9. Benjamin 10. Shabalov).
The Chicago Open was to close to the cutoff date to be rated, so my rating stayed the same for the second straight period. This time, however, I managed to gain a couple of spots, up to #152 on the US list.
I'm back and somewhat recovered from last week's World Open. This event is always tough, and this year I found it even more grueling as not only did I face strong opposition (4 GMs), but also had very long games, averaging 60 moves, with 4 of them going more than 5.5 hours. I guess it was appropriate that my last round game was the final game to finish in the Open section.
I was a little bit disappointed with my 5-4 score, a bit lower than I have scored in the past. Still, it was a satisfactory result against the competition I faced and I did remain in the running for an excellent result until round 8. The very good news was that I score my second win over a GM, taking out Ildar Ibragimov in Round 2. This game was played on the top boards, so I got a nice round of applause from the crowd when the game finished. I still haven't even begun to look over my games yet, so it will probably be a few more days until I post some games.