Sunday, 18 September 2016

My analysis of Maze - Goh, Helsingor 2016

A highly critical game that I needed to at least make a draw to keep my GM norm chances alive. Ultimately, I was overpowered by my strong opponent but the game was very complex and I had good chances at certain points in the game. Enjoy!

A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)
[Event "Xtracon Chess Open"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.07.30"] [Round "9"] [White "Sebastien Maze"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2628"] [BlackElo "2435"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "109"] {This was an extremely important game in the tournament as a win would mean a GM norm and a draw followed by a win in the last round would have given me very good chances for a 10 game norm. Just like any other sport, it is important to come to a chess game and focus all your energy on the game but if there's a good time to really use everything in the tank, this would be it. Unfortunately, I started my pre-game preparation by doing something I really shouldn't have done - I played in the festival's blitz tournament the night before! The tournament ended around midnight and I was completely exhausted at the end. I could have put the 3-4 hrs to good use by checking my lines and catch a good night sleep. I tried to justify my decision by thinking that I should play the blitz despite the importance of the next day's game as I have already paid the entry fees. This was irrational and I was merely trying to come up with excuses to make myself feel better on making a bad decision. The result may or may not have been different but the blitz definitely broke my momentum somewhat and I heavily regretted playing it especially after this game.} 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 $6 {As already mentioned, a win would grant me a 9 game GM norm, and that a draw in this round, followed by a win in the last round might also be sufficient for a 10 game norm. As such, given that a win is not particular vital at this point, I understood the importance of playing solidly especially when I knew that my opponent would probably play seriously for the win. In this respect, it can be argued that the French Winawer, an opening known for its huge complexity and aggressiveness is not the best opening choice for this particular round. It is therefore quite important to be flexible in your opening preparation especially when you may need to face very strong opposition. You should always have a very solid line and a line where you can play for a win although that normally comes in exchange for some risk. In my opinion, this flexibility in your repertoire is even more important when you are having the Black pieces.} 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 {This particular move order is played to avoid some of White's options.} ({For instance,} 6... Qc7 7. Qg4 Ne7 8. Bd3 {is a line that is not that dangerous but it requires a fair amount of study.}) (6... Qa5 {is probably a more "solid" line that I mentioned earlier and it has recently become very fashionable mainly thanks to the efforts of GM Kovalenko who has scored many wins with it recently.}) 7. h4 $1 {My opponent played this very quickly and has obviously prepped this. I smelt a rat but decided to continue with the mainline in my notes anyway.} (7. Qg4 cxd4 8. Qxg7 ({Comparing with my note to Black's 6th,} 8. Bd3 {can now be met with} Qa5 $1 {although there are complications there that have to be worked out. The young Indian star Parimajan Negi had recommended this approach in his 1.e4 GM Repertoire series.} ) 8... Rg8 9. Qxh7 Qc7 {is the traditional Winawer Poisoned Pawn, one of my favourite openings of all time. In round 4, my game with Daniel Naroditsky continued} 10. Ne2 Nbc6 11. f4 dxc3 {and now, the young American talent continued with the trendy} 12. h4 $5 {and had very good chances to obtain a significant opening edge. The game eventually ended in a wild draw.}) 7... Nbc6 {A slightly different move order that was designed to confuse. I had already played 2 games with this move and it was slightly naive of me to repeat the line despite knowing that my opponent must have prepped seriously against this. On the other hand, I didn't have a back-up to what I usually play and this cost me dearly in this game.} ({After what transpired in the game, perhaps the classical move order with} 7... Qa5 8. Bd2 Qa4 {should be considered.} 9. h5 { and now, a recent game of the French expert Emmanuel Berg continued} b6 (9... h6 $5) 10. h6 gxh6 11. Nf3 Ba6 12. Bxa6 Nxa6 13. Bxh6 cxd4 14. Nxd4 (14. cxd4 Rc8 15. Rc1 Rg8 {is fine for Black according to Berg.}) 14... Rc8 15. Qf3 Nc5 16. Bg7 Rg8 17. Rxh7 {and now in Smirin,I (2644)-Berg,E (2549) Minsk 2014,} Nc6 $3 $17 {with the idea of defending f7 with ...Rc7 if the need arises gives Black a significant advantage.}) 8. h5 $1 ({After the innocuous} 8. Nf3 {,} f6 $1 $132 {leads to interesting play where I believe Black is able to generate a fair amount of counterplay. This has been analysed in Steel - Goh, Istanbul Olympiad 2012 elsewhere on the blog.}) 8... Qa5 9. Bd2 cxd4 $6 {Again, naively following a previous game of mine and continuing to walk into my opponent's prep. Against a 2600+ GM who is known to be well versed with high level engines, this is almost a suicidal approach. However, I was unable to find a satisfactory alternative and if White indeeds gets an opening edge by force, the entire move order with 7...Nbc6?! may no longer be playable.} (9... Qa4 10. h6 gxh6 {is a line although I think} 11. Rb1 $1 {gives White some initiative.}) ({I was also not entirely satisfied with Black's position after} 9... h6 10. Qg4 Nf5 11. Bd3 O-O 12. Nf3 {when Black seems to be passively placed.}) (9... Bd7 {is the old mainline that was favored by the famous French expert, Germany's Wolfgang Uhlmann.}) 10. cxd4 Qa4 11. h6 $1 {White continues to blitz out the opening moves. Here, I was starting to feel more and more intimidated.} ({The famous stem game Kasparov - Anand continued} 11. Nf3 Nxd4 12. Bd3 { but this line has been largely diffused recently.}) ({The position arising after} 11. c3 Qxd1+ 12. Rxd1 h6 {is also known to be completely fine for Black despite White's having the bishop pair as Black would gain sufficient counterplay down the c-file and playing on the light squares with ...Bd7, ... Na5 & ...Rc8.}) 11... Qxd4 12. Nf3 Qe4+ 13. Be2 Nxe5 14. Bc3 $1 {The principled option.} ({Both} 14. Kf1 Nxf3 15. Bxf3 Qc4+ 16. Be2 Qd4 {and}) (14. hxg7 Rg8 15. Kf1 Nxf3 16. Bxf3 Qd4 {are fine for Black.}) 14... f6 15. hxg7 ({ A recent game of mine that was in the database continued} 15. Nxe5 fxe5 16. Qd2 $2 g6 $1 {and Black was much better although I eventually suffered a horribly painful defeat. This was covered in another article elsewhere on this blog. This fact that this game is on the database has not slipped my mind and at this juncture, I was certain that I was walking into some high level opening preparation. In such sharp lines, it is entirely possible to lose immediately from the opening with deep analysis and I became worried.}) 15... Rg8 16. Qd2 $1 $146 {The big novelty that my opponent had prepped.} ({The mainline in my notes continued} 16. Nxe5 fxe5 17. Qd3 Qxd3 18. Bxd3 d4 19. Bb4 Rxg7 20. Rxh7 Rxh7 21. Bxh7 {and in ½-½ (62) Miton,K (2383)-Shabalov,A (2620) Stratton Mountain 1999, White has sufficient compensation for the pawn deficit in view of his powerful bishops.}) 16... Rxg7 17. O-O-O $1 {Energetic follow up from my opponent. White is a couple of pawns down so he had to continue his active play and not allow Black to consolidate his forcces easily. Specifically, it was essential for him to stop Black from castling long.} ({For example,} 17. Nxe5 fxe5 18. f3 Qf5 19. Bd3 Qf6 20. Rh6 (20. Bxh7 $6 {gives Black time to do what he wants with} Bd7 21. Rh6 Qf8 $1 {with the idea} 22. Bxe5 Rxg2 $1) 20... Ng6 {followed by ...Bd7}) 17... N7c6 {Played after 30 mins of thought. Black's idea was simply to strengthen e5, and at some point, ...Rc7 may be a possibility.} ({My opponent had analysed} 17... Bd7 18. Nxe5 fxe5 19. Bh5+ $1) ({and} 17... N7g6 18. Nxe5 Nxe5 19. Bh5+ $1 {both leading to a large edge for White. There is no need to go into any deep variations here but it just goes to show how detailed my opponent's preparation was. Fortunately, my opponent had not analysed the move played in the game.}) {At this point, my opponent had 1 hr 35 mins on the clock while I was already down to 55 mins. This is a significant time advantage and also in practical terms, I had already invested too much energy just to stay alive from the opening. In this respect, it is clear that White's opening choice was a tremendous success.} 18. Nxe5 {The first independent move that my opponent had to make and he immediately makes an inaccuracy! Still, the position remained very tricky and complex.} ({ As my good friends on a particular Facebook group chat soon discovered,} 18. Nd4 $3 {is an incredibly strong move. The point is to immediately weaken the e5 knight indirectly, and at the same time, open up the possibility of nasty Bh5 checks, creating ideas of f3 or f4, followed by Rde1. For example,} Nxd4 19. Bxd4 Rxg2 20. Rde1 Qf5 21. Rh5 $1 {is already almost close to winning for White. With this in mind, it can be said that the entire line may well be lost and Black can do better by investigating the options at move 9 or 7 (but not the first move. The French is a great opening!).}) 18... fxe5 19. Qh6 { Strong practical chess. White introduces a series of nasty threats into the position.} Re7 $1 {The most solid, defensive move.} ({I rejected} 19... Qxg2 { simply because of} 20. Rdg1 $1 Qxg1+ 21. Rxg1 Rxg1+ 22. Kb2 {as White has at least a perpetual check and that it would be extremely difficult to fend off White's powerful pieces. In a practical game, there is no need to calculate further - this conclusion should already be enough reason for you to hunt for alternatives.}) ({I also considered} 19... Rxg2 {but again, I did not see any sense in opening up another avenue for White to continue the attack. In particular, I did not like Black after} 20. Qf6 $1 Qf4+ 21. Qxf4 exf4 22. Rxh7 {. Black may have some kind of a defence here but it is clear that it would take many moves before Black manages to coordinate his queenside.}) 20. Bh5+ Kd7 21. Rhe1 Qf4+ $1 {Not the engine's first choice, but I felt this was the most practical move.} ({The machine suggested} 21... Qf5 {and claims that Black can ride out the storm but it is obvious that Black would be subjected to a lot of pressure after the simple} 22. Re3 $5 d4 (22... Qf4 23. Qxf4 exf4 24. Ree1) 23. Kb1 $5 {. I really wanted to get rid of the queens even at the expense of some material.}) 22. Qxf4 exf4 23. Bf6 {winning the exchange but Black has decent compensation as we shall soon see.} Kd6 24. Bxe7+ Nxe7 25. c4 Bd7 26. cxd5 Nxd5 $2 {Played without hesitation, bearing in mind that I was already experiencing mild time trouble at this point.} ({Thomas Luther pointed out that the dynamic} 26... e5 $1 {would have been very strong. White's d5-pawn shields the Black king perfectly and Black's plans are simple enough. Go for ...Nf5-d4, or ...Rg8 and ...Bf5 and White almost invariably loses the d5 pawn. Some sample lines:} 27. Kb2 (27. Rh1 Rg8 28. Bf3 Bf5 $44) (27. Bf3 Bf5 ) 27... Rg8 28. Bf3 Bg4 29. Rh1 Bxf3 30. gxf3 Nf5 31. Rxh7 Rg2 32. Rd2 Nd4 33. Rxb7 Nxf3 {and Black has sufficient counterplay. In many of these lines, White can very easily find himself in a lot of trouble with a couple of imprecise moves which makes this variation even more appealing.}) 27. Bf3 {Now, White has an edge as all his pieces now make a lot of sense and he has a simple plan of ganging up on the h-pawn before continuing the squeeze.} Rc8+ {I wanted to defend my h-pawn from the c7 square.} (27... Bc6 28. Rh1 {would transpose to the note on White's 29th after} Rc8 29. Kb2) 28. Kb2 Bc6 $5 {This sets a little "trick".} 29. Rxe6+ $6 {Walking into the trap although White should have still gained an edge after it!} (29. Rh1 $1 {with the idea} Rc7 30. Rh4 { was considerably stronger.}) 29... Kxe6 30. Bg4+ Ke5 31. Bxc8 Nb6 $1 32. Bh3 Nc4+ {The point. White loses the a3 pawn almost by force and this was the end of my calculation. However, I had missed a very important detail.} 33. Kc3 (33. Kb3 Ba4+ $1 {was what I was praying for and Black even turns the tables!}) (33. Ka2 Bd5 {leaves the White king in an inactive position and my opponent made the correct decision to choose activity over material.}) 33... Nxa3 34. Re1+ $6 {White decides logically, to go for my h-pawn without waiting.} ({Here, I froze when I saw White could have played} 34. Bd7 $1 {which would have posed a lot more questions for Black to solve. For instance,} Nb5+ (34... Bxg2 35. Kb3 {, trapping the knight was the whole point although here Black could have gone} h5 36. Kxa3 h4 37. Rd3 {and the amazing move} b6 $3 {, continuing the fight according to the computer! I did not analyse this too deeply as I am certain that White would be winning with normal moves.}) 35. Kb4 Nd4 36. Bxc6 Nxc6+ 37. Kc5 Ke4 38. Rd7 Ne5 39. f3+ Nxf3 40. Re7+ $1 (40. gxf3+ Kxf3 41. Kd4 h5 42. Rh7 {was also winning but there was no need to analyse the resulting pawn vs rook endings with Re7+.})) 34... Kd6 {The next few moves do not require any comments.} 35. Re6+ Kc5 36. Re5+ Kd6 37. Rh5 b5 38. Rxh7 a5 39. Rh6+ Kc5 { Black has clear compensation with his connected passies on the queenside and was already very close to a draw at this juncture.} 40. Rh5+ Kd6 $2 { Unfortunately, I made an inaccuracy on the infamous 40th move. I was obsessed with keeping my pawns that I had not even considered the other king move.} ({ The paradoxical} 40... Kb6 $3 {, moving away from the defence of the f4 pawn was very strong. The point is that the Black king would help to support the passed pawns and it would be very difficult for White to make any kind of progress. For example,} 41. Rf5 b4+ 42. Kb2 Nc4+ 43. Kb3 Nd6 $1 44. Rxf4 Bd5+ 45. Kb2 Kc5 {(Black's pieces are coordinating beautifully)} 46. Bd7 {(stopping ...a4)} Nc4+ 47. Ka1 Nb6 48. Be8 Bxg2 {and Black should hold this comfortably. Again, the quality of the remaining pieces on the board matter a lot more than material itself.}) 41. Kd3 $1 {A nice move, almost putting Black in zugzwang.} Bd5 ({Black has to be careful not to push his queenside pawns too fast as he would risk losing them one after the other.} 41... a4 $2 42. Kc3 Nc4 43. Kb4 { and White soon collects the pawns.}) 42. Rh6+ Kc5 43. Rh5 Kd6 {A repetition of moves that did not in any way means that White was ready to offer a draw. This is simply a demonstration of power during the game and is a common technique among strong players. One shouldn't overdo it though, for instance, repeating moves in your opponent's time trouble and giving him extra time and moves to reach the time control. At this point, White found the only move to test Black in this position.} 44. Bg4 $1 {An extremely high class move. White only has 2 remaining pawns and he did not shy away from giving away one of them. White's threat was obviously Bf3 and I did not spend too much time over my next decision.} Bxg2 ({As it turns out, White had a very difficult win after} 44... b4 $5 45. Bf3 Bxf3 46. gxf3 a4 47. Rf5 $3 {Another paradoxical move.} ({ After the forcing sequence,} 47. Ra5 b3 48. Kc3 Nb1+ 49. Kb2 Nd2 50. Rxa4 Ke5 51. Rb4 Nxf3 52. Rxb3 (52. Kxb3 Ng1 $1 53. Kc2 Nh3 54. f3 Ng1 55. Rb3 Kd4 56. Kd2 Nh3) 52... Nd2 {, Black has arrived at a theoretical draw. This was not so easy to determine over the board but Thomas Luther promptly took out his old copy of Encyclopedia of Chess Endings and pointed out that this sort of endgame was already analyzed by Averbakh in 1962!} 53. Rc3 Ne4 54. Rc2 Kf5 $11 (54... f3 55. Kc1 Kf4 56. Kd1 Kf5 57. Ke1 Kf4 58. Rc8 Kf5 59. Rf8+ Kg4 60. Rf7 Ng5 61. Rf6 Ne4 62. Rf8) 55. Kb3 Kg4 (55... Kg5)) 47... b3 48. Kc3 Nb1+ 49. Kb2 Nd2 50. Rxf4 {and now without the f-pawn, Black has no more chances left.}) 45. Kd4 $1 {Threatening the powerful threat of Rh6+. Black's reply was almost forced.} Nc2+ 46. Kc3 Na3 47. Kb3 {To my horror, I realised I was about to lose my precious queenside pawns. During the game, I remembered feeling very disappointed and that my position was already lost here. Not so! Chess is a game full of wondrous possibilities and it is important to fight till the bitter death, even when all hope appears to have gone.} Nc4 (47... Nb1 48. Rxb5 Bd5+ 49. Kb2 Nd2 50. Kc3 Ne4+ 51. Kd4 Bc6 52. Rb6 $1 Ng5 $3 53. Ra6 a4 { also retained some drawing chances.}) 48. Rxb5 Ne5 $2 ({I had actually seen the little trick} 48... a4+ $3 {but I had brushed this possibility off after calculating} 49. Kc3 a3 50. Rb4 {, thinking that I would probably lose the a-pawn very quickly. However, after} Bd5 51. Be2 a2 $1 52. Ra4 Ne5 53. Kb2 f3 $1 {, Black would have saved his position by going after the f2-pawn. This would have been the cleanest way to force an immediate draw with no complications or deviations along the way.}) 49. Bf5 $1 {A good square for the bishop, covering both the g4 and d3 squares.} a4+ 50. Kc3 Bc6 (50... Bd5 51. Ra5 Bb3 {was a possible defence but it was clear that White retains very good winning chances.}) 51. Ra5 Be8 $2 {Collapsing in time trouble but Black's position was already very difficult.} 52. Be4 Ng4 53. f3 Ne5 54. Ra6+ Kd7 55. Kd4 1-0

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Official Statement

On 7th May 2016, I had published an article that details my issues with the current executive committee of the SCF. 

Subsequent to the publication, I was approached by various members of the Exco, including the current SCF President, Leonard Lau. We have had many discussions since and many of the issues highlighted have been addressed. As such, I am happy to retract my statement and I will continue to play for the country in future team events.

Wei Ming

4th June 2016

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Lessons from Kecskemet / Book Review: The Chess Manual of Avoidable Mistakes by Romain Edouard - PART 1

I am finally home after a 3 week stint in Kecskemet and I thought that since I'm obviously still suffering from severe jet lag, I might as well write something about my games and my general thoughts about the 2 tournaments. Concurrently, I am gonna take a slightly unusual approach to this article and also give a brief review of the "The Chess Manual of Avoidable Mistakes" ("TCMAM") by the French Grandmaster Romain Edouard, Thinkers Publishing, 2014.  I had bought this, and the accompanying test volume on the last day of the event. How I wish I had read this little gem of a book before the tournaments and not on the plane home! But more on this in a while....

Kecskemet may not be the most widely known city on a global scale but the Chess in Kecskemet (organised by Tamas Erdelyi) and First Saturday (organised by Nagy Laszlo) tournaments are pretty well known in the chess community. I believe there are no other tournaments in the world that are quite like these series, tournaments that give ambitious chess players the chance to make IM or GM norms in back to back events on a monthly basis. As such, it is quite possible for an ambitious player to stay in Hungary for a 6 month period and compete in 10-12 IM or GM norm tournaments. I myself have successfully played in both First Saturday and Kecskemet, making my final IM norm in the former (2007) and my first GM norm (2011) in the latter.

However, at the risk of appearing defensive, this does not in anyway mean that these events are "norm factories" or the quality of play is any lower than open tournaments. While the rostered GMs may not be the most motivated ones in the world, they are experienced and solid and defeating them to make the requisite score is anything but easy. Those that were successful, especially in making Grandmaster norms, typically displayed a combination of exceptional form and some luck. In my case, it was more to do with luck than anything else but that's another story.....

Those interested in the round by round results and the general outcome of my tournaments can access them here and here but rather than going through the events round by round, I would be showing the 2 most instructive games that I felt I've learnt a lot from in this post. Funnily enough, these examples would have been perfect in TCMAM and I felt I could totally relate to the advice that the French GM had wrote.

The first chapter of the book was titled "Objectivity throughout a chess game". Some of the problems that Edouard wrote are that "A problem that we have to face is that we very often miss simple defensive moves when we are under pressure....." and that "sometimes we do not believe that we'll be able to calculate everything until the end and do not even give it a try." He went on to give several examples of his own games and the thought processes behind the moves he played, cleverly linking the errors he made with the concepts and rules that he was explaining.

The second chapter was titled "General reasons for blundering" and the writer discusses 5 situations where blunders occur the most. The writer wrote that "one of the biggest cause for blundering is psychological reaction after a shock" and that he had observed that many chess players were not able to play correctly or objectively anymore after something abnormal happened during a game. After giving a few examples of such scenarios, he then wrote that "after missing something important or after blundering, it is very human to get fatalist or angry with yourself. This is childish and not the right time for it. If you make a mistake, it is not a reason to make one or several more...." and that as a rule, "the general philosophy to follow during a game is that you should never look behind and that you should always force the opponent to be as precise as possible." Perhaps, the following critical game is a perfect illustration of what the author was trying to say:

A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)
[Event "Kecskemet GM Tournament"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.01.16"] [Round "6"] [White "Attila Groszpeter"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2444"] [BlackElo "2430"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "59"] {Before this round, I had a score of 3.5/5 and I needed a score of 3 out of the next 4 games in order to secure my final GM norm. With 3 blacks in the next 4 games, securing such a score is easier said than done and I was forced to play the most aggressive and risky lines.} 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 { The French Winawer is one of the lines where Black can play fully for the win if White chooses the most principled variations. Fortunately, I was aware that my opponent, a solid and very experienced Grandmaster always chooses the absolute mainlines and I was therefore assured of a full blooded fight.} 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 7. h4 $5 {This move, one that my opponent had never played and had prepared specially for this game, came as a nasty surprise. I had checked several lines of the Winawer but had carelessly omitted the h4 lines in my preparation. Fortunately, I had played and won a very important game in the 2012 Istanbul Olympiad which I already analysed elsewhere on this blog.} Nbc6 8. h5 (8. Nf3 f6 $1 {was played in Steel - Goh, Istanbul 2012 as mentioned in the above note.}) 8... cxd4 9. cxd4 Qa5+ 10. Bd2 Qa4 11. h6 $5 { This is rare.} (11. Nf3 Nxd4 12. Bd3 Nef5 13. Kf1 {is the mainline.}) 11... Qxd4 {I was obviously on my own from this juncture as I was not able to remember any of my old preparation.} 12. Nf3 Qe4+ 13. Be2 Nxe5 14. Bc3 f6 15. Nxe5 fxe5 16. Qd2 $2 {Over-ambitious.} ({I had calculated that} 16. hxg7 $1 Rg8 17. Qd3 Qxd3 18. Bxd3 d4 19. Bb2 Rxg7 20. Rxh7 Rxh7 21. Bxh7 $11 {was White's best option and this was quickly verified with the engine.}) 16... g6 {This stablises Black's position on the kingside and asks White where the compensation for the missing 2 pawns is. Now, my opponent went for a direct approach which was easily parried} 17. Qg5 $2 (17. f3 Qf5 18. Bd3 Qf6 19. Qe2 $1 {This forces} d4 {after which} 20. Bd2 Bd7 21. O-O {gives White decent compensation in view of the bishop pair, strong light square control and Black's weak and doubled e-pawns.}) 17... Nc6 {I had seen that 18.Qf6 now is useless due to 18...Rg8! and Black covers all the critical entry points. Black has a clearly preferable position and I was just 2 moves away from consolidating my position with ..0-0 and Bd7 for instance. I started allowing myself to "drift", congratulated myself for a job well done and even started thinking about my opening choice for the next round. What I should have done is to remain focused, identify any potential threats and finish the game accurately before thinking about anything else. After a long think, my opponent went} 18. Rh3 $5 {....with the threat of 19.Re3, or so it seems. With a time advantage of 40 minutes to 3 minutes, I had more than sufficient time to check this position carefully but instead only took 4 minutes to play the horrendous} d4 $4 {, completely overlooking White's key idea in this previous move.} ({Of course, the easy} 18... O-O $19 19. Re3 (19. Bb4 Rf5) 19... Qf4 $1 (19... Qxc2 $1 20. Bxe5 Rf5 $1 {was also pretty convincing.}) 20. Qxf4 exf4 21. Rd3 b6 $19 {would have won quite easily.}) 19. Rf3 $1 {I had completely forgot this simple but terribly strong manoeuvre and it is safe to say that I had never felt as shocked and devastated after a single move. White's idea of Qg5-f6-f7 was simple and yet so effective that I had immediately rendered my position as "hopeless". I spent the next 30 minutes (in complete and utter misery) checking some lines superficially and wallowing in self pity, and kicking myself for not playing 18...0-0. I was literally in total despair and at some stage was even on the verge of tears. Of course, had I read Edouard's book before the round, I would have read one of his rules which states that " should never look behind and that you should always force your opponent to be as precise as possible. The situation had changed badly? Adapt yourself. Play according to the new position and to the new parameters... .."} b6 $4 {The second and decisive blunder.} ({I had seen that after} 19... Rf8 20. Rxf8+ Kxf8 21. Qf6+ Ke8 22. Qh8+ (22. Bd2 $1 b6 23. f3 Qf5 24. Qh8+ Qf8 25. Qxh7 Qf7 26. Qh8+ Qf8 27. Qxf8+ Kxf8 28. Bd3 Kf7 29. Kf2 {was the computer's first choice and this was rather difficult illogical to see from a human point of view.}) 22... Kd7 23. Qxh7+ (23. Bd2 b6 24. Qxh7+ Kd6 {[%cal Gc8a6]} 25. Kf1 Qxc2 {is extremely unclear.}) 23... Kd6 24. Qg8 ({An incredibly beautiful line could be seen after} 24. O-O-O Qxe2 25. Qg8 Kc7 $3 26. h7 Rb8 $3 27. h8=Q Bd7 $1 $14 {with a skewer on the last rank against 2 queens. This could quite likely be the only game in history that Black gets to skewer 2 queens on the last rank with the developing move, ...Bd7!}) 24... dxc3 25. h7 Nd4 26. Kf1 Qxe2+ 27. Kg1 {, there is no way for Black to stop White from promoting a second queen after which he would completely annihilate the Black king. Of course, had I not felt so sorry for myself, I might have seen the improbable} Nf3+ $3 {which continues the fight.} 28. Kh1 (28. gxf3 Qxf3 29. Qd8+ Bd7 30. Qxa8 Qg4+ {and White could not prevent the perpetual.}) 28... Ne1 $1 {and here, White has a choice:} 29. Qf8+ (29. Rxe1 Qxe1+ 30. Kh2 Qxf2 31. h8=Q Qf4+ 32. Kh3 Qf5+ 33. g4 Qf1+ 34. Kh4 Qf2+ 35. Kg5 Qf4+ 36. Kxg6 Qxg4+ 37. Kf7 (37. Kh6) 37... Qf5+ 38. Qf6 b6 $1 {and Black should hold this.}) 29... Kc7 (29... Kc6 30. Kg1 Qe4 31. Rxe1 Qxe1+ 32. Kh2 b6 33. Qe8+ Kb7 34. h8=Q $18) 30. Kg1 Nf3+ $3 31. gxf3 Bd7 $1 32. Qxa8 Qxf3 33. Qb8+ $3 Kxb8 34. h8=Q+ Kc7 35. Qxe5+ Kc8 $14 {and White retains some winning chances.}) 20. Qf6 Ba6 21. Qxh8+ Kd7 22. Qg7+ Kd6 23. Rd3 (23. Re3 {was more brutal but there are many ways to skin a cat.}) 23... Bxd3 24. cxd3 Qxg2 25. Bd2 e4 26. Bf4+ e5 27. Qf6+ Kd5 28. Rc1 Rc8 29. Rxc6 $1 {A nice finish with aplomb.} Qh1+ 30. Bf1 1-0

After checking the game thoroughly, I was certain that playing 19...Rf8 would have given me excellent chances of holding the game in view of my opponent's significant time trouble and this would have been possible had I been more mentally resilient and had not given up when I faced an internal crisis of some sort after 19.Rf3. Losing is always a painful experience but losing after outplaying a strong Grandmaster with the black pieces in an absolutely critical tournament was especially painful. Nevetheless, this was a meaningful lesson for me to learn and if anything, it had further strengthened my resolve more than ever to continue pursuing the GM title. Afterall, if you want an easy life, do not play chess competitively.

 Part 2 will be published in a few days and would feature an extremely interesting game against the Russian Grandmaster Alexander Fominyh.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Conclusion to the (long overdue!) report on the Olympiad

Tromso Rounds 1-3
Tromso Rounds 4-5
Tromso Rounds 6-8

While playing a couple of training games with Russian FIDE Master Andrey Terekhov, the dude reminded me that my Olympiad report was inconclusive and there are still a few rounds that were not covered. I immediately cooked up some random excuse (no time to write, too tired etc) but the truth is that the remaining few rounds, particularly rounds 9 and 10 were extremely painful as I quite literally threw away any last ditch attempt for a GM norm. But well, here goes anyway....

In round 9, we faced a young Indonesian team led by their, by now, undisputed number 1 GM Megaranto Susanto. Games
[Event "41st World Chess Olympiad"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.11"] [Round "9"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Farid Firman Syah"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C55"] [WhiteElo "2433"] [BlackElo "2400"] [Annotator "Goh,Wei Ming, Kevin"] [PlyCount "92"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 {The Italian has worked well for me so far and I didn't see a need to find another opening against 1...e5. However, that came to haunt me in the Qatar Masters when I lost 3 painful games with it.....} Nf6 4. d3 (4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6 8. Bd3 {is another fashionable line that I have played from time to time.}) 4... Be7 (4... Bc5 { is the other big main move here.}) 5. O-O O-O 6. Bb3 d6 7. c3 Be6 ({My blog had also covered an important game that continued} 7... h6 8. Nbd2 Nh7 9. Nc4 Bg4 {½-½ (64) Goh Wei Ming, Kevin (2426)-Harikrishna Pentala (2693) Asian Nations Cup 2012.}) 8. Nbd2 Qd7 ({A common question that I've asked myself many times is what happens if Black exchanges the important light square bishop. A rather vague and general middlegame theory is that the side with less space should be trying to exchange pieces in order to gain more room for manoeuvring. However, what is equally important is determining the right piece to exchange. Here, exchange on b3 helps White to gain a tempo (by attacking b7) , increase his control over the important d5 square, and gives White the easy plan of re-routing the knight to the e3 square and playing for d3-d4.} 8... Bxb3 9. Qxb3 Qc8 10. Nc4 Nd8 $5 {[%cal Gd8e6,Gc7c6]} 11. Ne3 Ne6 12. Nf5 Re8 13. Ng5 {with a nagging initiative.}) (8... d5 {is also perfectly viable but White retains play on the light squares after} 9. Re1 dxe4 10. dxe4 Qd7 11. Qe2 ) 9. Re1 Kh8 $6 {Black appears to be struggling for ideas although it is hard to suggest anything constructive.} ({Perhaps, the computer suggestion of} 9... a5 {, beginning some kind of queenside operation makes sense.}) 10. d4 exd4 11. Nxd4 $6 {A rather counter-intuitive move.} ({Of course,} 11. cxd4 {is natural and a better move. White should keep pieces in view of his space advantage.}) 11... Nxd4 12. cxd4 d5 $2 {Rather cooperative play by Black.} (12... c6 {, retaining some control over d5 and e5 is more sensible.}) 13. e5 Ng8 14. Bc2 { Now, if White ever manages to play f4 and g4, Black would be in serious trouble.} Bg4 15. f3 Bh5 16. Nf1 Rae8 ({I had also intended} 16... c5 17. dxc5 Bxc5+ 18. Be3 d4 19. Bf2 {with a pleasant edge.}) 17. g4 Bg6 18. Ng3 Bb4 (18... c5 19. Be3 c4 $5) 19. Bxg6 hxg6 20. Rf1 {Here, I was already feeling rather confident of my position. The plan to play f4-f5 is a simple and natural plan and I hadn't seen how Black could defend against this plan. Unfortunately, I had already spent a lot of time to reach this position and that would cost me tremendously.} f6 21. f4 fxe5 22. dxe5 Bc5+ 23. Kg2 g5 $2 {Black basically gets a lost position after this.} 24. f5 (24. Ne4 $1 Be7 25. f5 {is probably even more effective.}) 24... Rxe5 25. Bxg5 Nh6 26. Bf4 Ree8 27. Qf3 Bd6 28. Rae1 $2 {This move is played completely against the spirit of the position. White should be trying to attack and attack fast!!} (28. Bxd6 $1 Qxd6 29. g5 Nf7 30. Qh5+ Kg8 31. f6 {would have inspired resignation. There is no way to defend against White's surging attack.} Qe5) 28... Bxf4 29. Qxf4 Kg8 $2 (29... Rxe1 30. Rxe1 d4 {was Black's best chance.}) 30. Rxe8 Rxe8 31. h3 $4 { Sometimes, we all make decisions that we fail to comprehend during the aftermath. This is one of those.} ({I had seen the very strong and logical} 31. g5 Nf7 32. g6 Nh6 33. f6 {which again wins on the spot. How I failed to play this out remains an unsolved mystery to date.}) 31... d4 32. g5 Nf7 33. g6 Nh6 34. Kh2 $2 {The final blunder that throws away a direct win.} (34. f6 $1 Qc6+ 35. Kh2 Qc2+ 36. Rf2 Qxg6 37. Qxc7 $3 {continues to give Black problems to solve. That last move in the sequence was particularly hard to find for me personally.}) 34... Qd6 35. Qxd6 cxd6 36. Rd1 (36. f6 gxf6 37. Rxf6 d5 38. Rd6 Re5) 36... Re5 37. Rxd4 Nxf5 38. Nxf5 Rxf5 39. Rxd6 Kf8 40. Kg3 Rg5+ 41. Kf4 Rg2 42. Rd7 Rxb2 43. h4 Rxa2 44. Rf7+ Kg8 45. Rxb7 Ra4+ 46. Kf5 Ra5+ 1/2-1/2
The match eventually ended 2-2 after wins are traded on board 3 and 4.

In Round 10, we were paired against the formidable Peruvian team which boasts 2600 GMs on all 4 boards. Before the round, Qian Yun, Jingyao and I all boast chances to make norm results but we all required to get a result in this critical match. For me personally, a win would clinch the norm, while a draw would give me another chance to make the norm in the final round. Of course, a win with Black against a strong 2630 was anything but easy but I did get rather decent chances to complicate the position: A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "41st World Chess Olympiad"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.12"] [Round "10"] [White "Emilio Cordova"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A15"] [WhiteElo "2629"] [BlackElo "2433"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "rn1qr1k1/1p3p1p/p1pb1np1/P2p4/NPPP2b1/1Q2PB2/1B1N2PP/2R2RK1 b - - 0 17"] [PlyCount "48"] {I had played reasonable from an innocuous opening and had managed to obtain a dynamic position which suited my needs just fine. However, I again failed to appreciate the spirit of the position. Here, I played} 17... Nbd7 $2 {which is a normal developmental move but again, I should have played something more direct and try to pose immediate problems for White to solve.} ({With this in mind, I should have at least tried to calculate} 17... Qc7 18. h3 Bh2+ 19. Kh1 Nh5 $1 {Here, White has the resource} 20. Rf2 $1 (20. Bxg4 Ng3+ 21. Kxh2 Nxf1+ $19) 20... Bg3 21. Bxg4 (21. Re2 $2 Bxf3 22. Nxf3 dxc4 23. Rxc4 Nd7 {is fine for Black.}) (21. Rff1 Bh2 22. Rf2 Bg3 {repeats}) 21... Bxf2 22. Bxh5 Bxe3 $1 23. Re1 Nd7 $1 24. Rxe3 Qf4 {with a complex position.}) 18. h3 Bf5 19. cxd5 cxd5 20. Nc5 Nxc5 21. dxc5 Be5 22. Bxe5 Rxe5 23. c6 bxc6 (23... Qe7 24. cxb7 Qxb7) 24. Rxc6 Qe7 25. Qc3 {The position is roughly equal here, with the weaknesses on e3 and a6 cancelling out each other. However, White's position is slightly the more pleasant in view of his control over the c-file which at this point is more important and also the slightly weakened Black kingside. Black had to tread with extreme caution to maintain equilibrum and I was sadly not up to the task.} Re6 $2 (25... Ne8 $1 {, threatening to capture on e3 was best. Here,} 26. Qc5 (26. Kf2 Nd6 {is dangerous for White.}) 26... Bd3 27. Qxe7 Rxe7 28. Rfc1 Bb5 29. Rb6 Rxe3 30. Bxd5 Rd8 {and Black has solved most of his problems.}) 26. Rxe6 Qxe6 27. Nb3 $1 {From here, it is excruciating pain all the way to the finish.....} Re8 28. Nc5 Qd6 (28... Qxe3+ 29. Qxe3 Rxe3 30. Rd1 Bc8 31. Bxd5) 29. Qd4 Ne4 $2 30. Bxe4 Bxe4 31. Qf6 Qc7 32. Nxa6 Qa7 33. Nc5 Rb8 34. h4 h5 35. Qe5 Bf5 36. Rxf5 gxf5 37. Nd7 Rd8 38. Nf6+ Kf8 39. Nxh5 d4 40. Qh8+ Ke7 41. Qf6+ 1-0
We were smashed 4 to nothing against the South American powerhouse, arguably a well deserved result in view of how superior our opponents were in all aspects of the game.

The final round was all about trying to secure a good ranking and we duly secured a 3-1 victory against Cyprus, with Qianyun and Jing Yao again delivering the goods. I personally finished with 6/10 and a decent 2500 TPR. It could have been a lot better of course, and I was hovering around the 2600 TPR mark until the final few rounds. It was of course disappointing to have come so close to my final GM norm but given how inactive I was the entire year and the number of games where I fell into severe time trouble, the result was entirely satisfactory and in a way predictable. This also meant that I would have to continue waiting for my final GM norm though.

I had played in many team events and I could safely say that this particular team had the best chemistry and team spirit throughout. Leslie was an incredible captain and really took care of every single non-playing aspect and I am personally very grateful for his leadership. All in all, despite the slightly anti climatic finish to the event, the team played well above expectations and I think we put up a good show for the local community.

Funnily enough, the one prize I won from the Olympiad was an all expenses paid trip to Qatar to take part in the Qatar Masters Open. I didn't score too well from that event but I did play some interesting games and I will put up my analysis due time....

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Jarred Neubronner sweeps the 6th NTU IIICC title by Junior Tay

The 6th NTU Inter-Institutional Invitational championships had 29 participants from local tertiary institutions participating from 23-24th May 2015 and it was held at the Sports and Recreation Centre.

NTU's FM Jarred Neubronner won the event with one round to spare after chalking up 6 wins in a row.

Republic Polytechnic's Hu Yang (left), playing a Sveshnikov against NTU's FM Jarred Neubronner (right)
However, his team-mate, 2nd seeded Ng Shi Hao, (who had earned a FIDE rating of 2037 following his 6th placing at the Grand Asian Chess Challenge 2015) did not find the going that smooth sailing.
NTU's Ng Shi Hao (left)

Republic Polytechnic's Hu Yang dealt him a loss with an impressive controlled squeeze. He did however, beat fellow Johor state player, Melvin Chin of Singapore Polytechnic to help keep NTU way ahead of the other challengers in the team stakes. 

Melvin however, kept his chances alive with a fierce tactical sequence in the King's Indian 4 pawn attack over Hu Yang, and eventually clinched the bronze medal.

Singapore Polytechic's Melvin Chin (left)

After Round 6, Jarred and Shi Hao (5/6) were in clear 1st and 2nd positions. Hence, quick draws with their nearest challengers Melvin and Hein Zin (Singapore Polytechnic) in the final round ensured them the individual gold and silver medals as well as the team champion's title for NTU. 

Final top results - 7 rounds swiss
1st FM Jarred Neubronner 6.5
2nd Ng Shi Hao 5.5
3rd-5th Melvin Chin, Dennis Wongso and Peng Junyuan 5
6th-8th Hu Zhen, Hein Zin and Sharon Teo 4.5

1st NTU
2nd Republic Polytechnic
3rd Singapore Polytechnic

Games Section

[Event "NTU Open"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.05.26"] [Round "?"] [White "Dennis Wongso"] [Black "FM Jarred Neubronner"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B30"] [Annotator "Junior Tay"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c4 {Taking Jarred out of his theory. This move had been played successfully by GMs Yermolinsky, Arkell and Oll. If permitted, White will play d2-d4 next, with a Maroczy Bind type structure.} e5 {No bind. Now, instead, Jarred opts for a Botvinnik system structure, where the c5,d6,e5 structure accords Black the flexibility to play both ....b5 and ...f5 breaks while clamping on the d4-square. White's Nf3 is not flexibly placed, as a result. However, Black cedes the d5-square.} 4. d3 Nc6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Nd5 h6 ( 6... Bg7 7. h4 h6 8. h5 g5 9. Be2 Nge7 10. Ne3 a6 11. Nd2 Nd4 12. Bg4 Be6 13. Rb1 b5 14. b3 O-O 15. Bb2 Qd7 16. Ndf1 Nc2+ 17. Qxc2 Bxg4 18. Nxg4 Qxg4 19. Ne3 Qd7 20. Bc3 b4 21. Bb2 {Ivanov,I (2495)-Masculo,J (2225)/USA 1/2-1/2 (35)}) ({ Unthinkable is} 6... Nge7 $4 7. Nf6#) 7. a3 a5 {Not giving White a free hand on the queenside. White will need to give up the a-file if he intends to push b2-b4 through.} 8. Rb1 Bg7 9. Bd2 (9. b4 axb4 10. axb4 b6 $11) 9... a4 $6 { This pawn is kind of loose.} 10. Be2 $6 ({White can win the a4-pawn with} 10. Nc3 {though Black gets some compensation after} Nd4 11. Nxd4 cxd4 12. Nxa4 Bd7 13. b3 b5 14. cxb5 Bxb5) 10... Nge7 11. b4 axb3 12. Rxb3 Nxd5 13. cxd5 Ne7 14. h3 O-O 15. Qc1 Kh7 16. Nh2 ({After} 16. g4 {, Black can simply play} f5 {, not fearing} 17. gxf5 gxf5 18. Rg1 Ng6 {when White doesn't have enough firepower to attack the black king.}) 16... f5 17. f4 $2 {Too loosening. Jarred is quick to exploit the weakness of e4.} (17. Nf1 {with the idea of Ne3 is better.}) 17... fxe4 18. dxe4 exf4 19. Bxf4 Ra4 $1 $19 {The stinger. This is a good example of how a rook can hit from the rank (other than the usual 2nd/7th rank press).} 20. Bf3 $2 {Missing Jarred's idea.} ({Since there's no good way to save the e-pawn, White might as well use it to put pressure on g6 with} 20. O-O Rxe4 21. Bd3) 20... Nxd5 $1 {The e-pawn is pinned down as the Bf4 hangs after pawn is deflected.} 21. Bxd6 (21. exd5 Raxf4 $19) 21... Qxd6 22. exd5 Qg3+ 23. Kf1 Re4 {Black's extra pawn and huge lead in development give him winning chances. Jarred noted that he did not find the most efficient way of finishing this off though.} 24. Ng4 Bxg4 (24... b6 $1 25. Nf2 Ba6+ 26. Kg1 Bd4 27. Qd2 Re2 $1) 25. hxg4 Rxg4 26. Qd2 h5 27. Rd3 (27. Rh3 Qd6 28. Kg1 Bd4+ 29. Kh1 Rg3 $19) 27... c4 28. Re3 Rd4 (28... Bd4 $5 {is also very strong.}) 29. Qe1 Qg5 30. Kg1 Rd3 $5 {The computer does not like this move but I feel that it shows the depth of calculation Jarred had engaged in.} 31. Rxd3 cxd3 32. Qe4 {The d3-pawn seems to be lost since White threatens the dardstardly Rxh5, banking on the pin of the g6-pawn. Jarred thus unleashed the deflecting} Bd4+ $3 {, nullifying the h-file pressure totally and rendering the h1-rook a useless piece.} 33. Qxd4 Rxf3 {White cannot resist further.} 34. Kh2 Rf4 (34... Qg3+ 35. Kg1 Rf4 {is IM Terry Toh's preferred sequence, leading to a kill after} 36. Qc5 (36. Qc3 Qf2+ 37. Kh2 Rh4#) 36... Qe1+ 37. Kh2 Rh4#) 35. Qc3 Rh4+ (35... Rh4+ 36. Kg1 Qe3+ 37. Kf1 Rxh1#) 0-1

[Event "NTU Open Rd 6"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.05.24"] [Round "?"] [White "Hu Zhen"] [Black "Melvin Chin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E77"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f4 O-O 6. Nf3 c5 7. d5 e6 8. dxe6 { This relatively rare trade has been played by Ponomariov and especially Moskalenko. Of course, most Kaspy followers would remember the Christiansen-Kasparov game.} ({Incidentally, we had a brief session before that round and he wanted to test his KID. And coincidentally, I tried the 4 Pawns attack too.} 8. Be2 exd5 9. e5 dxe5 (9... Ng4 $6 10. cxd5 dxe5 11. h3 e4 12. hxg4 exf3 13. gxf3 Re8 14. f5 $1 {Vaisser,A (2385)-Kasparov,G (2630)/ Moscow 1981}) 10. fxe5 Ng4 ({The simplest way out is} 10... Ne4 $1 11. cxd5 Nxc3 12. bxc3 Bg4 13. O-O Bxf3 14. Rxf3 Nd7 15. e6 Ne5 16. exf7+ Kh8 17. Rf1 Rxf7 18. Bf4 c4 19. Bxe5 Rxf1+ 20. Qxf1 Bxe5 21. Bxc4 Qd6 22. g3 {1/2-1/2 Kaidanov,G (2405)-Vasiukov,E (2480)/Moscow 1986}) 11. Bg5 Qa5 12. cxd5 Nxe5 13. O-O Nxf3+ 14. Bxf3 Bf5 15. Be7 Re8 16. d6 Nc6 17. Nd5 Rac8 $6 18. Bg4 $1 $16 { Jr Tay-Melvin Chin, Training 2015.}) 8... Bxe6 (8... fxe6 9. Bd3 Nc6 10. O-O Nd4 11. Ng5 e5 12. f5 h6 13. Nh3 gxf5 14. exf5 b5 15. Be3 bxc4 16. Bxc4+ Kh8 17. Bxd4 cxd4 18. Nd5 Ba6 19. Nxf6 Bxc4 20. Nh5 Bxf1 21. Qg4 Qd7 22. Rxf1 d3 23. Qf3 d2 24. g4 Rac8 25. Qd3 Qa4 26. Nf2 Qd4 27. Qxd4 exd4 28. Nf4 Rfe8 29. Ne6 Rc1 30. Nd1 Bf6 31. Kf2 Bg5 32. Ke2 Rc5 33. Kd3 Re5 34. Nxg5 hxg5 35. Rf2 Re4 36. h3 Re3+ 37. Kxd4 R8e4+ 38. Kd5 Re2 39. Rf3 Re1 40. f6 Rf4 {0-1 Christiansen,L (2575)-Kasparov,G (2675)/Moscow 1982}) 9. Be2 $6 (9. Bd3 {is the principled continuation. defending the e4-pawn and with f4-f5 ideas in the future.} Nc6 10. O-O Na5 $1 11. Qe2 Re8 $11 {Turov,M (2634)-Berg,E (2608)/ Maastricht 2011}) 9... Nc6 10. O-O Bg4 (10... Re8 11. h3 Nd4 12. Bd3 Bd7 13. Re1 Bc6 14. Rb1 a6 15. Be3 Nxe4 $1 16. Bxd4 Bxd4+ 17. Nxd4 Nxc3 18. bxc3 cxd4 19. cxd4 Qf6 20. Rxe8+ Rxe8 21. d5 Bd7 22. Rxb7 $4 Qd4+ 23. Kh1 $4 Bf5 24. Rb3 Re3 {0-1 Genov,P (2425)-Minasian,A (2540)/Berlin 1996}) 11. Kh1 $146 {An unnecessary loss of a tempo.} (11. Be3 Re8 12. Bd3 (12. h3 Nxe4 $1) 12... Nb4 13. h3 Bf5 $1 $15) (11. h3 Bxf3 12. Bxf3 Nd4 $11 {Saralegui Cassan,M-Curi,G/ Uruguay 1987/1/2-1/2 (27)}) (11. Bd3 Nd4 $11) 11... Re8 12. Qd3 $4 (12. Bd3 { admitting the folly of her 9th move is still better.}) ({or} 12. h3 Bd7 13. Bd3 $15) 12... Nb4 $3 {A fascinating continuation. This looks like a wasted tempi, as the knight might end up going back to c6 after a2-a3. However Black goes on a deep forcing sequence which exploits White's lack of development and weakened pawn centre.} ({Personally, I would have played} 12... Qe7 {to win the e-pawn simply.}) 13. Qb1 d5 $3 {Very pleased with Melvin. Before the game, he was quite tentative about playing this Chinese opponent who had bashed the NTU No 2 player yesterday. I told him to play his forte, tactical and combinative play, noting that he gives me more trouble in training simul or blitz sessions with tactical play than positional fights. He mentioned that he remembered what I said during the game and thus played for tactical complications.} 14. cxd5 (14. Nxd5 $4 Nxe4 {and Black's powerful developmental lead will tell soon enough.} 15. Ne3 Bxf3 16. Bxf3 Qd4 17. g3 Rad8 {with ... Nd3 to follow.}) 14... Nfxd5 $6 {Although this isn't totally accurate, it suits him to a T. The point is, he feels like a fish in the water in tactical complications..} ({I saw} 14... Nxe4 $3 15. Nxe4 Qxd5 {with a won position. One particularly beautiful variation is} 16. Nc3 Bxc3 17. bxc3 Rxe2 18. cxb4 Bxf3 $1 19. gxf3 Qh5 {with mate to follow.}) 15. Nxd5 ({The point is} 15. exd5 $4 Bf5 {wins the queen.}) 15... Nxd5 16. Rd1 $6 {White thought she got Melvin with this pin. However, Melvin saw a little further.} ({Both sides missed} 16. Bb5 $1 Bxf3 17. gxf3 Nb4 18. Bxe8 Qxe8 $14 {[%csl Gd3][%cal Ge8b5] and Black has some compensation for the exchange.}) 16... Qa5 $1 $11 17. Rxd5 $2 { Falling into a deep trick!} (17. h3 $1 Bxf3 18. Bxf3 Ne7 {is probably best with an unclear position.}) 17... Bxf3 {Threatening back rank mate.} 18. Bd2 { White was relying on this to rescue her extra piece. Black has a nice retort} ( {Most definitely not} 18. gxf3 Qe1+ 19. Kg2 Qxe2+) ({or} 18. Bxf3 Qe1#) 18... Bxe4 $1 {The whole point of the combination, Black wins a pawn after the massive exchanges..} 19. Qxe4 $2 ({Better is} 19. Bxa5 $5 Bxb1 20. Bb5 Be4 21. Rd2 Re7 {though Black remains a solid pawn up.}) 19... Rxe4 20. Bxa5 Rxe2 21. Bc3 Bxc3 22. bxc3 Rae8 23. h3 b6 24. f5 Kg7 25. fxg6 hxg6 26. Rd7 R8e7 27. Rad1 $2 Re1+ 28. Rxe1 Rxd7 29. Re2 Kf6 30. Kg1 b5 31. Rb2 Rb7 32. Kf2 Ke5 33. Ke3 Kd5 34. a4 b4 35. cxb4 Rxb4 36. Rf2 f5 {and Black later won the ending.} 0-1

Friday, 6 March 2015

Singapore Masters Blitz Invitational 2015 - Best games of the tourney

Olimpiu Urcan had placed 25 games from the above-mentioned event on the blog. I went through the lot and decided to showcase the best games from that lot here. First up, the 'Caveman Attack Award' goes to Andrean Susilodinata for a barnstormer of an attack.

[Event "S'pore Masters Blitz 2015"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.01"] [Round "8"] [White "Susilodinata, Andrean"] [Black "Neubronner, Jarred"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B42"] [Annotator "Junior Tay"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2015.03.02"] [SourceDate "2015.03.02"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Bc5 6. Nb3 Be7 7. c4 d6 8. O-O Nf6 9. Be3 O-O 10. Nc3 b6 11. f4 Nbd7 {All these are pretty standard in the Sicilian Kan though Black usually delays castling until necessary.} 12. g4 $5 { According to my database, this bayonet stab was first played by Polish GM Jacek Tomscak in 2009.} (12. Qf3 {is the main line.}) 12... Bb7 $2 {A natural reaction to complete development. The way Andrean brutally conducted the attack showed that this move which completes development is the key to Black's problems!} ({The age old adage - meeting a flank attack with action in the centre applies here. Black cannot allow White to fully concentrate on the kingside attack unimpeded.} 12... Nc5 $1 13. Nxc5 (13. Bc2 Nxb3 14. axb3 Bb7 15. g5 Nd7 16. Qh5 g6 17. Qh6 Re8 18. Rf3 Bf8 19. Qh4 Bg7 20. Rd1 Qc7 21. Rh3 Nf8 {and Black is holding firm, Miranda Rodriguez,T (2167)-Borges Feria,Y (2406)/Havana 2011.}) (13. g5 Nfd7 14. Bc2 {was Lhotka,J (2082)-Suchomel,A (2044)/Prague 2012. Now,} e5 $1 {looks like an appropriate counter as} 15. Nd5 $6 exf4 16. Bxf4 Ne5 {gives Black good play.}) 13... dxc5 14. h3 (14. g5 $6 { is met by} Ng4) 14... Bb7 15. e5 Nd7 16. Qc2 g6 17. Be4 Qc7 {and the action has been transferred to the centre, Tomczak,J (2465)-Miton,K (2595)/Chotowa 2009}) (12... e5 {, jabbing at the centre, is another move to consider.}) 13. g5 Ne8 14. Qh5 $1 {White goes for the jugular.} g6 15. Qh6 Ng7 16. f5 $1 ({ Another demolition job follows} 16. Rf3 $1 Re8 17. Rh3 Nh5 18. Rxh5 gxh5 19. Qxh5 {when resistance is futile. For example,} Nf8 20. f5 $1 {followed by Rf1 and f5-f6 wins hands down.}) 16... Nh5 (16... exf5 17. exf5 Nxf5 {and after} 18. Rxf5 {, the rook cannot be taken.}) 17. Be2 $1 ({Black gets a good chance to hold out, especially in blitz after} 17. f6 Nhxf6 18. gxf6 Bxf6) 17... Re8 { Seeking to trap the queen with ...Bf8 but Andrean had everything worked out.} 18. fxg6 hxg6 19. Rxf7 $3 {This hammer blow ends all discussion. The band can start playing 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and start 'calling momma!'. The rest do not require annotation as White just picks off copious amount of material and more. ..} Kxf7 20. Bxh5 Rg8 21. Qh7+ Rg7 22. Bxg6+ Kf8 23. Qh8+ Rg8 24. Qh6+ Rg7 25. Qh8+ Rg8 26. Rf1+ Bf6 27. Qh6+ Rg7 28. gxf6 Nxf6 29. Bg5 Kg8 30. Bxf6 Qf8 31. Bxg7 Qxg7 32. Qxg7+ Kxg7 33. Rf7+ Kxg6 34. Rxb7 Rc8 35. Rxb6 Rxc4 36. Rxd6 Kf6 1-0
Olimpiu and I agreed that the following was the best game of the event. Wei Ming wins the 'Carlsen Chokehold' award for this asphyxiation demonstration.
[Event "S'pore Masters Blitz 2015"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.01"] [Round "10"] [White "Goh, Wei Ming"] [Black "Suelo, Robert Jr"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B40"] [Annotator "Junior Tay"] [PlyCount "123"] [EventDate "2015.03.02"] [SourceDate "2015.03.02"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Bg5 $5 {The scumbag opening - Aussie Attack.} Qb6 ({In bullet or blitz play, a common move would be} 4... a6 $4 5. Bxd8 { followed by an opponent disconnect or a litany of profanity...}) ({Personally, I find} 4... Nf6 {to be the hardest to meet.}) 5. Qxd4 Qxd4 6. Nxd4 a6 7. Nd2 $1 {Already, White is eyeing the juicy b6-square for the knight.} Nc6 8. Nxc6 dxc6 9. a4 {Clamping down on Black's ...b5.} ({I've always preferred} 9. Nc4 Bc5 10. O-O-O {in online blitz.}) 9... Nf6 10. f3 Bc5 11. c3 h6 $6 {Wei Ming is more than happy to see this move as he seeks to remove Black's only active piece- the dark-squared bishop.} 12. Bh4 g5 13. Bf2 Bxf2+ 14. Kxf2 Ke7 15. Nc4 {White starts to pull his weight on the queenside dark squares.} Bd7 16. Nb6 Rad8 17. b4 Bc8 18. Ke3 Nd7 19. Nc4 f6 20. Be2 Ne5 21. Nb6 Nd7 22. Nc4 Ne5 23. Na5 $1 {No repetition!} Rd7 24. Rhd1 {It would seem strange to trade a pair of rooks but once Black doubles rooks on the d-file, he can play for ...f5-f4 with a ...Rd2 invasion.} ({Opening another front with} 24. h4 {looks good also. }) 24... Rhd8 25. Rxd7+ Rxd7 {I like the reorganising that Wei Ming embarks on. He first gives himself more options with his knight and kingside pawns.} 26. Nb3 Rd8 27. g3 Nd7 28. b5 $5 {Finally, a commital move.} axb5 29. axb5 cxb5 30. Bxb5 e5 {Black seems to have almost unravelled from the squeeze but the position still requires accuracy.} 31. c4 b6 $6 {Finally, a concession. Perhaps Suelo was concerned about Ra7 followed by Na5 hitting the b7-pawn.} ({ The Black king belongs on c7 but that's very hard to see in blitz.} 31... Kd6 32. c5+ Kc7 {and Black is ok after ...Nb8-c6 or ...Nf8-e6.}) 32. Ra7 {After the patient manouvering, Wei Ming finally has a clear weakness to latch onto, the 7th rank.} Kd6 33. Nc1 $1 {Re-routing the knight to d5 where it hits the b6- and f6-pawns.} Rh8 $2 ({Black must not remain passive and he has to try for activity with} 33... Nc5 {and now} 34. Rh7 Be6 35. Rxh6 Ra8 {, Black gets sufficient counterplay. It's easy to see this of course, with an engine in the background but over the board, it's only natural to cover the weakness (the h6-pawn).}) 34. Nd3 h5 {Suelo is systematically trying to eradicate his h-pawn weakness.} 35. Nb4 h4 (35... Nc5 36. Nd5 f5 37. Ra8 $1 $18 {and Black is in zugzwang.}) 36. g4 (36. Nd5 {is also very strong.}) 36... Rf8 {Now he covers his f-pawn. Black's plan is just to hold firm and ...hope White does not have a tactical breakthrough, as the kingside is closed up and everything seems guarded staunchly.} 37. Nd5 Rd8 38. Ra8 $1 {Well, it only took Wei Ming 1 move to set up a tactical solution. It dawned on Black that White will just set up Bxd7 and trade the whole house leading to a winning king and pawns ending for White.} Nc5 {There is no choice but to give up the b-pawn.} (38... Rf8 39. Bxd7 Kxd7 40. Nxb6+ Kc7 41. Rxc8+ Rxc8 42. Nxc8 Kxc8 43. c5 Kc7 44. Kd3 Kd7 45. Kc4 Kc6 46. h3 {and White will invade into the Black camp.}) 39. Nxb6 Kc7 40. Nd5+ ({Most definitely not a minor piece ending with} 40. Rxc8+ $2 Rxc8 41. Nxc8 Kxc8 {as White's king cannot get in once the Black king sits on the d6-square.} ) 40... Kb7 41. Ra1 Rd6 ({Also futile is} 41... Be6 42. Rb1 Bxd5 43. exd5 Kc7 44. Bc6) 42. Rb1 {Wicked! Now Black now has to worry about the plight of his king as well.} Ka7 43. Ra1+ Kb7 44. Be8 Bd7 45. Rb1+ Ka7 46. Bxd7 Nxd7 47. Rb5 $1 {Supporting the c4-c5 push.} Ka6 $2 {This allows White to win more quickly but Suelo must have been worn out by the big squeeze.} ({In any case,} 47... Ra6 48. Nb4 Ra3+ 49. Kd2 $1 Rxf3 50. c5 $1 {wins.}) 48. Nb4+ Ka7 49. c5 Rd1 50. c6 Nb6 51. Nd5 Nc8 52. Rb7+ Ka6 53. Nxf6 Rc1 54. Rc7 Nd6 55. Nd5 Nc4+ 56. Ke2 Nd6 $4 57. Rd7 Nb5 58. Re7 Rxc6 {Walking into a fork. However, the game has already been lost for quite a while.} 59. Nb4+ Kb6 60. Nxc6 Kxc6 61. Rxe5 Kb6 62. Rxg5 1-0
I was very impressed by the way Benjamin handled the opening against the acknowledged expert of the ...Nc6 Centre Counter. Before the event, I wanted to prepare against those strong opponents I would be facing but gave up after 5 minutes, realising that it would be too much work. But I did click on some of Nelson's Centre counter games where he (as well as his elder brother and sister) outplayed many masters with it by constantly combining central pressure with slick piece play. Here, Benjamin Foo gets the 'Take the bull by the horns' award by entering into Nelson's main line and coming out with a powerful idea to blast the queenside open. With this, we've come to the end of my annotated series for this event. Thank you for viewing!
[Event "S'pore Masters Blitz 2015"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.01"] [Round "8"] [White "Foo, Benjamin"] [Black "Mariano, Nelson III"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B01"] [Annotator "Junior Tay"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2015.03.02"] [SourceDate "2015.03.02"] 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Nc6 $5 {The ...Nc6 Centre counter is a specialty of American IM Alexander Reprintsev. Other experts in this line are French GM Etienne Bacrot and ...the Mariano family! Both brother GM Nelson Mariano II and sister WIM Cristine have utilized this line frequently too with success.} 6. Bd2 $1 (6. d5 Nb4 7. Bb5+ c6 8. dxc6 Nxc6 9. Ne5 Bd7 10. Nxd7 Nxd7 11. O-O e6 12. Re1 Be7 13. Bf4 Nf6 14. a3 O-O 15. Bxc6 bxc6 16. Qf3 Rac8 17. Rad1 Qf5 18. h4 Nd5 19. Nxd5 cxd5 {and Mariano's elder sibling has gained the edge, Chong,C (2127)-Mariano,N (2466)/Kuala Lumpur 2005} ) ({The theoretical continuation is supposed to be} 6. Bb5 {but that doesn't faze Nelson.} Nd5 7. a4 Nxc3 8. bxc3 a6 9. Bxc6+ bxc6 10. O-O Bg4 11. Qd3 Bf5 12. Qd2 e6 13. Ne5 Bd6 $1 14. Ba3 Bxe5 15. dxe5 c5 16. Rfd1 O-O {and the future World Junior Champion agreed to a draw against Nelson, Lu,S (2538) -Mariano,N (2292)/Kuala Lumpur 2013.}) 6... a6 ({I've studied many years ago that} 6... Bg4 7. Nb5 Qb6 8. c4 Bxf3 9. Qxf3 Nxd4 10. Nxd4 Qxd4 11. Qxb7 Qe4+ 12. Qxe4 Nxe4 13. Be3 {gives White a big plus in the ending.}) 7. Bc4 Qh5 { Black's plan is to put as much pressure as possible on the d4-pawn with ...Bg4 and ...0-0-0.} 8. O-O Bg4 9. Be2 O-O-O 10. h3 $1 {With natural moves, White has seized the edge and Black has no time to threaten the d4-weakie.} Bxf3 11. Bxf3 Qf5 12. Bxc6 {The point of White's trade. He gets to damage the Black queenside and the tempo to defend the d4-pawn.} bxc6 {This position has been encountered by Nelson in tournament praxis!} 13. Qe2 $1 {Gaining more time to set up his own offensive plan.} (13. Ne2 e6 14. c4 Qd3 $1 15. Rc1 Ne4 16. Be3 Qxd1 17. Rfxd1 Bd6 18. a3 Rhg8 {White has a structural edge though Nelson eventuallly ecked out a win, Dela Cruz,N (2371) -Mariano,N (2251)/Manila 2013}) 13... Kb7 14. Be3 e6 $146 {This is Nelson's improvement over a prior game.} ({ Black has attempted to straighten his pawns after} 14... Nd5 $2 15. Nxd5 cxd5 { but this gave White time to pummel down the queenside with} 16. c4 $1 e6 17. c5 Ra8 18. Rfc1 c6 19. Rc3 Be7 20. Rb3+ Kc7 21. Qd2 Rhc8 22. Bf4+ Kd7 23. Rb7+ $18 {Fomichenko,E (2492)-Scheblykin,S (2348)/Anapa 2008}) 15. b4 $3 {Benjamin gives him no rest and demonstrates the sustained initiative play that has earned him scalps over IMs in recent months.} Bd6 16. Rfb1 {Bringing the whole chain gang into the attack.} e5 {Black meets the flank action with central activity but it's too little too late.} ({After} 16... Nd5 17. Nxd5 exd5 18. a4 {is also daunting for Black.}) 17. b5 $3 {The king's cover is blown away just like that.} cxb5 18. Nxb5 $1 axb5 19. Rxb5+ ({Even more incisive is} 19. Qxb5+ Kc8 20. c4 {with the idea of c5-c6.}) 19... Kc8 20. dxe5 {The Rb5 also helps to set up a horizontal pin.} Bxe5 21. f4 Rhe8 $2 ({Black must bail out into an ending a pawn down with} 21... Rd5 $5 22. Rxd5 Nxd5 23. fxe5 Nxe3 24. Qxe3) 22. fxe5 $18 {The rest is a clinical mop-up by Ben and he never relinquished his sustained initiative thanks to the floundering Black king.} Rxe5 23. Rxe5 Qxe5 24. Qa6+ Kd7 25. Rd1+ Ke7 26. Qa3+ Ke8 27. Qa4+ Rd7 28. Re1 Kf8 29. Qa8+ Ke7 30. Bf2 Qxe1+ 31. Bxe1 Nd5 32. Qc6 Rd6 33. Qc5 Kd7 34. Bg3 Re6 35. Qxd5+ Kc8 36. a4 c6 37. Qb3 Kd7 38. a5 c5 39. a6 Re8 40. a7 Kc6 41. Bb8 Re1+ 42. Kf2 Re6 43. a8=Q+ 1-0

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Singapore Masters Blitz Invitational 2015 by Junior Tay

Personally, I would prefer to play in events where I can get a decent number of rounds with stronger players to ‘teach me a lesson’. I also believe my contemporaries also feel the same way, that is, they would prefer tourneys where they could be put to the test by strong masters. Hence, these days, I would rather take part in’s Titled Tuesday event, where the US$1000 prize fund pulls in ELO 2700+ type super-GMs like Hikaru Nakamura, Baduur Jobava, Maxime Vachier Lagrave just to name a few. In my two attempts at the event, I have played GMs Jon Ludwig Hammer (got a lucky draw) and Laurent Fressinet (got hammered) and both were incidentally King Magnus’ World Championship seconds.

A recent innovative concept by Olimpiu Urcan caught my attention immediately. Together with Mark Tan Koh Boon, they co-sponsored one of the strongest local events possible. By the way, Mark is no slouch at chess, having beaten Wei Ming and Julio Sadorra (now GM) in tournament play before.

Not since the last TCA Mega Open (a cool $1100 first prize won by your blogmaster Wei Ming) had we seen such an impressive line-up. It’s not just about the money (1st - $600, 2nd - $300, 3rd -$200, 4th-6th 1 year Chesscafe membership, 3 lucky draw prizes- Kevin Goh’s autographed Everyman Chess Development 6 Bg5 book).

 The conditions established were equally promising too, for example,
*Early personal invitations to the masters to take part with no deadline to reply – as long as they do so before the start of the event
*Big spacious, air-conditioned condo function room
*Low entry fees - $10, which is easily 3 to 10 times lower than the local events
*Generous time-frame to decide whether to participate
*Bottled mineral water supplied during games
*Flexibility – the participants, by majority vote, can decide on changes to the schedule for example

*Publicity – the event would be covered via pictures, video, and game scores swiftly afterwards.

What more can you ask for? Soon, 16 ELO 2100-2400+ players signed up and with 3 IMs, 6 FMs and 1 WIM in tow, a jolly good chess tussle was in the works with no easy rounds for anyone. In fact, Jarred Neubronner got it absolutely right when he stated that ‘the winner will not score more than 8 points’.

Wei Ming and Benjamin Foo surged into the lead after 3 rounds with maximum points. Some of my chess pals were quite surprised at young Benjamin’s strength but not us. At a blitz team match held at my place, he scored 4.5/6 vs the likes of IM Hsu Li Yang, IM Terry Toh and FM Ong Chong Ghee - a very impressive result. Round 4 was the matchup between Wei Ming and Ben which ended in a draw after careful play by the latter. Ben took over the lead in Round 5 by beating Reggie Olay, a Filipino NM (with 3 IM norms!) while Wei Ming was held to a draw by FM Tin Jingyao. Round 6 turned the leaderboard into a tizzy when Benjamin was ousted by FM Andrean Susilodinata and Wei Ming got outlasted by his nemesis Jarred. So, at the halfway mark, we had Ben with 4.5 pts, followed by Wei Ming, Jarred, Andrean and Timothy Chan with 4. The latter (another triple IM norm holder) had not played competitively since November 2012. So how did he keep up with the heavyweights at the event? According to Wei Ming, Tim had been playing online regularly for the past month just to keep in shape for this event and it has certainly paid off!

After the break, Ben and Wei Ming stepped up the gas by beating Jarred and Tim respectively. At this point, Reggie Olay (with 3/6 only) started to hit an awesome vein of form but more of that later. Your scribe proved to be the spoiler of the event after drawing Wei Ming and beating Ben in the next two rounds (he missed a simple windmill!) in the next two rounds. Thus, by round 9, we had Wei Ming and Ben at 6.5 points followed by Reggie, Tim and your scribe at 6 points. In the penultimate round, I dropped off the title fight after getting comprehensively beaten by Reggie while Wei Ming and Ben clung on to joint lead after beating Suelo and Gong Qianyun respectively. Tim kept pace by accounting for FM Nelson Mariano III.

So at this point, it was Wei Ming and Ben with 7.5 followed by Reggie and Tim with 7 points. All of a sudden, we have the revenge of the Pinoys as ALL of them magnificently won their games in the all important final round. Wei Ming was outplayed by national coach IM Enrique Paciencia and Ivan Gil Biag took down Ben.
Round 11 - Pinoy Power! 
By beating IM Li Ruofan, Reggie completed an incredible feat from Round 7 to 11, reeling off 5 consecutive wins to claim the 1st Singapore Blitz Masters title with 8/11! The day before the event, he had put on his facebook – “ No Tiger Beer day for me…A tournament to play in the ‘Anchor’age, so ‘Tiger’ moves first! (Nice puns eh?) And tiger-ish moves he played indeed as he strode to an impressive TPR 2464 performance and the $600 first prize. A brilliant self-birthday gift for him, as he celebrated his 39th birthday!

 Reggie ready to fight like a tiger! 

We also had Singapore’s strongest kibitzer in the audience, GM Zhang Zhong who was ever helpful with post-game comments and pointers on the games. What more can we ask for?

One final note is the adoption of the 3 minutes + 2 seconds time control used in the tourney. In the local blitz events, the 5 minutes sudden death time control is still used. Hence it is inevitable that in the dying seconds of the game, you will see clock banging, pieces flying and inevitably disputes as players try to beat the flag instead of the opponent. As a consequence, the arbiter might have to step in to settle disputes. With incremental time, most of these issues are eliminated and as evidenced by the tourney proceedings. Players resign when they are well and truly lost without playing till they get mated. A normal chess game lasts 30 to 60 moves and with 3 minutes+ 2 seconds time control, a game will usually last from 4 minutes to 6 minutes (per side), which is probably shorter than a 5+0 time control with the occasional board dispute.

So kudos to the organizers for a very well thought-out and smoothly run event!

Prize winners: 1st Reggie Olay 8/11 ($600), 2nd -3rd Benjamin Foo ($300), IM Goh Wei Ming ($200) 7.5 pts, 4th and 5th FMs Andrean Susilodinata and Timothy Chan (1 year Chesscafe membership) 7 pts, 6th to 7th FMs Tin Jingyao and FM Nelson Mariano III 6.5 pts (1 year Chesscafe membership)

Lucky draw winners (Chess Developments 6.Bg5 book (Everyman 2014)): FM Tin Jingyao, IM Enrique Paciencia and FM Nelson Mariano III.

More pictures from the event:

Singapore's chess Olympians - FM Tin Jingyao vs IM Li Ruofan 

FM Jarred Neubronner neu-tralising IM Goh Wei Ming's advantage after a long tussle.

FM Timothy Chan shows that he is not that rusty after 2 years of absolute tournament inactivity as he upended Jingyao here. 

Edward Lee fought Russian FM Andrey Terekhnov to a draw.

 China vs Philippines? 
WIM Gong Qianyun vs IM Enrique Paciencia and IM Li Ruofan vs FM Ivan Gil 

The strongest chess player in Singapore, GM Zhang Zhong, observing the proceedings and giving powerful kibitzing advice after the games. 

Final Scoretable (
Check out a video from this event (courtesy of and more on the youtube playlist!
Board 1 - Benjamin Foo vs IM Goh Wei Ming, Board 2 - Reggie Olay vs FM Timothy Chan

Games section (courtesy of Olimpiu Urcan)
Reggie offered Tim a poisoned pawn on c4 and the latter really grabbed it and a strange material situation resulted. The funny thing was that Reggie's subsequent plan of ransacking the Black queenside had a major flaw...his queen would get trapped there. Unfortunately for Tim, he missed the chance to shut the queen and Reggie's subsequent powerful queen play ended all discussion.

[Event "S'pore Masters Blitz 2015"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.01"] [Round "4"] [White "FM Olay, Edgar Reggie"] [Black "FM Chan, Timothy"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E33"] [Annotator "Junior Tay"] [PlyCount "115"] [EventDate "2015.03.02"] [SourceDate "2015.03.03"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 Nc6 {The Zurich variation prizes piece play above structural considerations.} 5. Nf3 d6 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. Qxc3 O-O ({ Personally, I prefer to flick in} 7... a5 {first to prevent White from expanding on the queenside so easily}) 8. b4 Qe7 {A relatively rare continuation, as Black tends to play either the ...e5 pawn sacrifice or ...Re8 here.} (8... e5 $5 9. dxe5 (9. Bb2 {is preferred by GMs Ding Liren and Volkov.} ) 9... Nxe5 10. Nxe5 dxe5 11. Qxe5 Re8 12. Qb2 a5 13. Bg5 axb4 14. axb4 Rxa1+ 15. Qxa1 Qd3 $1 16. f3 (16. Bxf6 gxf6 17. e3 Qb3 {and White is suffering.}) 16... Qxc4 17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Qb2 {and Black has regained the pawn with the initiative, Peng,Z (2443)-Plasman,H (2217)/Hoogeveen 2001}) 9. Bb2 Re8 10. g3 $5 $146 e5 11. d5 ({After} 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Bg2 Nd4 {, White walked into a devious trap with} 13. e3 $4 Bh3 $1 14. Bxh3 Ne4 $1 15. Qd3 Nxf3+ 16. Ke2 Nfg5 {The point of the combination, Black cannot hold on to the bishop with ...Rad8 and ...Rd2+ looming.} 17. Rad1 {Fick,R (2110)-Eggleston,D (2399)/Bad Wiessee 2013 and now} (17. Bg2 Rad8 18. Qc2 Rd2+ 19. Qxd2 Nxd2 20. Kxd2 {and Black is winning.}) 17... Rad8 18. Qb1 Qf6 $1 19. f4 Qc6 $1 {Hitting the c4-pawn and the h3-bishop simultaneously} 20. fxg5 Nxg5 {with a winning position.}) 11... Nb8 12. Bg2 c6 {Chipping away at the White centre.} (12... b5 $5 {is an attempt to decimate White's centre but White resisted temptation with} 13. Nd2 Bb7 14. O-O Nbd7 15. a4 bxc4 16. e4 c6 17. dxc6 Bxc6 18. Qxc4 Rac8 19. Rfc1 Bb7 20. Qb3 {to keep a slight structural edge, Kishnev,S (2488)-Koch,T (2416)/ Belgium 2003}) 13. dxc6 $1 Nxc6 ({Reggie probably planned to meet} 13... bxc6 { with} 14. c5 $1) 14. O-O Be6 15. Rfd1 Rac8 16. Rac1 Red8 17. h3 h6 18. e3 Bf5 ( 18... e4 $5 {with the idea of meeting} 19. Nd2 Ne5 {can be countered by the dangerous exchange sacrifice} 20. Qd4 $1 Nd3 21. Nxe4 Nxc1 22. Rxc1 {when it's easier to play White especially in blitz.}) 19. Nh4 $1 {The tempi earned allows White to make inroads on the queenside.} Bh7 20. b5 ({White can undermine the centre with} 20. c5 $5 dxc5 21. b5 {and he will pick off the e5-pawn with a durable bishop pair edge.}) 20... Nb8 21. a4 b6 22. Ba3 { Attacks the backward pawn on d6} Ne8 ({Stockfish suggests the 'inhuman'} 22... g5 23. Nf3 Ne4 24. Qa1 Qf6 {with approximate equality but humans tend to bother more about structural consideration.}) 23. Qd2 {Starting to massage the position and apply pressure on d6.} (23. e4 {gives White a solid edge too.}) 23... Qe6 {Targeting the c4-pawn.} 24. Kh2 $5 {Reggie dares Tim to pluck the c4-weakie...} Rxc4 $2 {I'm not sure if Tim missed the bishop poke from d5 but the resulting unbalanced piece setup gave Reggie winning chances.} 25. Bd5 $1 $18 Rxc1 26. Bxe6 Rxd1 27. Bxf7+ $1 Kxf7 28. Qxd1 Ke7 29. Qd5 Nd7 30. Qb7 Rb8 31. Qxa7 $4 {White's play following the massive exchanges has bee geared towards pilfering the queenside. However, at this juncture, both sides did not realise that the queen could be trapped!} Kd8 $4 (31... Be4 $3 {shuts the door on the queen!} 32. a5 Ra8 {and White will regret munching on a7.}) 32. a5 $4 ( 32. f3 {is necessary to blot out the ...Be4 idea.}) 32... bxa5 $4 {Now the queen gets out of jail.} (32... Be4) 33. Qxa5+ $18 Rb6 34. Nf3 Be4 35. Nd2 Bd5 {With Black driven into a defensive shell, Reggie exploits Tim's dilemna with a general pawn advance.} 36. e4 Be6 37. f4 exf4 38. gxf4 Nc7 39. Qc3 $1 { Reggie is not adverse to part with his b-pawn to remove one of Black's knights as Black's kingside has been irretrievably weakened.} Nxb5 40. Qg3 Nxa3 41. Qxa3 Nc5 42. f5 $1 {The prelude to a powerful denoument.} Bb3 43. e5 $1 { Crushing! Removing the knight's pawn support and thus wrecking the Black pieces' coordination totally.} Kc7 44. exd6+ Kc6 45. h4 Bd5 46. Qa7 ({A faster way to convert would be} 46. d7 Nxd7 47. Qc3+ Kb5 48. Qxg7 $18) 46... Rb7 {Tim is really making it very tough for Reggie to make inroads.} 47. Qa3 Kxd6 48. Qg3+ $18 Kc6 49. Qc3 Kd6 50. Qg3+ Kc6 51. Qe5 $1 {The winning plan. Reggie prepares f5-f6 to trade off the g7-pawn, thus removing the support for the hapless h6-pawn.} Nd3 52. Qc3+ Nc5 53. f6 $1 gxf6 54. Qxf6+ Be6 55. Qxh6 Rb2 56. Kg1 Kd7 $4 {Tim blunders his rook away, but there is no stopping the h-pawn anyway.} 57. Qg7+ Kd6 58. Qxb2 1-0
Getting positionally outplayed by FM Andrean Susilodinata, I spotted a really dirty cheapo...
[Event "Singapore Blitz Masters "] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.01"] [Round "?"] [White "Junior Tay"] [Black "FM Andrean Susilodinata"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B23"] [Annotator "Tay,Junior"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r4bk1/1bq2p1p/pp4p1/2n1Pp2/P1Bp4/1P4Q1/2P2NPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 21"] [PlyCount "6"] [EventDate "2015.03.03"] 21... Re8 {In this position, White is exchange for a pawn up but the isolated e-pawn is poised to drop as White cannot defend it sufficiently. Once it falls, Black surely is better with his powerful bishop pair and dominance in the centre. I spotted an ultra-dirty cheapo here...} 22. Rae1 {Meekly defending the e-pawn or so it seems.} ({I was also considering} 22. Ng4 $5 {but after} Ne4 $1 23. Qh4 Bg7 24. Nf6+ Nxf6 25. exf6 Re4 $1 {, White is in serious trouble.}) 22... Bg7 $4 {Totally missing the cheapo...} (22... Re7 $1 {first would have avoided all the trouble.}) 23. e6 $3 {All of a sudden, Black is forced to lose a rook as ...exf7+ threatens to win the whole house!} Nxe6 ( 23... Qxg3 24. exf7+ {and Black gets mated after fxe8=Q.}) 24. Rxe6 $1 {The Black queen is left en-prise and ...Qxg3 loses to Rxe8 check(!) and White converted the extra rook advantage later.} 1-0
Finally, some very clever opening play by Reggie allowed him to gain the edge over Andrean.
[Event "S'pore Masters Blitz 2015"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.01"] [Round "3"] [White "Susilodinata, Andrean"] [Black "Olay, Edgar Reggie"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B75"] [Annotator "Tay,Junior"] [PlyCount "38"] [EventDate "2015.03.02"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 a6 8. Qd2 h5 $5 {A typical motif in the Dragondorf. The main point is White is 'robbed' of his natural Bh6, h4-h5 attacking setup and also the standard g2-g4 bayonet spike has been upended.} 9. O-O-O ({Watch how the irrepressible GM Jobava handle this opening} 9. Bc4 Nbd7 10. O-O-O b5 11. Bb3 Bb7 12. Kb1 Rc8 13. h3 Ne5 14. Rhe1 Nc4 15. Bxc4 Rxc4 16. Nb3 Qc7 17. Bd4 O-O {Here, it looks like conditions are ripe for a central break...} 18. e5 $6 dxe5 19. Bxe5 Ne4 $1 { Ouch! Suddenly, the tables are turned and White is forced on the defensive.} 20. Bxc7 (20. Rxe4 Bxe5 21. Nd5 Bxd5 22. Qxd5 Bf6) 20... Nxd2+ 21. Rxd2 Bxc3 22. bxc3 Rxc7 {and Jobava has secured an edge in this ending, Areshchenko,A (2720)-Jobava,B (2695)/Warsaw 2013.}) 9... Nbd7 10. f4 Qc7 {This position requires some care.} ({After} 10... b5 11. Bd3 Bb7 $2 {White has the powerful break} 12. e5 dxe5 $2 (12... b4 13. Na4 dxe5 14. Ne6) 13. Ne6 $3 fxe6 $2 (13... Qa5 14. fxe5 Nxe5 15. Nxg7+ Kf8 16. Nf5 $16) 14. Bxg6+ Kf8 15. fxe5 Qa5 16. exf6 Nxf6 17. Rhf1 {Tchoupine,V-Vuckovic,A (2338)/Ditzingen 2002, with a huge position for White,}) 11. f5 Ne5 12. fxg6 fxg6 13. Bg5 $5 {A typical idea, with the intention to trade on f6 and dive in with Nd5. The natural reaction here would be to move the queen away from the Nd5 hit with ...Qa5 but Reggie simply ignores the threat!} O-O $5 14. Bxf6 exf6 $1 {An odd looking recapture, weakening the d-pawn irretrievably but this move is well motivated for the sake of keeping the initiative.} ({After} 14... Bxf6 15. Nd5 Qc5 16. Be2 Bd7 17. Rhf1 {, Black's Dragondorf has lost its vitality.}) 15. Nb3 Re8 $5 {Very enterprising play. Reggie refused to be tied down to defending the d-pawn and instead gave it up nonchalantly to carry on his development.} 16. Nd5 {Andrean cautiously declined the pawn offer but his position soon deteriorated.} ({After } 16. Qxd6 Qf7 17. Be2 Be6 18. Kb1 Rac8 19. Rhf1 Rc6 20. Qd2 Rec8 {there is strong counterplay for Black.}) 16... Qf7 17. Kb1 b5 18. Nd4 $6 {Instead of taking over central squares, White needs to focus on development.} Bb7 19. Nf4 $2 Bxe4 $19 {Reggie had nabbed an important pawn and converted the win in another 25 moves.} 0-1

25 games from the event are available for download from the website