Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Asian Nations Cup Round 3 - Singapore vs Indonesia

In round 3, we faced the Indonesian team, our perenial rivals in the ASEAN region. This year, the Indonesian Chess Federation decided to send a team which is a good mix of experience and youth, probably with the intention to blood some of their most talented youngsters. This practice is not uncommon in Singapore as well - one can remember past Olympiads where a number of junior players were selected in favour of more experienced players so as to give them greater exposure on the world stage.

On Board 1, Zhang Zhong was White against Megaranto Susanto. Megaranto has a superstar status in Indonesia as he has been number 1 ever since Adianto retired from professional chess and also won the Zonals in 2011. An inactive Zhang Zhong had his work cut out against Megaranto's Alekhine defence and had a slightly worse position and was in severe time trouble. As the cliche goes, form is temporary and Zhang Zhong showed his class by cleverly creating counterplay by sacrificing a piece for 2 pawns and eventually salvaged a draw.

Meanwhile, I was Black against veteran FM Rudin Hamdani. Rudin made a name for himself when he won the silver medal in great style against insurmountable odds at the 2011 SEA Games. While going through his games, I realised the man plays virtually everything with a decent degree of opening knowledge and hence, I limited my opening preparation by looking through some recent games of his and having some idea of what to play against all his systems.

As it turned out, I essayed my favourite French defence and soon got an imbalanced game which was ideal for playing for a win:

Daniel faced an unrated opponent and as we all know, such opponents are normally the most dangerous because 1) they have virtually no games in the database and 2) they are probably decent players who had no chance to play too many FIDE rated games. We had a quick chat about his opening choices and he mentioned that he will consider what to play vs 1...e5 over the board (with a strong preference towards his almost-patented 2.Qf3.

The game indeed went 1.e4 e5 2.Qf3 Nc6 3.Bc4!, threatening to set a record of the shortest ever game in Asian Team Championships history. His opponent unsportingly continued 3...Nf6 and the game undertook a positional nature. After Black equalised by exchanging pieces and pawns at the right moment, Daniel began playing imaginatively, provoking Black to make aggressive moves which are actually self weakening. Slowly but surely, he outplayed the opponent to obtain a highly promising endgame:

Peng Kong showed his experience by outplaying his unrated opponent in an equal-ish ending and converted the win smoothly:

Round 3
Singapore 3 Indonesia 1

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