Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Boxing Day Blitz Match - Raffles JC Alumni vs the Rest of the World! by Junior Tay

A good friend and sparring partner of the gang, IM Lim Yee Weng notified us that he would be making a trip to Singapore over the Christmas week so I rustled up the usual suspects to see if they were available for some plastic-piece-pushing. Amazingly, 5 of them indicated their availability on Boxing Day so we decided on a double round Scheveningen blitz match.

The time control of 4 minutes + 2 seconds increment was picked instead of the traditional 5 minutes flat so that chess, instead of carrom, can be played when time runs low.

Representing Raffles JC Alumni - IM Hsu Li Yang, FM Ong Chong Ghee and FM Jarred Neubronner.
FM Ong Chong Ghee, hacker par excellence.
The Rest of the World Team had Malaysian IM Lim Yee Weng, Russian FM Andrey Terekhov and CM Olimpiu Urcan.

  FM Andrey Terekhov from Russia plays with a fluid, classical style

The match started on the wrong foot for the Raffles guys when they got walloped 3-0 by the ROW.
Rd 1 - Raffles got walloped 3-0!
The Raffles team fought back in the next 5 rounds but just could not overcome the deficit and the Rest of the World Team emerged 10.5-7.5 victors. Yee Weng was the top scorer for the team and overall with a brilliant 5/6 score with CM Urcan accounting for 3.5 points and FM Terekhov scoring the remaining 2 for a comfortable 3 point margin. They each won a signed copy of  Everyman's Chess Development: Sicilian Najdorf 6. Bg5.

The top scorer IM Lim Yee Weng

CM Olimpiu Urcan played the game of the match against a hapless Jarred
The top Rafflesian scorer was Li Yang with 3.5 points. Thus Yee Weng and Li Yang each won a copy of  Everyman's  Ivanchuk Move by Move.
 IM Hsu Li Yang - top scorer for the Raffles team

Both Chong Ghee and Jarred scored 2 points.
FM Jarred Neubronner redeemed himself in the final 2 rounds

Here are some games from the event.

Li Yang started off on a wrong foot, outplaying himself in the ending. Clearly, the one game warmup he had after arriving from work wasn't sufficient.

[Event "Boxing Day Master Match"] [Site "Singapore"] [Date "2014.12.26"] [Round "1.1"] [White "FM Terekhov, Andrey"] [Black "IM Hsu, Li Yang"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D00"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/5k1p/8/2ppp3/7P/1P2R1PK/P7/6r1 b - - 0 42"] [PlyCount "18"] [EventDate "2014.12.26"] [EventType "blitz"] [EventRounds "6"] [EventCountry "SIN"] [SourceDate "2014.12.28"] [WhiteTeam "ROW"] [BlackTeam "Raffles Alumni"] 42... e4 43. g4 Ke6 44. g5 Ke5 45. Kh2 Rg4 46. Rg3 Rxg3 47. Kxg3 Kf5 $2 { Terekhov, despite the obvious tension etched on his face, conducts the endgame accurately.} (47... c4 $1 {creates two runners and White cannot stop both.} 48. bxc4 dxc4 49. Kf2 Kf4 50. Ke2 c3 51. h5 e3 $1 52. g6 c2 53. gxh7 c1=Q 54. h8=Q Qd2+ 55. Kf1 Qf2#) 48. a4 d4 49. a5 e3 $4 {The wrong pawn!} (49... d3 50. Kf2 Kf4 51. a6 e3+ 52. Ke1 Kf3 53. a7 d2+ 54. Kd1 Kf2 55. a8=Q e2+ 56. Kxd2 e1=Q+ { with a draw by perpetual check.}) 50. Kf3 Ke5 51. a6 {And Terekhov with a double fist victory gesture, claims the game and sets in motion a 3-0 whitewash of the Raffles team.} 1-0
In the battle of the IMs, honours were even as they split wins. Let's have a look at a typical 'Hus your daddy' positional win by the doctor.
[Event "Boxing Day Master Match"] [Site "Singapore"] [Date "2014.12.26"] [Round "2.1"] [White "IM Lim, Yee-Weng"] [Black "IM Hsu, Li Yang"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D02"] [PlyCount "68"] [EventDate "2014.12.26"] [EventType "blitz"] [EventRounds "6"] [EventCountry "SIN"] [SourceDate "2014.12.28"] [WhiteTeam "ROW"] [BlackTeam "Raffles Alumni"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. Nbd2 {White prefers to postpone the tussle until the middlegame. Li Yang has no issue with that and we see all bishops fianchettoed.} b6 7. c4 Bb7 8. b3 c5 9. Bb2 dxc4 10. Nxc4 Na6 $146 11. Rc1 Rc8 12. Qd2 $5 cxd4 ({Yee Weng's idea is to vacate the d-file for the king rook after} 12... Ne4 13. Qe3) 13. Qxd4 Qxd4 14. Bxd4 {These 'boring' positions are the type that Li Yang excels in. Olimpiu Urcan describes the doctor's style best - 'Smooth with all calm, clear moves and suddenly, the carpet below your feet breaks into pieces'. This is exactly what happens in the game.} Be4 15. Nfe5 Bxg2 16. Kxg2 Rfd8 17. e3 $6 {It is hard to see that this weakening of the d3-square from this calm position will be the result of White's downfall.} Ne4 $1 $15 {With this, Black claims a slight positional edge.} 18. Na3 $6 (18. f3 Nec5 $15) 18... Nac5 {Establishing control over the d3-square, especially when the Ne5 not that secure.} (18... Nb4 $1 {is even stronger as it will be very tough to guard the a2-pawn and still prevent Black from infiltrating down the central files.}) 19. b4 $6 { This overanxious move will cost White the game as Li Yang's knight foray plan takes fruit.} (19. Rfd1 {is mandatory.}) 19... Bxe5 $1 20. Bxe5 ({White also goes a pawn down after} 20. bxc5 Bxd4 21. exd4 bxc5 22. dxc5 Rxc5 23. Rxc5 Nxc5 $17) 20... Nd3 {Black gains time with this fork and the b-pawn is untenable.} 21. Rxc8 Rxc8 22. Bd4 Nxb4 23. Nb5 a6 24. Na7 (24. Rb1 Nd3 25. Na3 b5 {is also gloomy for White.}) 24... Rc2 25. Bxb6 Rxa2 26. Nc8 Nd5 27. Bd4 e5 $1 {Since the e-pawn is inedible due to ...Nxe3+, Black gains tempi to activate his king too.} 28. Ba7 (28. Bxe5 Nxe3+) 28... f5 29. h4 Kf7 30. Rb1 {There is no use trying to hold on to the f2-pawn since Black will just march the a-pawn home.} Ke6 31. Nb6 {and Black finishes with a flourish.} Rxf2+ 32. Kg1 Nxe3 33. Nc8 Rg2+ 34. Kh1 Nxg3# 0-1
The problem with team matches is that one must take into account the match situation. FM Ong Chong Ghee gambled on in a drawn position to try capitalising on FM Terekhov's time trouble but the latter always had one second too many...
[Event "Boxing Day Master Match"] [Site "Singapore"] [Date "2014.12.26"] [Round "2.1"] [White "FM Terekhov, Andrey"] [Black "FM Ong, Chong Ghee"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D11"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/p1b2pp1/8/2p4p/4p1qP/1PQ1P1P1/PB3P2/6K1 w - - 0 30"] [PlyCount "41"] [EventDate "2014.12.26"] [EventType "blitz"] [EventRounds "6"] [EventCountry "SIN"] [SourceDate "2014.12.28"] [WhiteTeam "ROW"] [BlackTeam "Raffles Alumni"] 30. Qxc5 {Here, Black plays the logical piece sacrifice} Bxg3 31. fxg3 Qd1+ 32. Kg2 Qe2+ 33. Kg1 {and Terekhov offered the draw as Ghee cannot do better than perpetual check. However, in view of the match situation (Raffles was 0-3 already after Round 1), Ghee had to try on and even though Andrey was living on borrowed time, having his clock go precariously down to 2 or 1 second before he gets the extra 2 secods, he successfully navigated the incremental time control to win after} Qd1+ 34. Kg2 Qf3+ 35. Kg1 Qxg3+ 36. Kf1 Qf3+ 37. Ke1 Qh1+ 38. Kd2 Qg2+ 39. Kc3 Qg4 40. Qg5 Qc8+ 41. Kd2 Qd7+ 42. Kc1 Qc6+ 43. Kb1 f6 44. Qxh5 Qd7 45. Qe2 a5 46. Qc4+ Kh8 47. Qxe4 Qd1+ 48. Bc1 Qd7 49. h5 Qc7 50. Qg6 1-0
However, Ghee equalised in their personal match with this topsy turvy effort.
[Event "Boxing Day Master Match"] [Site "Singapore"] [Date "2014.12.26"] [Round "2.2"] [White "FM Ong, Chong Ghee"] [Black "FM Terekhov, Andrey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A08"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2014.12.26"] [EventType "blitz"] [EventRounds "6"] [EventCountry "SIN"] [SourceDate "2014.12.28"] [WhiteTeam "Raffles Alumni"] [BlackTeam "ROW"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d3 {Back in his heyday, the King's Indian Attack was a potent weapon in Ghee's hands, beating GM Reefat and IM Terry Toh with it (as well as drawing GM Nelson Mariano).} g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. O-O Nge7 7. c3 d5 8. Qe2 Qc7 9. Re1 h6 {Black does not commit the king to the kingside yet and plays a waiting game...for White to play e4-e5 so that he can counterattack it with ...g5! followed by ...Ng6 or ...g4.} 10. h4 {Nixing the aforementioned plan.} Bd7 $5 {This is quite an unusual placement for the bishop.} (10... O-O 11. e5 b5 12. Bf4 Kh7 13. Nbd2 {was played in Ivanov,A (2503)-Ajrapetian,G (2361)/Belgorod 2009. I like the White side, thanks to Fishcher's exquisite play in such positions (pawn wedge on e5 and then drumming up of an irresistable kingside assault just before Black's queenside play hits home).}) 11. Na3 a6 12. exd5 $5 Nxd5 ({White has a sneaky idea after } 12... exd5 13. Be3 b6 14. d4 $1 c4 15. Nxc4 $3 dxc4 16. d5 {with the idea of Bxb6, uncovering the e-file battery.}) 13. Nc4 O-O 14. a4 b5 15. Ne3 $6 (15. Nce5 {keeps a slight pull.}) 15... bxa4 $6 (15... b4 $11) 16. Nc4 {White has established a firm edge with solid central control. He is now poised to make use of his space advantage to try inducing more kingside weaknesses.} Rab8 17. h5 $5 {Typical Ghee. He does not miss an opportunity to start a bonfire.} g5 ({ Not} 17... gxh5 18. Nh4 {when the chronic kingside weaknesses will soon tell.}) 18. Nxg5 {Boom! This is going to be difficult to defend in blitz.} hxg5 19. Bxg5 f6 {Terekhov is going to defend from the 7th rank.} 20. Bd2 Rf7 21. h6 Bf8 $6 ({Maybe the bishop is better deployed with} 21... Bh8 22. Qh5 Ne5 23. Nxe5 fxe5) 22. Qh5 $1 $16 {Here comes the calvary.} Nce7 23. Be4 Be8 ({The problem with} 23... f5 {is} 24. Bxd5 Nxd5 25. Qg6+ {wins a rook after} Bg7 26. h7+ Kh8 (26... Kf8 27. Bh6 {is even worse for Black.}) 27. Qxf7) 24. Qh3 $6 (24. Qg4+ { justifies the whole attacking plan with} Kh8 25. Qxe6 Rd8 26. Rxa4 {and White not only has the initiative but has plucked enough pawns already.}) 24... f5 ({ Perhaps} 24... Nb6 25. Qxe6 Nxc4 26. Qxc4 Rxb2 {is better.}) 25. Bf3 (25. Bxd5 Nxd5 (25... exd5 $2 26. Bf4 $16) 26. Rxe6 $14) 25... Rh7 $4 {A time trouble error. Now White plucks the 6th rank pawns and is in charge.} (25... Rf6 {is necessary.}) 26. Rxe6 $18 Bf7 27. Rxa6 Qb7 28. R1xa4 Qd7 29. Rd6 $4 {Gifting a whole rook in the spirit of the Christmas season.} Qxa4 30. Qh4 Ng6 $4 {Black returns the favour.} (30... Kh8 {nullifies spells the end of all the tricks.} 31. Bg5 Ng8 {and White's attack is spent.}) 31. Rxg6+ $1 {Suddenly, White is winning again!} Bxg6 32. Bxd5+ Bf7 33. Qg5+ Kh8 34. Bxf7 $2 {Now it's touch and go with both sides in time trouble.} ({It's over after} 34. Qf6+ Kg8 35. Qg6+ Kh8 36. Bxf7) 34... Rxf7 35. Qg6 Rbb7 36. Bf4 $1 Qd1+ 37. Kg2 Rbe7 $4 38. Ne5 $1 $18 {White is on top again with this knight lunge!} Rh7 $1 {The only defence! Terekhov forces Ghee to find forced moves.} 39. Qf6+ ({It is too much to expect an accurate finish with seconds left by playing} 39. Bg5 $1 Qb3 40. Bf6+ Bg7 41. hxg7+ Rhxg7 42. Qh6+ Kg8 43. Ng6 Qd5+ 44. Kh2 Rxg6 45. Qxg6+ Kf8 46. Qh6+ Ke8 47. Bxe7 Kxe7 {and White will win the endgame.}) 39... Kg8 40. Qg6+ Kh8 $4 ({Last chance saloon...} 40... Bg7 $1 41. Nc6 Rf7 42. Qe6 Qxd3 43. Ne7+ Kf8 44. Ng6+ Kg8 45. Ne7+ $11) 41. Qxf5 Qe2 $4 42. Ng6+ ({Missing} 42. Qxf8#) 42... Kg8 43. Qxf8# 1-0
Olimpiu was in fine form, taking points off all his higher rated opponents and giving Jarred a 2-0 pasting. The following game is a great advertisement for the Trompowsky Vaganian Gambit.
[Event "Boxing Day - Raffles vs ROW blitz match"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.12.26"] [Round "?"] [White "CM Olimpiu Urcan"] [Black "FM Jarred Neubronner"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A45"] [Annotator "Junior Tay"] [PlyCount "61"] [EventDate "2014.12.26"] [SourceDate "2014.12.26"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 c5 3. d5 Qb6 4. Nc3 {Inviting Jarred to pluck the Vaganian Gambit.} Qxb2 {The principled continuation. Otherwise, why play ...Qb6?} 5. Bd2 Qb6 6. e4 d6 7. f4 Nfd7 $5 {A rare move, with only 4 games in the Megabase database. Black wishes to restrain e4-e5 without getting this Nf6 kicked around.} 8. Rb1 {Olimpiu plays the recommended idea versus 7...e6 given in IM Richard Pert's Playing the Trompovsky (Quality Chess 2013).} Qd8 9. Nf3 g6 10. e5 $1 {White has to commit this central break before ...Bg7 or his initiative might fizzle out} Bg7 $6 (10... a6 $5 {Preventing Bb5/Nb5 tricks should be considered.}) 11. e6 $1 {In for a penny, in for a pound.} fxe6 12. Ng5 {There is a running joke among my chess pals in the 90s. Whenever one of us weakens the positions by creating outposts for the opponents, we would say...'That's a strong hole' (pun on 'stronghold' - get it?) and the rejoinder would be 'where even the holes are strong'. White exploits the light square weaknesses caused immediately.} Nf6 $1 {This is virtually forced.} ({Vaganian already showed 40 years ago that after} 12... Nf8 {, White has an enduring initiative} 13. Bb5+ Bd7 14. dxe6 Bxb5 15. Nxb5 Qc8 16. O-O a6 17. Bc3 $1 axb5 18. Bxg7 Rg8 { Vaganian,R (2540)-Jansa,V (2535)/Kragujevac 1974 and now} 19. f5 $3 {is decisive after} Rxg7 20. f6 $1 exf6 21. Rxf6 {and the devastating Qf3 cannot be fended off.}) 13. Bb5+ Kf8 14. dxe6 a6 15. Bd3 Nc6 16. O-O {White's compensation is evident. All his pieces are developed, f4-f5 is imminent and Black's pieces are still clogged up.} Qe8 {Trying to cover the g6 weakness after White's impending f4-f5.} 17. f5 Ne5 18. Bf4 $1 {Removing Black's most active piece.} h6 ({After} 18... Nxd3 19. Qxd3 gxf5 {and now} 20. Rbe1 $1 { keeps a firm grip on the position.} ({instead of} 20. Qxf5 Qg6 {when Black has survival chances,})) 19. Bxe5 ({Stronger is} 19. Nf7 $1 {with the idea of prising open the f-file with} Nxf7 20. exf7 {followed by fxg6.}) 19... hxg5 20. Bxf6 Bxf6 21. Nd5 Bd4+ $2 {Jarred is setting up a dardstardly trap...} ({ Black's only resource lie in the surprising} 21... Qa4 22. Nxf6 Qd4+ 23. Rf2 exf6 24. fxg6 Kg7 {though White still has a strong pull.}) 22. Kh1 Kg7 23. Qf3 {Too bad for Jarred, Olimpiu spotted the cheapo! Now the f-file opening ceremony proceeds with fanfare.} ({Jarred's con is} 23. fxg6 $4 Rxh2+ $3 {and the tables are overturned due to} 24. Kxh2 Qh8+ 25. Kg3 Qh4+ 26. Kf3 Bxe6 {and White is forced to part with the knight due to the threat of ...Bg4+.} 27. Ke2 Bxd5 {and Black has an overwhelming position.}) 23... Qf8 24. Rbe1 Ra7 25. c3 Be5 ({Also pointless is} 25... Bf6 26. Qg3 Qe8 27. fxg6 b5 28. Rxf6 exf6 29. e7 ) 26. Rxe5 $3 {A beauty. White crashes through like a ten-tonner truck.} dxe5 27. Qe4 Rh6 28. Qxe5+ Kg8 29. f6 b5 30. fxe7 Qe8 31. Nf6+ {A great example of a sustained non-stop attack following gambit play.} 1-0
Jarred had zero points after 4 games, something unthinkable for the NTU undergraduate who is a regular local tournament winner. He has also recently and won the Toa Payoh West rapid event (with the biggest prize money this year) with a perfect score. However, he barely managed to bamboozle Andrey twice from dubious positions. The following game showed how hard it is to put Jarred away even from the penalty spot.
[Event "Boxing Day Master Match"] [Site "Singapore"] [Date "2014.12.26"] [Round "3.1"] [White "FM Terekhov, Andrey"] [Black "FM Neubronner, Jarred"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A70"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1b1r1k1/1pqn1pbp/p2p1np1/3P4/P1p1PB2/2N2N1P/1PB2PP1/R2Q1RK1 w - - 0 14"] [PlyCount "40"] [EventDate "2014.12.26"] [EventType "blitz"] [EventRounds "6"] [EventCountry "SIN"] [SourceDate "2014.12.28"] [WhiteTeam "ROW"] [BlackTeam "Raffles Alumni"] 14. Re1 {This is still theory but Jarred's careless next move gives White the desired central break.} Nc5 $4 ({Theory recommends} 14... Rb8) ({or} 14... Nh5) 15. e5 $1 {After this blow, Black is almost lost but Jarred proves extremely difficult to put away.} dxe5 16. Bxe5 Qd8 17. Qd4 $1 Nb3 $2 18. Bxb3 cxb3 19. Ne4 $1 {A powerful move, forcing Black to relinquish the pride of the Benoni player, the dark-squared bishop.} Nxe4 20. Bxg7 Nd6 21. Bf6 Qa5 22. Bh8 $1 f6 23. Qxf6 Qc7 {How come Black is still alive? There is no concrete finishing shot here.} 24. Ng5 Bf5 25. Qd4 Rac8 26. Be5 Qd7 27. Qb4 {A regrouping to put the queen in front of the bishop on the long black diagonal.} Nc4 {Denying White's queen access to d4.} 28. Bc3 Bc2 29. d6 $5 {The idea is to deflect the knight away from c4.} (29. Rxe8+ $1 Qxe8 30. Qxb7 {and Black cannot prevent mate.}) 29... a5 $1 {Even though this loses with best play, Terekhov is already in time trouble so...} (29... Nxd6 $4 30. Qd4) (29... Qxd6 $4 30. Qxb7) 30. Qb5 $2 {After this, Black is out of the woods as the queens get traded off. } Qxb5 31. axb5 Nxd6 32. Rxe8+ Rxe8 33. Rxa5 h6 {The worst is over for Black who eventually eked out a win.} 0-1
Li Yang and Olimpiu had recently played 4 training matches with the former getting 3 wins against 1 loss. After losing the first in this mini-match, Olimpiu matched the IM in the following ending.
[Event "Boxing Day Master Match"] [Site "Singapore"] [Date "2014.12.26"] [Round "3.2"] [White "IM Hsu, Li Yang"] [Black "CM Urcan, Olimpiu G"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A81"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/p5k1/1p1p4/4N3/2PpB2n/1P6/P4P2/5K2 b - - 0 37"] [PlyCount "28"] [EventDate "2014.12.26"] [EventType "blitz"] [EventRounds "6"] [EventCountry "SIN"] [SourceDate "2014.12.28"] [WhiteTeam "ROW"] [BlackTeam "Raffles Alumni"] {Another interesting ending. Here, both parties demonstrated accuracy.} 37... dxe5 38. Ke2 Kf6 39. b4 {Preparing c4-c5.} Nf5 40. Bxf5 Kxf5 41. f3 {Stopping the threat of ...e4 cold. Now the game is a draw unless one of them messes up big time.} (41. Kd3 Kf4 42. c5 bxc5 43. bxc5 Kf5 44. Kc4 Ke6 45. f4 exf4 46. Kxd4 f3 {is also another draw but Li Yang's way is clearer.}) 41... Kf4 42. c5 bxc5 43. bxc5 Kf5 44. Kd3 Ke6 45. Ke4 Kd7 46. f4 exf4 47. Kxd4 Kc6 48. Ke4 Kxc5 49. Kxf4 Kb4 50. Ke3 Kc3 51. Ke2 {There is no need for them to play out the whole sequence as mutual respect is shown.} (51. Ke2 a5 52. a4 Kc2 53. Ke3 Kb3 54. Kd4 Kxa4 55. Kc4 Ka3 56. Kc3 Ka2 57. Kc2 a4 58. Kc1 a3 59. Kc2 {and Black will get stalemated.}) 1/2-1/2
Yee Weng was the MVP of the match, forcing his opponents to think hard right at the beginning juncture of the game. For example, he played an early ...Nfd7 against Jarred's 150 Attack vs the Pirc, a ...Nf8-g6 sortie vs Li Yang's QGD Exchange and 3...Na5!? in response to Ghee's Rossolimo. "The idea is to make them think and not to be able to play automatic moves", he revealed after the match. Here's how he outplayed Ghee in the final round.
[Event "Boxing Day Master Match"] [Site "Singapore"] [Date "2014.12.26"] [Round "3.2"] [White "FM Ong, Chong Ghee"] [Black "IM Lim, Yee-Weng"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A00"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2q1rk1/1b2ppb1/3p1n1p/1B4p1/p2PP3/N2Q2B1/5PPP/R4RK1 w - - 0 21"] [PlyCount "30"] [EventDate "2014.12.26"] [EventType "blitz"] [EventRounds "6"] [EventCountry "SIN"] [SourceDate "2014.12.28"] [WhiteTeam "Raffles Alumni"] [BlackTeam "ROW"] 21. Rfe1 {Black has emerged out of the opening with the upper hand due to his central pressure as well as the passed a-pawn. At the time being, it is blockaded so Yee Weng starts to press hard on the queenside.} Qa5 $1 22. Rab1 Ba6 $1 {Simple and logical, removing the obstacles to the a-pawn's advance one by one.} 23. h4 Bxb5 24. Nxb5 Rfb8 25. hxg5 hxg5 26. e5 Nh5 $5 {Setting a devious trap for Ghee.} 27. Bh2 $4 ({It will be too far-fetched to expect White in blitz time control to play} 27. exd6 $1 Nxg3 28. dxe7 $1 Nh5 29. Nd6 $1 Rxb1 30. Rxb1 Nf6 31. Qc4 {with a strong attack.}) 27... a3 $1 {Thanks to the Bh2 blocking the king's 'luft', Yee Weng's a-pawn cannot be stopped.} 28. Nxa3 Rxb1 29. Rxb1 Qxa3 $1 {Ouch! White's desperado rook deflection move cannot be played.} 30. Qf5 (30. Rb8+ {can be met by} Rxb8 31. Qxa3 Rb1+ {and White gets mated.}) 30... Qa2 31. exd6 exd6 32. Bxd6 Bxd4 33. Qxg5+ Ng7 34. Rf1 Qe2 35. Qd5 {and now the coupe de grace...} Bxf2+ $1 {Ghee shook his head and resigned.} 0-1
All games are available on CBV format at Olimpiu's website.

Watch Video of Round 1!

Monday, 22 December 2014

National Championships 2014

This is going to be a short post.

The following statement was posted on the SCF website:

"In view of the withdrawal of a player from the National Premier one day after the Technical Meeting, the EXCO decided to organise the National Championship by merging all the players in the categories – Premier, Candidates, Women & Challengers. There overall winner will be crowned National Champion provided he is a SC/SPR...."
The player in question is me. While I have no intention to begin any form of dispute with any party, I wish to highlight the following:
1) During the technical meeting, a decision was formed to include 3 players that did not qualify under the stipulations. This did not come as a surprise as the criteria is very high and Singapore does not have too many strong and active local players at present. Typically, these issues are thrashed out during the technical meeting when all the players are able to come to a compromise.
2) As there was no way I could have arrived on time (due to work schedule), I informed the in charge one day in advance, and even called him once I left my office to inform him my ETA. I arrived around 740pm only to realize that the meeting was over. 
3) The deadline to submit the registration was 13 Dec, before 6pm. No late entries are to be entertained. I did not receive any information prior to the technical meeting on 15 Dec.  
4) Last year, only 5 players played for the title in a double round robin. 
5) The revised and combined players' list includes IM Jason Goh, himself an extremely strong player and an ex-National Champion. He is therefore a more than worthy replacement for me for the Premier event. The question why Jason was included only now, and not in the earlier players' list was also valid, although I personally feel that his inclusion is beneficial for the tournament.
6) I had informed the SCF President of my withdrawal a day after the technical meeting, via email. I listed down a number of reasons, the main one being the change of stipulations without my involvement. 
7) I did not receive an official acknowledgement, neither did I receive a reply to my withdrawal notification.  
With the above facts, I will leave it to the readers to form their own conclusions. I would have loved to participate (my 12th year in a row, probably an unmatched record) but will regrettably be watching from the sidelines this year. 
In the meantime, Happy Winter Solstice, everyone!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

41st World Chess Olympiad - Rounds 6 - 8

Round 6: Bangladesh 1.5 - Singapore 2.5

In round 6, we faced a dangerous and highly ambitious all GM team from Bangladesh. In 2012, the Bangladeshi team had finished 32nd, their best ever result and this year they have engaged world class grandmaster Sergei Tiviakov to coach their Olympiad team for a month just before Tromso. However, despite being outrated on nearly every board, we felt that with a bit of luck, anything could happen and we managed to pull off, quite possibly, our best result in Tromso.

On Board 1, Zhang Zhong took the Black pieces against the very solid Ziaur Rahman. Before the game, I had predicted a solid draw, with a very slight chance that Zhang Zhong may obtain an imbalanced position and if so, would unleash a barrage of tactics onto his opponent. What happened was a demonstration of power play:

[Event "41st Olympiad Open 2014"] [Site "Tromso NOR"] [Date "2014.08.08"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Rahman, Ziaur"] [Black "Zhang, Zhong"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D11"] [WhiteElo "2523"] [BlackElo "2611"] [Annotator "Junior Tay"] [PlyCount "46"] [EventDate "2014.08.02"] [WhiteTeam "Bangladesh"] [BlackTeam "Singapore"] [WhiteTeamCountry "BAN"] [BlackTeamCountry "SIN"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. e3 a6 {The chief practitioners of this quaint pawn nudge at the top level are Morozevich and Aronian though Kasparov had employed it successfully in the early 2000s, beating the likes of Azmaiparashvili and Banikas. Aronian once said that the Chebanenko Slav (4... a6) is -"an invitation to battle. In recent times, both 4...Bg4 and 4...Bf5 have been popular, but the danger in both these lines is that the two players will die of boredom".} 5. Bd3 Bg4 6. Nbd2 e6 7. Qc2 dxc4 $5 (7... Nbd7 {is the typical move but the text is a favourite of Zhang Zhong's former team mate, GM Ni Hua so I guess he would be very familiar with its nuances.} 8. b3 Bd6 9. Bb2 {and here, the interesting} Qb8 {has been played by both Kasparov and Anand.}) 8. Nxc4 {With this, White trades structure for the bishop pair. This is an exchange Black would willingly accept on principal since he has erected the solid ...e6/...c6 structure and with the knowledge that the position will remained closed for quite a while. However, ZZ (and NI Hua before him) has a different interpretation.} (8. Bxc4 Nbd7 9. O-O {1/2-1/2 Lautier,J (2675) -Tkachiev,V (2645)/Besancon 2006} (9. e4 Rc8 10. O-O b5 11. Be2 c5 12. Qd1 cxd4 13. Nxd4 Bxe2 14. Qxe2 Nc5 15. N2f3 Be7 16. e5 {1/2-1/2 Stefansson,H (2585) -Iskusnyh,S (2465)/St Petersburg 2010})) 8... Bxf3 9. gxf3 c5 $1 {A central strike first initiated by Ni Hua which is a facet of modern chess. Usually, playing against the bishop pair, one would seek to keep the position closed so that the long range pieces cannot find strong diagonals to play on. American GM John Watson describes this sort of line opening best in his groundbreaking 'Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy' where he mentioned 'a careful look at modern chess reveals that, in practice, the acquisition of the bishop-pair is usually followed by a slowing down of the play, while he who takes on the knights will strive to open things up and 'mix it' . This is for a good reason. Acquisition of the two bishops in the early part of the game often comes at the cost of tempi and/or balance in one's position. If the two-bishop owner can lock things up a bit, he can reorganize and carefully engineer an opening of the position which will emphasize the bishops' natural superiority. This is precisely what the possessor of the knights wishes to avoid. Time favours the bishops, but early in the game, they are often passively placed, needing some tempi to find their best posts'. Here, ...c5 frees up the natural c6-square for the knight and if White does not want to enter the complications stemming from allowing ...cxd4, he has to allow the black bishop to develop with tempo.} (9... Nbd7 10. Bd2 Nd5 11. a3 (11. O-O-O Qh4 12. e4 Nb4 13. Qb3 Nxd3+ 14. Qxd3 Be7 15. Qb3 b5 16. Na5 O-O 17. Kb1 {1/2-1/2 Dreev,A (2666)-Ni Hua (2607)/Ergun 2006}) 11... Qh4 12. Ke2 Be7 13. Rag1 g6 14. b4 f5 15. f4 h6 16. Ne5 g5 17. Nf3 Qh5 18. e4 g4 19. exd5 gxf3+ 20. Kd1 exd5 21. Bxf5 O-O-O 22. Rg7 Bf6 23. Bg4 Qh4 24. Bxd7+ {Najer,E (2677)-Ni Hua (2607)/Ergun 2006, 1/2-1/2 (38)}) 10. dxc5 ({The first time Ni Hua brandished 9...c5 in international play, GM Mark Paragua employed a tricky line but the Chinese knew his stuff and soon a draw was agreed.} 10. Bd2 Nc6 (10... cxd4 $5 11. Ba5 (11. Na5 $5) 11... Qd5 12. Be4 Nxe4 13. fxe4 Qg5 14. h4 Qh5 15. Qb3 {is extremely tricky.}) 11. dxc5 Bxc5 12. Bc3 Rc8 13. Be4 Nb4 14. Qd1 b5 15. Qxd8+ Rxd8 16. a3 Nbd5 17. Bxf6 Nxf6 18. Nd2 Ke7 19. Rc1 Bd6 20. Ke2 Rc8 21. f4 g6 22. Bb7 Rb8 23. Bg2 Rhe8 {1/2-1/2 Paragua,M (2514)-Ni,H (2641)/Manila 2007}) 10... Bxc5 11. a3 {This is the theoretical continuation which takes the b4-square away from Black's knight and bishop.} ({The depth of Ni Hua's preparation can be seen from the following game.} 11. Be4 Nxe4 12. Qxe4 Qd5 13. Qxd5 exd5 14. Na5 Nc6 $1 15. Bd2 (15. Nxb7 Be7 16. Bd2 Rb8 17. Na5 Nxa5 18. Bxa5 Rxb2 19. Bc3 Rc2 20. Bxg7 Rg8 21. Be5 f6 22. Bg3 {and Black is not worse despite being half a pawn down.}) 15... Nxa5 16. Bxa5 Ke7 17. Ke2 Ke6 18. Rhd1 b6 19. Bc3 f6 20. Rd3 Rhd8 21. Rad1 Rd7 22. f4 Rad8 23. a3 a5 24. a4 $11 {Nguyen,N (2656)-Ni,H (2673)/Ho Chi Minh City 2012}) 11... b5 ({Black paused with} 11... Nc6 {and this allowed White to develop his bishop ideally after} 12. b4 Be7 13. Bb2 b5 14. Nd2 Rc8 15. Qb3 O-O 16. Rc1 Ne5 17. Be2 Rxc1+ 18. Bxc1 Qd6 19. f4 Ng6 20. Nf3 Nd5 21. Bb2 {though Black's lead in development ensures equal chances.} Bf6 22. Bxf6 Nxf6 23. O-O e5 $11 {1/2-1/2 Likavsky,T (2486)-Solak,D (2602)/Skopje 2012}) 12. Nd2 {White's plan is to exert more control over e4.} (12. Ne5 {has not achieved much for White} Nbd7 (12... Qd5 13. Be4 Nxe4 14. Qxe4 Qxe4 15. fxe4 Bd6 {1/2-1/2 Dreev,A (2670)-Ni,H (2710)/Reggio Emilia 2008}) 13. Nxd7 Nxd7 14. b4 Be7 15. Bb2 Rc8 16. Qb1 Bf6 17. a4 Ne5 18. Bxe5 Bxe5 19. Ra2 Rb8 20. O-O Bxh2+ {1/2-1/2 Jiménez Molina,G (2326)-Belka,W (2447)/ICCF 2012}) 12... Nbd7 13. Ne4 $6 {This move is a flagrant waste of a tempo as the knight moves 3 times to remove a Black minor piece which has just gotten out of the stable.} ( 13. b4 Bd6 14. Bb2 Rc8 15. Qb3 {1/2-1/2 Jensen,E (2501)-Sadowski,M (2501)/ICCF 2012} O-O 16. Ke2 $6 (16. O-O $11) 16... Be5 $1 {and once the dark squared bishop is traded off, Black has no problems. Nyback,T (2655)-Sokolov,I (2669)/ Malmo 2009.}) 13... Rc8 14. Nxf6+ Qxf6 {...and the Black queen is activated in the process too. Black's lead in development is already looking scary.} 15. Ke2 $2 (15. Bd2 $5 Nb6 16. Bc3 Qh4 {already looks dangerous for White.}) 15... Ke7 {ZZ connects the rooks without offering White a g-file target.} ({Houdini recommends} 15... Ne5 16. f4 Nxd3 17. Qxd3 O-O {and Black's colossal lead in development as well as the insecure White king are ominous signs.}) 16. Qb1 { Another natural move (to get the queen out of the rook's range) which exacerbates matters.} ({The only defence is} 16. Qc3 $5 Qxc3 (16... Ne5 17. f4 Nxd3 18. Qxf6+ Kxf6 19. Kxd3 Rhd8+ 20. Ke2 (20. Ke4 Bf8 21. b3 Rc2 22. Rb1 Ke7 $15) 20... Be7 21. b4 Rc2+ 22. Kf3 Rd3) (16... Qh6 17. h4 {is playable for White. The discovered attack on the White queen is not that big a deal in comparison with the other two lines.}) 17. bxc3 Nb6 $17 {and White's wretched pawn structure gives Black the advanage in this ending.}) 16... Ne5 $1 $19 { The beginning of the end. ZZ's pieces start taking aim at the hapless White king.} 17. Be4 {The f3-pawn is only temporarily protected as Black sets up ... f5.} (17. f4 Nxd3 18. Qxd3 Qh4 19. Qe4 Rhd8 20. b4 Bb6 21. Ra2 Rc4 22. Qg2 Qh5+ 23. Qf3 Qg6 24. Rd2 Rc2 25. Rhd1 Qd3+ 26. Ke1 Qc3 27. Qb7+ Bc7 28. Kf1 Rdxd2 29. Bxd2 Qxa3 $19) 17... Qh4 18. b3 f5 19. Bb7 Rc7 20. Bb2 $4 ({Houdini showed that the best way to resist is} 20. Qb2 Bd6 21. Qd4 Qxd4 22. exd4 Rxb7 23. Bg5+ Kf7 24. dxe5 Bxe5 25. Rac1 {though this pawn up ending clearly offers Black good winning chances.}) 20... Ng6 $1 {ZZ wants to blow open White's central shell and this knight will be the detonator.} 21. Rc1 Nf4+ $3 {Boom!} 22. Kf1 ( 22. exf4 Qxf2+ 23. Kd1 Rd8+) 22... Qh3+ 23. Ke1 Qxh2 {White has had enough suffering.} 0-1

A complete demolition that bode well for the team's chances to pull off a result!

On Board 2, I was White against another, very solid player in the form of Abdulla Al-Rakib. Prior to this round, Abdulla had had a great tournament, scoring a 2700+ performances including a draw against Ponomariov with Black and so I was certainly kept on my toes. Looking through his games, I had the impression that he was not an extremely theoretical player so I expected something non-standard to appear on the board. Rather surprisingly, my opponent took me by surprise and played the trendy 5...0-0!? and 6....d5! in the Giucco Piano. Fortunately, I had prepared this line quite extensively in the past and was able to throw out some reasonable opening prep:

[Event "41st World Chess Olympiad"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.09"] [Round "6"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Abdulla Al-Rakib"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "2433"] [BlackElo "2522"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "91"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 $5 {This was a small surprise.} ({On my database, my opponent had only played} 3... Bc5 {but perhaps, my opponent was trying to avoid certain lines such as} 4. c3 ({or the Max Lange Attack with} 4. O-O Nf6 5. d4 $5) 4... Nf6 5. d4 {although Black is doing pretty well in both lines. However, this move order allowed 4.Ng5 which I briefly considered...}) 4. d3 {I have been playing these quiet lines of the Italian for a few years now with very decent results. It has proved useful in my recent encounters with grandmasters as I've managed to obtain slight pulls in most of my games and the positions I've obtained are normally solid enough even if my opponent equalised early from the opening.} ({My opponent is a sound positional player and plays solid chess and hence I contemplated the more aggressive and complex } 4. Ng5 $5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6 8. Bd3 $5 {, a line which I've studied in considerable depth some 4 years ago. However, I discarded the idea quickly as obviously, it makes more sense to stick to what I know best. I would also look foolish if my opponent turned out to be an expert in the Two Knights' Defence!}) 4... Bc5 {Transposing to the Giucco Piano.} (4... Be7 {is the main alternative and I'll face this move in an absolutely critical game in round 9.}) 5. c3 O-O $5 {Yet another surprise! However, this was a pleasant one as I've looked through this particular variation in some detail given how popular it is.} 6. O-O d5 $1 {This is the point of an early castling.} ({The normal} 6... d6 7. Bg5 {gives White an annoying pin.}) 7. exd5 Nxd5 8. Re1 { The consequence of an early d5 is that e5 is more vulnerable and White has to target the pawn immediately to have any hopes of an opening advantage. The potential threat of b2-b4-b5, hitting the c6 knight means that Black more often than not had to give up the e5 pawn in return for activity.} Bg4 (8... Re8 $2 9. d4 $1 {is strong.}) 9. h3 (9. Nbd2 {, with the idea of} Be7 {(the bishop is about to be hit by Ne4)} 10. h3 Bh5 11. Ne4 {followed by Ng3 is another promising idea.}) 9... Bh5 10. b4 Be7 $6 {The most natural but not the best. My opponent had clearly not prepared this at home which is kind of strange given how popular this particular variation is these days.} (10... Bb6 11. b5 Na5 12. Rxe5 Nf6 13. Nbd2 Bxf3 14. Qxf3 Bd4 $1 15. Re2 Bxc3 16. Rb1 {is the mainline in my preparation. The analysis goes much deeper than this but my conclusion was that even though Black should equalise with precise play, White is the one doing all the pressing.}) ({During the game, I suddenly became worried of} 10... Bxf3 11. Qxf3 Ndxb4 $2 {given that cxb4 loses to ...Bd4. Since I've checked this with engines before, I was sure there was a tactical refutation and I just had to work it out myself. I soon found} 12. Na3 $1 { which leads to a forced gain of material and silently breathed a sigh of relief....}) 11. b5 Na5 12. Rxe5 Nf6 13. Nbd2 Bd6 14. Re1 Qd7 15. Qa4 $6 {This felt natural but wasn't the best.} (15. a4 {was in my analysis which I obviously forgot. The line goes} Nxc4 16. Nxc4 Rae8 17. Rxe8 Rxe8 18. Bd2 {and Black has some compensation but White remains a pawn up and has a safe position.}) 15... Nxc4 16. Qxc4 a6 $1 {Initiating counterplay on the queenside. } 17. Rb1 axb5 18. Qxb5 (18. Rxb5 $2 c6 19. Rb1 b5 $1 $17) 18... Rxa2 19. Qxb7 {As compared to the positions a few moves ago, Black had clearly made some progress, exchanging off some queenside pawns and getting a rook to the 7th rank. In many ways, this position is similar to the Marshall Gambit where Black typically gets 2 bishops in exchange for a pawn deficit. However, White is still very solid and his queen is actively placed on the b7 square so it is still unclear whether Black's activity is sufficient to claim equality.} Nd5 $2 {This was a very tempting move to play from Black's perspective and I fully expected it. However, the engine quickly showed why this was a serious inaccuracy.} (19... Rfa8 $5) ({and} 19... Bg6 {were better options.}) 20. Rb3 $2 (20. Qb3 $1 Ra6 21. Ne5 $1 Bxe5 (21... Qe6 22. Ndc4 $1 $16) 22. Rxe5 Nf4 { was what I calculated and it looked extremely scary since Black was about to go ...Ra6-g6 or ...Nxh3 sacrifices. Houdini coolly defends with} 23. Qc4 $1 Ra4 24. Rb4 Ne2+ 25. Kh2 Rxb4 26. cxb4 Bg6 27. Bb2 Bxd3 28. Qd5 $1 {with a serious endgame advantage for White. Despite the material parity, White should be able to win the c7 pawn in due time with moves like Be5 and Rc5.}) 20... Nf4 21. c4 {I had wanted to defend along the 3rd rank in this manner and also wanted to keep my queen on b7 to further support f3.} h6 {After gaining so much activity after the last 5-6 moves, this "pause" in the action came as a total surprise.} (21... Ra1 $1 {, threatening to take on c1 was extremely strong. Here, White had to play the impossible} 22. Nb1 $3 {to force a draw:} Nxh3+ 23. gxh3 Qxh3 24. Nbd2 Qg4+ 25. Kf1 Qh3+ {and so on.}) 22. d4 Ra1 23. Rbe3 Rfa8 $6 (23... Raa8 {, followed by Rfb8 seems more to the point. Black would have controlled both a and b files.}) 24. Bb2 R1a7 25. Qb3 c6 26. Ne5 Qc7 27. Ndf3 $2 {Both players were in mild time trouble at this point, the perfect excuse for making bad moves!} (27. c5 Bxe5 28. Rxe5 Rb7 29. Qg3 $1 f6 30. Re7 Ne2+ 31. R1xe2 Qxg3 32. fxg3 Rxb2 33. g4 {would retain a small but pleasant edge although Black's position will be hard to crack after he manoeuvres his bishop to d5.}) 27... Rb7 $1 28. Qc2 f6 $2 {Missing a big winning chance.} ({After} 28... Ra2 $1 {, I had intended} 29. Rb3 {where I thought I would be doing quite well but I missed} Bxe5 30. Nxe5 f6 $1 31. Nf3 Bg6 $1 32. Qc3 Qb8 $1 {, winning material and the game on the spot. Phew!}) 29. c5 {Now the position becomes murky again and the resulting time scramble was apparently very entertaining to follow according to the FB Group.} Bf8 30. Nc4 Nd5 31. Rb3 Rxb3 32. Qxb3 Rb8 33. Qa3 $1 Bf7 34. Nfd2 {I've managed to consolidate and all my pieces are now defended so there was definite progress.} Nf4 35. Bc1 Qd8 (35... Bd5 36. Ne3 Re8 $5) 36. Qc3 Qd5 37. Ne3 Qg5 38. Ng4 $1 {My knight had hopped a long way in this game! With the threats of Ne4/Nf3 and an unpleasant discovered attack on the f4 knight, Black was facing a difficult situation. In severe time trouble, my opponent wasn't able to find a solution.} Qg6 $4 {This loses.} (38... Nxg2 39. Kxg2 h5 {didn't work due to the simple} 40. Qg3 $1) (38... Nd5 $1 39. Qg3 Re8 40. Nf1 Qg6 41. Rxe8 Bxe8 $14 {was best.}) 39. Qg3 $1 {Loose pieces drop off! My opponent had of course overlooked this and the game was essentially over.} Nd3 40. Re3 Nxc1 $4 {This made it even easier for me.} (40... Re8 $1 { would have kept material parity although White would still have won after} 41. Rxd3 Re1+ 42. Kh2 Rxc1 43. Ra3 $1) 41. Qxb8 h5 42. Nh2 Qc2 43. Nhf3 Bg6 44. Ra3 Qd1+ 45. Kh2 (45. Nf1 Ne2+ 46. Kh2 Nxd4 47. Ra8 Ne6) 45... Qe2 46. Ra8 ({I had seen the beautiful finish} 46. Ne5 $3 fxe5 47. Ra8 Qxf2 48. Nf3 $1 {but why bother?}) 1-0

A rather fortunate win but I am not complaining!

 On Board 3, Qianyun equalised quite comfortably with 3...h6!? of the French Tarrasch and had very good chances to obtain a sizeable edge in the middlegame. The game hovered around equal to slightly better for Black for much of the game until White played an absolute howler, gifting Qianyun an incredible opportunity: A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.08"] [Round "6.26"] [White "Hossain Enamul"] [Black "Gong Qianyun"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C03"] [WhiteElo "2421"] [BlackElo "2328"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/Q4pk1/5b2/6pp/P4p2/5N1P/2q2PPK/8 w - - 0 44"] [PlyCount "8"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:06:04"] [BlackClock "0:12:02"] {After a big middlegame fight where Qianyun had very reasonable chances of securing a large advantage, the position had dwindled to a comparatively calm and simple one. Black had some form of an attack with ...g4 in the pipeline but the a5 passed pawn will keep Black in check and the most likely result is a draw. Amazingly, the experienced Bangladeshi decided to force matters with} 44. h4 $4 g4 45. Ng5 $4 (45. Ng1 $1 {is the computer's defence but after} Bxh4 46. Qd4+ Kg6 $1 47. Qxf4 Bxf2 {Black should still be winning.}) 45... Qb3 $4 ( 45... Bxg5 46. hxg5 g3+ 47. fxg3 f3 48. Qd4+ Kh7 49. g6+ Kxg6 50. Qb6+ f6 51. Qg1 Qe2 {[%cal Gf3f2,Gf2f1] was a fairly straight forward win.}) 46. g3 fxg3+ 47. fxg3 Qc2+ 1/2-1/2

After the game, Qianyun was utterly dismayed to have missed such a straight forward win and I had to remind her that her draw did clinch the match for us!

On the last board, young Qing Aun had his hands full against the dangerous Niaz Murshed, an old but still very strong player. Qing Aun clearly still lacks the experience in playing these high level team events but he had maintained an extremely positive attitude throughout the tournament, cheering the team on even when he was not playing and following each game religiously.

After this victory, Leslie wanted to take us out for dinner but I had to decline given that I had a terrible headache after my game. More importantly, I wanted some time to myself to understand why I was getting into all these time trouble and how I can avoid this in the subsequent rounds. True enough, poor time management would eventually lead to a few highly costly mistakes within the next few days....

Leslie's solution was simple enough - he offered to buy us dinner to celebrate once we win our match the next day! Surprisingly, we were given this chance when we were paired against the lower seeded Faroe Islands, a team whom we had beaten in the past and one that we certainly expected to beat here.

Round 7 - Faroe Islands 0.5 - Singapore 3.5

It's National day and we managed to celebrate Singapore's 49th birthday by scoring a comprehensive win against the Faroe Islands. On Board 1, Zhang Zhong faced the talented IM Ziska Helgi Dam, whom he had beaten in the 2012 edition. The White player played very solidly although Zhang had one chance to secure a stable edge:

A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.09"] [Round "7.21"] [White "Ziska Helgi Dam"] [Black "Zhang Zhong"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C07"] [WhiteElo "2507"] [BlackElo "2611"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1bq1rk1/1p2nppp/p1nb4/3p4/8/1N1B1N1P/PPP2PP1/R1BQ1RK1 w - - 0 11"] [PlyCount "48"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:10:10"] [BlackClock "0:09:45"] {The opening had gone rather smoothly for Zhang Zhong as he had obtained equality and an imbalanced game. He may have the IQP but all his pieces were more or less well placd.} 11. Nbd4 ({I felt} 11. Re1 {was also possible but maybe White didn't like} Bf5 {when Black manages to exchange his dark square bishop. Still, White should get a typical plus after} 12. Be3 Re8 13. c3) ({As such, maybe after} 11. Re1 {, Black should go} Bc7 12. c3 Nf5 {, with reasonable play.}) 11... Bc7 ({Interestingly, the computer suggested the counter intuitive} 11... Nxd4 12. Nxd4 Nc6 {. I was taught not to initiate piece exchanges when you have the IQP and as usual, the computer is most adept at destroying well established maxims! Still, any human will prefer White after } 13. Nf3 Bc7 14. Re1) 12. Re1 h6 13. Be3 Qd6 14. c3 Ng6 15. Bf1 $2 {A rather feeble move.} (15. Nxc6 bxc6 16. b4 $1 Ne5 17. Nxe5 Qxe5 18. g3 $1 Qf6 ({both} 18... Qxc3 19. Bc5 Rd8 20. Rc1 Qa3 21. Re7) ({and} 18... Bxh3 19. Bf4 {are bad for Black.}) 19. Bd4 {and White is slightly better.}) 15... Bd7 16. Nxc6 bxc6 17. b4 Rfe8 18. Bc5 Rxe1 19. Qxe1 Qf6 20. Bd4 Qf5 21. Qb1 Qh5 (21... Qf4 $5) 22. Qd1 $6 {White goes all out for the draw!} (22. g4 {looks like a risky move but the computer showed that White defends after} Bxg4 23. hxg4 Qxg4+ 24. Bg2 Nf4 25. Qf1 h5 26. Be3 h4 27. Bxf4 Bxf4 28. Nh2 $1 {, with unclear play.}) 22... Nf4 $1 23. Ne1 $2 Qg6 24. Kh1 Re8 $6 (24... Bf5 $1 {would have given Black a substantial advantage. For example,} 25. Qd2 a5 {(the attack on both flanks is very difficult to handle in a practical game)} 26. bxa5 Rxa5 27. a4 Ne6 {followed by ideas like ...Be4 and ...c5.}) 25. Qf3 Bf5 26. Qg3 Qxg3 27. fxg3 Ne2 28. g4 Bg6 29. a4 f5 (29... f6 $5 {[%cal Gg8f7]}) 30. gxf5 Bxf5 31. Nf3 Bd3 32. Bxe2 Bxe2 33. Kg1 Bxf3 34. gxf3 Bd6 {and White eventually held this endgame.} 1/2-1/2

On Board 2, I managed to win my game from a rather obscure Sicilian Rossolimo: A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "41st World Chess Olympiad"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.10"] [Round "7"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Olaf Berg"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B31"] [WhiteElo "2433"] [BlackElo "2320"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "53"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. O-O Bg7 5. Nc3 $5 {A slightly obscure line that I've prepared with Erik for the game against Salgado Lopez.} b6 $6 (5... e5 {was played against me in the final round and may well be best.}) 6. Re1 Bb7 7. d3 Nd4 8. Nxd4 cxd4 9. Ne2 ({I was very close to playing} 9. Nd5 $5 {until I realise Black could play} a6 10. Ba4 b5 11. Bb3 e6 12. Bf4 d6 {and I didn't see a clear follow up. The computer nonchatlantly suggests} 13. e5 $1 exd5 14. exd6+ Kf8 15. Qf3 {with compensation.}) 9... Bc6 10. Bc4 d5 $2 {I was very surprised with this move but perhaps my opponent had simply missed the bishop check. Of course, there are a few much better alternatives.} 11. exd5 Bxd5 12. Bb5+ Kf8 13. Ng3 $6 (13. c4 $5 {was in my thoughts but I wanted to keep this for later use.}) 13... Qc7 {Strangely enough, Black may well be fine here despite his awkward king position. The plan was to play ...h7-h5, ...Be5, .... Kg7 and ...Nf6 and I didn't see what I could do against this simple plan.} 14. Bd2 Be5 $2 ({I was rather worried of} 14... h5 $1 {and indeed, the computer gave a 0.00 evaluation here.}) 15. c3 $1 {Opening up the queenside to decisive effect.} h5 16. Rc1 Bxg3 17. fxg3 Qc5 18. c4 Bb7 19. Qe2 {With the pair bishop, pressure down the e-file and a passed c-pawn in the making, Black was quite lost here.} Nf6 20. b4 Qc7 21. Bf4 Qd8 22. c5 bxc5 23. bxc5 Nd5 24. c6 Nxf4 25. gxf4 Bc8 26. c7 Qd6 27. Qe4 1-0

Qianyun's game was a rather strange one where her opponent sacrificed the exchange early in the opening for very little in return. White perhaps had something that resembled an attack but Qianyun, true to her aggressive style was the one that eventually broke through with an attack of her own: A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.09"] [Round "7.23"] [White "Nielsen Hogni Egilstoft"] [Black "Gong Qianyun"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C03"] [WhiteElo "2256"] [BlackElo "2328"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "56"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:00:43"] [BlackClock "0:31:28"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 h6 $5 {The 4...h6 Tarrasch is sort of a Qianyun specialty. I remember playing this little pawn move in 2004 after reading an article on it by John Watson in NIC magazine and I've had a pretty good score with it even though I often get bad positions! Objectively, there is nothing much wrong with this line although I think White should get a small plus in one of the mainlines.} 4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 Nfd7 6. c3 c5 7. Bd3 Nc6 8. Qe2 $6 { Hard to see what White was planning here. The White queen was misplaced on the e2 square.} (8. O-O g5 $1 {is the key idea and this position would be contested in one of Qianyun's later games.}) 8... cxd4 9. cxd4 Nb4 $1 {and just like that, Black had seized the initiative.} 10. Bb1 b6 11. O-O $2 { Played after a 30 minute think. The exchange sac was speculative at best and there was surely a better way to resolve the problems in hand.} ({For example, } 11. Nb3 Ba6 12. Qd1 Rc8 13. a3 Nc6 14. Be3 {followed by Bd3 and White would be able to unravel with a decent position.}) 11... Ba6 12. Qd1 Bxf1 13. Nxf1 Rc8 14. Bd2 Nc6 15. Ng3 g6 16. h4 Bg7 17. h5 g5 18. Be3 Qe7 19. a3 O-O 20. Qd3 f5 21. exf6 Bxf6 22. Nh2 Qg7 {Qianyun parries the White attack rather easily.} 23. Ng4 $2 Bxd4 24. Bxd4 Nxd4 25. Nxh6+ Qxh6 26. Qxd4 Rc1+ 27. Kh2 Rf4 28. Bh7+ Qxh7 {A rather mind boggling game where White appeared to have missed every trick in the position.} 0-1

The star game of the round was certainly Jingyao's win on board 4. From an innocuous looking position where White appeared to have the slightest of advantage but no more, Jingyao displayed a lot of maturity and surprising endgame technique to squeeze out a win and keeping his IM norm chances alive: A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "41st Olympiad Open 2014"] [Site "Tromso NOR"] [Date "2014.08.09"] [Round "7.4"] [White "Tin, Jingyao"] [Black "Nilssen, John Arni"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D52"] [WhiteElo "2251"] [BlackElo "2322"] [Annotator "Junior Tay"] [PlyCount "97"] [EventDate "2014.08.02"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 e6 5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. e3 Qa5 7. Nd2 Bb4 8. Qc2 O-O 9. Be2 c5 {Black attacks the White centre immediately, giving the game a Nimzo Indian flavour. The argument in Black being able to waste a move with ... c6-c5 is that White has done the same with Nf3-d2.} (9... e5 {was played in the famous Magnus Carlsen vs Kasparov rapid match game 1 where the former World Champion had to suffer for a draw one pawn down before beating the current World Champion in game 2 easily.} 10. O-O exd4 11. Nb3 Qb6 12. exd4 dxc4 13. Bxc4 a5 14. a4 Qc7 15. Rae1 h6 16. Bh4 Bd6 17. h3 Nb6 18. Bxf6 Nxc4 19. Ne4 Bh2+ (19... Be6 $14) 20. Kh1 Nd6 $2 21. Kxh2 Nxe4+ 22. Be5 Nd6 $16 { Carlsen,M (2484)-Kasparov,G (2831)/Reykjavik 2004}) 10. Bxf6 (10. Nb3 Qc7 11. O-O dxc4 12. Bxc4 cxd4 13. Nb5 Qb8 14. N5xd4 Bd6 15. f4 h6 16. Bh4 a6 $14 { Ivanchuk,V (2740)-Kasparov,G (2825)/Frankfurt 1998}) 10... Nxf6 11. Nb3 Bxc3+ $146 (11... Qc7 12. dxc5 {1/2-1/2 Goldin,A (2600)-Asrian,K (2645)/Beer Sheva 2005/CBM 110}) ({During the game, I was looking at the following pawn sacrifice typical in the Grunfeld Indian to play on the a- and c-files.} 11... Qa4 12. dxc5 b6 $5 {However, after} 13. O-O $1 (13. cxb6 dxc4 14. Nd4 Qxc2 15. Nxc2 Bxc3+ 16. bxc3 axb6 17. Bxc4 Bb7 18. f3 Rfc8 19. Bb3 Rxc3) 13... Bxc3 14. Qxc3 Ba6 15. cxb6 axb6 16. Nd2 Rfd8 17. b3 Qa3 18. Rfd1 Rac8 19. Qc1 {and White has consolidated.}) 12. bxc3 {Keeping queens on is imperative if White wants to play for a win.} (12. Qxc3 Qxc3+ 13. bxc3 cxd4 14. cxd4 dxc4 15. Bxc4 Bd7 {is easier for Black to handle.}) 12... Qa4 $1 {A good move, typical of the Cambridge Springs. Black keeps the presure on the c-pawn.} 13. Rc1 cxd4 $6 {The resulting position gives White a slight pull.} ({Now,} 13... b6 $1 {is the right way to go as after} 14. cxd5 c4 15. Na1 Qxc2 16. Nxc2 exd5 17. f3 $11 Re8 18. Kf2 {, chances are even with Black attempting to press with the queenside pawns and White either restraining them or trying to advance on the kingside.}) (13... b6) 14. cxd4 dxc4 15. Qxc4 Qxc4 ({Perhaps keeping queens on with} 15... Qa3 {is better.}) 16. Rxc4 {What we now have how, are pawn structures similar to the Grunfeld Indian Defence though without the dark squared bishops, Black's task seems to be a trifle tougher to attain counterplay.} b6 17. Rc2 {Avoiding unnecessary exchanges.} Bb7 18. f3 Nd5 $6 { This looks strange as Black could easily contest the c-file.} (18... Rac8 19. Rxc8 Rxc8 20. Kd2 Kf8 21. e4 Ke7 {I don't think Black has any problems here.}) 19. Kd2 Rfd8 (19... f5 $5 {is a Houdini suggestion. White's central majority is temporarily halted and Black gets play against the centre. However, there is the 'small' mattter of giving up an outpost on e5....} 20. Bc4 {and I think White only has a teensy weensy edge here.}) 20. e4 Nf6 {After this, Jingyao gets in a squeeze.} ({With hindsight, probably} 20... Nf4 21. Rc7 Rab8 22. g3 Nxe2 23. Kxe2 Kf8 24. Ke3 Ke8 25. Rhc1 Rd7 26. R7c3 Kd8 27. Nd2 Rc8 28. Rxc8+ Bxc8 29. e5 Bb7 {and it is not easy for White to improve his position any more. }) 21. Rc7 Rab8 22. Bb5 $1 {A strong anticipatory move, egging Black to weaken his queenside.} Kf8 (22... a6 23. Bc6 Bxc6 24. Rxc6 $14) 23. Rhc1 Ne8 24. Bxe8 $1 {Now Black has to worry about a knight getting to d6 after e4-e5.} Kxe8 25. Ke3 Rd7 26. R7c4 Kd8 27. Ra4 a5 {This slight weakening of the queenside allows White some incentive to torture for a while.} ({I like} 27... Ba8 $5 {, keeping things compact but maybe Black is hoping to outplay his younger and lower-rated opponent.}) 28. Rac4 Rd6 {Finally, Black falters and allows White a tempo to achieve e4-e5 and stick that pesky knight on d6.} (28... Rc8 29. Rxc8+ Bxc8 30. Rc6 Rb7 (30... a4 31. Nd2 Rc7 32. Rxc7 Kxc7 33. Kd3 {and things get dodgy for Black as the white king heads for b4.}) 31. e5 Bd7 32. Rd6 Ke7 33. h4 {and White has a slight edge, nothing much.}) 29. Nd2 $1 {Jingyao possesses a very strong strategic sense and this knight regrouping shows he knew exactly where this knight belongs...and this will surface in a short while.} Rc8 {Too obliging. This allows Jingyao to plant a superb knight on d6, thanks to his 29th move.} (29... f6 {is more testing as if White wants to establish a pawn on e5, he will either have to agree to a pawn exchange on that square, and if that occurs, ...Rd5 will hit e5 and f3-f4 will allow the Bb7 room to roam.}) 30. Rxc8+ $16 Bxc8 31. e5 Rd7 32. Ne4 Rc7 33. Rxc7 Kxc7 34. Nd6 Bb7 ({More challenging is} 34... Ba6 {when White must watch out for the queenside passer, for example, after} 35. Nxf7 Kc6 36. Ng5 Kd5 37. Nxh7 Bc4 38. a3 b5 39. Ng5 a4 $1 40. f4 b4 41. axb4 a3 42. Ne4 Ba6 $1 43. Nc3+ Kc4 {and White, despite being 3 pawns up cannot expect more than a draw because of the pesky a-pawn.}) 35. Nxf7 Bd5 36. a3 b5 37. Kd3 b4 38. axb4 axb4 39. Nd6 Kd7 40. h4 h6 $2 {It's actually very common to make the error just prior to making time control. This move allows the kingside pawns to be fixed.} (40... Ba2 41. Kc2 $16) 41. Nc4 (41. h5 $1 $18 {is stronger.}) 41... g5 $4 {Black lashes out and and this once again allows the black h-pawn to be fixed and eventually plucked.} (41... g6 {is prevent h4-h5 is more prudent.}) 42. Ne3 $1 $18 {The knight is heading for g4 to eat the chestnut on h6.} Kc6 ({Of course not} 42... gxh4 43. Nxd5 exd5 {when the protected passed e-pawn wins hands down.}) 43. h5 {There goes the h-pawn...The rest is easy.} Bb3 44. Ng4 Kb5 45. Nxh6 Ka4 46. Ng4 Ba2 47. Ne3 Bb1+ 48. Kd2 Kb5 49. Nc2 1-0

The next match up saw us being paired with Belgium, not your traditional powerhouse like its neighbours France and Holland but still a pretty decent team with 4 2500+ on all 4 boards. Still, the team was in excellent spirits and while no one dared to say it during the team meeting, I was certain that everyone fancied their chances against the higher seeded team. The match indeed turned out to be a very close affair and perhaps, we could have counted ourselves a little lucky.....

 Round 8: Singapore 2 - Belgium 2

Zhang Zhong was terribly annoyed after allowing his opponent to equalise quite easily from the opening. I actually was pretty impressed with Michiels Bart whom I was expecting to play after going through his games. He seemed to be an extremely well prepared and thorough player and hence I wasn't entirely surprised with the speed he was playing against our no.1 player.

Probably frustrated with himself, Zhang pushed a little too hard and found himself at danger of losing. The critical moment came during the 5th hour when both players were quite likely exhaused and therefore missed:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.10"] [Round "8.1"] [White "Zhang Zhong"] [Black "Michiels Bart"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D11"] [WhiteElo "2611"] [BlackElo "2535"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1B6/R7/8/5p1p/1p2b3/1P3kP1/P5r1/3K4 b - - 0 50"] [PlyCount "8"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:13:17"] [BlackClock "0:03:35"] {Zhang Zhong had surprisingly misplayed a drawn endgame and Black had his one and only chance in this particular position.} 50... f4 $4 {Fortunately, he threw it away!} (50... h4 51. gxh4 Ke3 {was a fairly straightforward win.}) 51. Rf7 Rxa2 52. Bxf4 Bc2+ 53. Kc1 Bxb3 54. Rf5 {and the game soon petered out to a draw.} 1/2-1/2

A big, big escape from Zhang! On Board 2, I played a roller coaster game with the youngster Ringoir Tanguy: A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "41st World Chess Olympiad"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.11"] [Round "8"] [White "Ringoir Tanguy"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D70"] [WhiteElo "2508"] [BlackElo "2433"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "69"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 $5 {I had envisioned that this popular move may surface in one of my games in the Olympiad and had prepared quite hard for it.} ({I had prepared quite hard for this particular variation of the Grunfeld:} 3. Nc3 d5 4. e3 Bg7 5. Qb3 e6 {which my opponent had played on multiple occasions. }) 3... d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nb6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. Nc3 O-O 8. Qd2 e5 9. d5 c6 10. Rd1 {I had absolutely no idea what the theory is after this.} (10. h4 cxd5 11. exd5 N8d7 12. h5 Nf6 13. hxg6 fxg6 14. O-O-O {is the big mainline.}) 10... cxd5 11. exd5 N8d7 (11... Na6 {was apparently the theory. I guess I'll have to take a look at this when I have the time!}) (11... Nc4 {looked very tempting but after} 12. Bxc4 Qh4+ 13. Bf2 Qxc4 14. Nge2 {, White gets to castle quite easily as compared to the game and this should be a better version.}) 12. Nh3 Nc4 13. Bxc4 Qh4+ 14. Nf2 Qxc4 15. b3 Qa6 16. a4 $2 {White embarked on a rather strange plan involving Nc3-b5 which simply looked too time consuming to be good.} (16. Nd3 $1 {was my key consideration and here, I thought Black would be fine after} f5 {but in fact, White gains a sizeable advantage after} 17. O-O Qa5 18. d6 $1 {with the key point that} e4 {can be met by} 19. Nxe4 $1 {This was the nuance that both my opponent and I had missed during the game. Pretty poor stuff.}) 16... f5 $1 {Black's position looked promising and I was happy with the fact that both ...e4 and ...f4 pawn breaks looked dangerous and White still had to find a reasonable way to castle. Here, I was already feeling quite optimistic.} 17. Nh3 f4 18. Bf2 Nf6 19. Nb5 $2 {The move I was hoping my opponent would play...but was sure that he wouldn't!} ({I was certain that my opponent would go} 19. Ng5 Bf5 20. Nge4 {, with the view of plugging some holes although I would still be very happy with my position after } Rac8 $36) 19... Bxh3 20. gxh3 e4 $1 {Opening up more lines for my pieces! White was in dire straits at this point.} 21. Bc5 $2 {This should have lost by force.} ({The computer suggests} 21. Nc7 e3 $1 22. Qb4 exf2+ 23. Kxf2 Qb6+ 24. Qxb6 axb6 25. Nxa8 Rxa8 {as White's best defence but this position should very likely be lost.}) 21... Rfe8 22. O-O e3 23. Qe2 {Here, I sank into deep thought mode as I had recognised that this was the critical juncture whereby an important decision had to be made. Black had made a lot of progress, advancing his e-pawn to the e3 square which was well supported by the f4 pawn. At the same time, White's kingside pawn structure was wrecked and these 2 factors alone were enough to convince me that Black had a near decisive advantage here. However, White was not without counterplay. Like in most Grunfeld lines, his main source of play was his passed d-pawn and here his pieces were ideally placed to play around that d-pawn.} Rad8 $2 {This threw away the main bulk of the advantage. I had overlooked a nasty trick which will be clearer after a few more moves.} ({Instead,} 23... Re5 $1 {was the tactical solution, with the point that after} 24. Bd6 Rg5+ 25. Kh1 Nxd5 26. Qc4 {, Black could simply play} Qc6 {, winning a pawn.}) 24. d6 $1 {Now the position gets rather tricky.} b6 25. Ba3 Kh8 {Played after another long think. I was fed up with all the tricks involving Qc4+ and decided to get out of it once and for all.} ({I had planned} 25... Qc8 {but completely overlooked} 26. d7 $1 Rxd7 27. Nd6 {, winning the exchange. Here, I considered sacrificing the exchange with} Rxd6 28. Rxd6 Qf5 {but didn't like my position after} 29. Qc4+ Kh8 30. Bb2 {when I would be struggling to hold.}) 26. Bb2 Rf8 27. Rd4 Qc8 28. Rxf4 a6 29. Nc3 Qxh3 $2 {Both sides were in severe time trouble at this stage.} (29... Rxd6 {, with the idea} 30. Qxe3 g5 $1 31. Rc4 Qxh3 32. Qf2 (32. Qxg5 $4 Bh6 $1 {[%cal Gh6e3,Gf8g8]}) 32... Rd3 $13 {was stronger.}) 30. Qxe3 Rxd6 31. Ne4 Re6 32. Qf2 $2 {With seconds to go, White was not able to find what would have been a remarkable turn around.} (32. Qd2 $1 {threatens Ng5 and after} Qh5 33. Rc1 {, Black would not be able to handle White's threats down the d and c file. A remarkable let-off!}) 32... Qh5 $2 ({Controlling the c-file with} 32... Rc6 {was best.}) 33. Re1 (33. Rc1 {[%cal Gc1c7] would have been quite tricky to meet in time trouble.}) 33... Nd7 34. Qd2 Bxb2 35. Rxf8+ {and finally, after a thoroughly exhausting fight, the players agreed to a draw.} 1/2-1/2

Board 3 was probably the game of the entire tournament for the Singapore squad and one that truly defined the spirt of the team so far. In sporting terms, this is the kind of game that will bring spectators to their feet. Junior provides you with all the details here: A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "41st Olympiad Open 2014"] [Site "Tromso NOR"] [Date "2014.08.10"] [Round "8.3"] [White "Gong, Qianyun"] [Black "Docx, Stefan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C55"] [WhiteElo "2328"] [BlackElo "2491"] [Annotator "Junior Tay"] [PlyCount "65"] [EventDate "2014.08.02"] [WhiteTeam "Singapore"] [BlackTeam "Belgium"] [WhiteTeamCountry "SIN"] [BlackTeamCountry "BEL"] 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 {Once again, Gong wheels out the Bishop's Opening after giving the British Champion GM David Howell quite a scare with it n the opening and early middlegame phase of their game in Round 2.} Nf6 3. d3 Nc6 4. Nf3 h6 5. c3 d6 6. Nbd2 g6 ({The standard Ruy Lopez / Piano knight tour can also continue without castling after} 6... Be7 7. Nf1 Be6 8. Bb3 Qd7 9. Bc2 d5 10. Qe2 Bg4 11. h3 Bh5 $6 12. Ng3 Bg6 13. Ba4 $1 {when suddenly, the Bg6 finds itself very misplaced.} Bd6 $6 14. exd5 Nxd5 {and White nets a pawn with} 15. Nxe5 Bxe5 16. Bxc6 Qxc6 17. Qxe5+ Kf8 18. O-O {Gaponenko,I (2422)-Bashkite,V (2174)/Tallinn 2008 (1-0, 37)}) 7. h3 Bg7 8. Bb3 d5 (8... Qe7 9. Nf1 Nd8 10. g4 {was agreed drawn in Cherniaev,A (2450)-Arkhipov,S (2520)/Vladivostok 1995. Black can prudently continue in similar manouvring vein with} Ne6 11. Be3 Bd7 12. Qc2 c5 13. Ng3 Bc6) 9. Qe2 O-O ({In a previous game, White also manouvred without castling} 9... Be6 10. Bc2 a6 11. a4 dxe4 12. dxe4 Nh5 13. Nb3 O-O 14. g3 b6 15. Nh4 Nf6 16. a5 b5 17. Nc5 Bc4 18. Qe3 b4 19. Ba4 Bb5 20. Bb3 Ne7 21. Bd2 bxc3 22. Bxc3 {and a careless retreat allowed White to gain a powerful attack. } Nh7 $6 23. Rd1 Qc8 24. f4 $1 $18 exf4 $4 25. gxf4 Re8 26. Rg1 Nf5 27. Rxg6 $1 Nf8 28. Rxg7+ Nxg7 29. Qg3 {1-0 Berchtenbreiter,M (2405)-Borsos,B (2279)/ Schwarzach 2013}) 10. g4 {The strange thing is despite the hyperaggressive kingside buildup, Docx continues to play at blitz speed in the opening.} dxe4 { I don't like this move. In theory, a flank attack is typically met by action in the centre. This move actually 'closes' the centre and renders it static.} ( {I prefer} 10... a5 {, gaining queenside space and Black has a fine game. Some examples are} 11. exd5 (11. a4 Be6) (11. Ba4 Re8) 11... Nxd5 12. Ne4 Be6) 11. dxe4 Nd7 12. Qe3 {It seems strange to move the queen yet again but White has to cover the c5-square. This incidentaly also helps White to play g4-g5.} (12. Nf1 Nc5 13. Bc2 b6 14. b4 Ne6 {and White has to tolerate a knight on f4 or to capture it, allowing Black to release the fianchettoed bishop's range after} 15. Bb3 Nf4 16. Bxf4 exf4 {with a strong position for Black.}) 12... Qe7 13. g5 h5 $6 {This timid move swings the balance towards White. Incredibly, White is still playing a-tempo and has more than 1hr 30 minutes on the clock at this point while Gong has used up more than an hour.} (13... hxg5 14. Nxg5 Na5 15. Bc2 b6 16. Rg1 Ba6 17. b4 Nc4 18. Nxc4 Bxc4 19. Bb3 Bxb3 20. axb3 {and Black's structural superiority gives him the edge.}) 14. Nh4 $1 {All of a sudden, White's threats become very real. Only now does Docx start thinking and he didn't think very hard before playing} Kh7 15. Nf5 $1 {In for a penny...in for a pound. Gong plonks the mare right smack in front of the Black king's pawn cover and it can hardly be captured.} Qe8 (15... gxf5 16. exf5 e4 17. f6 Nxf6 18. gxf6 Qxf6 19. Nxe4 Qe5 20. Bc2 f5 21. Ng5+ Kh8 22. f4 {with the better chances for White.}) 16. Nxg7 {The removal of the dark-squared bishop is a trifle worrisome for Black though the long dark squared diagonal is for the moment closed to the public.} Kxg7 17. Nf1 {As pointed out by FM Ong Chong Ghee, the knight is going to reroute to e2 to prevent Black from planting his own knight on f4.} Nd8 18. Ng3 (18. Qg3 {to prevent ...Ne6 is a good alternative.}) 18... Ne6 19. Ne2 Ndc5 20. Bc2 {So far, Black has reacted well to White's aggressive overtures.} a5 $6 {Too optimistic. Gong's knight did not reroute to e2 for defensive purposes only but to set up} ({With hindsight, it is easy to indicate that Black should perhaps get his king off the dark squares with} 20... Kg8) 21. f4 $1 {Forcing open the long dark squared diagonal. Gong starts yet another wave of attack.} exf4 22. Nxf4 Nxf4 {Before the knight gets to d5...} 23. Qxc5 (23. Qxf4 Bf5 24. Be3 Nxe4 25. Bd4+ Kh7 26. O-O-O {also looks dangerous for Black.}) 23... Ne6 $6 {Finally, Black misses a step and Gong proceeds to home in on the king without remorse.} ({Incredibly, Stockfish 5 showed that White has no good way to get at the Black king after} 23... Nxh3 $1 24. Be3 Bg4 $15 {but who among us would not be alarmed at being so exposed on the dark squares?}) 24. Qe5+ Kg8 25. Be3 b6 26. O-O-O Ba6 27. Qf6 {Here, the spidey sense should start tingling as Gong sets up Bb3xe6 and Bd4 but Docx is probably still reeling from the sudden turn of events.} Rd8 (27... a4 {to prevent Bb3 is mandatory.}) 28. Bb3 $1 $16 Bd3 $4 ({Black MUST get the king out of the b3-bazooka's range with} 28... Kh7 $16 {but one of the symptoms of shell shock is the inability to defend oneself due to the intensity of the bombardment.}) 29. Bd5 $1 $18 {It's all over now as the White wizard shields the dark one from being traded off at d4, thanks to the possibility of Qxg6 once the Ne6 captures on d4.} c6 $4 ({As pointed out by Chong Ghee, Black must cough up the exchange with} 29... Rd6 30. Rxd3 Nc5 31. Qf1 Nxd3+ 32. Qxd3 {and Black is still very lost.}) 30. Bd4 {To quote from Arthur Conan Doyle's The Croxley Master -"It was a magnificent blow, straight, clean, crisp...And it landed where (s)he had meant it to—upon the exact point of that blue-grained chin. Flesh and blood could not stand such a blow in such a place. Neither valour nor hardihood can save the man to whom it comes. The Master fell backwards, flat, prostrate, striking the ground with so simultaneous a clap that it was like a shutter falling from a wall". OK, I'm dramatising it a bit too much. But at this moment Gong delivered the mortal blow, these phrases came to my mind...} Nxd4 ({Or Black can choose to go one rook down after} 30... Kh7 31. Bxe6 Rxd4 32. Qxd4 Be2 33. Bd7 Qe7 34. Rd2) 31. Qxg6+ Kh8 32. Qh6+ Kg8 33. g6 {What a finish!} 1-0

A fantastic result!

After this game, Qianyun's surname officially became a verb. To "Gong" an opponent equates to completely crushing/demolishing/annihilating his defences and reducing them to rubble. The term "gonged" will become quite commonly used for the rest of the tournament....

Unfortunately, Jingyao went down in flames after overlooking a straight forward trap on the kingside. I felt that his position could have been even more comfortable had he played an early ...a5, a typical move in the Philidor.

A 2-2 draw wasn't bad although we certainly had our chances to win it. Our reward was a match-up against the Indonesians, a match that had a lot of significance attached to it and where our norm chances were at stake.....

Sunday, 31 August 2014

41st World Chess Olympiad Part 2 - Rounds 4 and 5

(Apologies for the late post - it has been a hectic week back at work. Hopefully, the game commentaries are instructive enough to worth waiting for...)

Paired with 4 2600+ Grandmasters, the team eventually decided to field our top 4 players. While we certainly did not expect to get anything from this match, I believe all of us were determined to make our illustrious opponents work very hard to beat us. What transpired was a tremendous team effort which nearly brought us one of our best ever result in an Olympiad:

Round 4: Spain 2.5 - Singapore 1.5

Board 1 was a sleepy Ruy Lopez where Zhang Zhong equalised pretty comfortably against Paco Vallejo.

A game that I liked
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.05"] [Round "4.5"] [White "Vallejo Pons Francisco"] [Black "Zhang Zhong"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C84"] [WhiteElo "2698"] [BlackElo "2611"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2qrbk1/5pp1/p1np1n1p/1p2p3/3PP3/1P3NNP/1P3PP1/R1BQR1K1 b - - 0 18"] [PlyCount "46"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] {This position arised after a sleepy looking Ruy Lopez where nothing much was happening in the opening. Here, Zhang Zhong equalised completely with the liberating} 18... d5 $1 {and followed up with a series of highly precise moves: } 19. Nxe5 Nxe5 20. dxe5 Nxe4 21. Bf4 Qh4 $1 22. Qf3 ({Not} 22. Nxe4 $2 Qxf4 23. Nc3 Bc5 {and Black is better.}) 22... Ng5 ({Zhang Zhong was reluctant to play} 22... g5 {because of} 23. Be3 Nxg3 24. fxg3 Qe4 25. Bf2 $1 Qxf3 26. gxf3 {when he felt that White is better here. However, there are many ways to hold this position and} Rac8 27. Bd4 Bc5 28. Bxc5 Rxc5 29. Rxa6 Rc2 {appears to be the most straightforward way.}) 23. Bxg5 Qxg5 24. Nf5 g6 25. Nd6 Bxd6 26. exd6 Red8 ({Zhang Zhong pointed out} 26... Rxe1+ $2 27. Rxe1 Kg7 28. d7 {would have been very dangerous for White.}) 27. Re7 Qf5 28. Qxf5 gxf5 29. d7 {Played with a draw offer.} Kg7 $1 {No draw! However, Paco Vallejo is not a top player for no reason and he steered the game towards a draw pretty comfortably:} 30. Kf1 Ra7 31. Re5 Raxd7 32. Rxf5 d4 33. Rxa6 d3 34. Ra1 Rc7 35. Rxb5 Rc2 36. Rd1 Rxb2 37. Rb4 Rd6 38. Rg4+ Kf6 39. Rg3 Rxb3 40. Re3 h5 41. g3 1/2-1/2
After the game, Zhang Zhong, with tongue in cheek no doubt, claimed that Paco seemed particularly frustrated during the game and he probably regretted his opening choice starting from 1.e4! Nevertheless, the Spanish superstar would go on to score quite brilliantly for the rest of the tournament... On Board 2, I faced one of Spain's most promising young players: A game that I liked
[Event "41st World Chess Olympiad"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.06"] [Round "4"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Ivan Salgado Lopez"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B30"] [WhiteElo "2433"] [BlackElo "2620"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 e6 $5 {This variation of the Rossolimo Sicilian is strategically complex and one of the many lines that I feel uncomfortable playing against. I've had a pretty terrible score against this particular line and after this painful loss, will certainly do some work on it.} 4. O-O ({I've tried} 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. d3 {before and was not able to come to terms with the strategical nuances behind this pawn structure. Perhaps, one day I will be able to!}) (4. c3 {is also a very playable line although Black should equalise after} Nge7 5. d4 cxd4 6. cxd4 d5 7. Nc3 dxe4 8. Nxe4 Nf5 $1) 4... Nge7 5. d4 { A trendy line that Caruana has played recently.} (5. c3 a6 6. Ba4 b5 7. Bc2 d5 {is another serious option although Black is known to do pretty well here too.} ) 5... cxd4 6. Nxd4 Qb6 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. Bd3 Ng6 9. c4 Be7 {After a few typical opening moves, we have arrived at some sort of a tabiya in this particular variation. White has erected a Macrozy type of structure and his main strategical plan is to play against the offside g6-knight. If he manages to play f2-f4, g2-g3 and h2-h4 early and restrain the g6 knight from activity, he is generally known to be doing very well. Black's main plan is not rocket science, i.e. to play on the dark squares c5, and d4. The d4 square especially is an ideal square for the black knight and Black generally tries to organise the manoeuvre ...c5-c6 and ...Ng6-e5-c6 when he has serious chances of gaining the initiative. Having only looked at this line in the morning, I did not fully appreciate these strategical objectives and allowed Black to achieve his optimal set-up. This is a clear case of unprofessionalism - a serious player would have only played a line that he has studied for at least several hours before an important tournament game and not something that was only looked at for the first time just before the game. Against a 2600+ GM, this is a cardinal sin and although I eventually managed to equalise, the large amount of time I used during the opening phase would lead to my downfall.} 10. Nc3 O-O 11. Qc2 $6 {This looks like a normal move but in fact I have forgotten my preparation.} ({With the above brief discussion in mind,} 11. Rb1 $1 {, with the idea of an early b4 comes to mind. Now,} c5 ({or} 11... Qc7 12. Be3 Rd8 ( 12... Ne5 13. Be2 c5 14. f4 Nc6 15. e5 {followed by Ne4 is also good for White. }) 13. g3 $1 d6 14. f4 c5 15. h4 {and White has managed to stop Black from carrying out his main plan. The engines claim equality here but I reckon most people will find White's position the easier one.}) 12. f4 $1 {sees White achieving one of his aims.}) 11... Qc7 12. Re1 $6 {A demonstration of White's lack of understanding. The rook is better placed on f1 which supports f2-f4.} ( 12. f4 e5 13. f5 Nf4 14. Be3 {is maybe very slightly better for White.}) 12... a6 13. Be3 $6 {Again, White was oblivious to what Black was trying to achieve.} (13. e5 $1 {with the idea} Nxe5 14. Bxh7+ Kh8 15. Re3 $18 {would have cut across Black's plan quite effectively.}) ({Instead, after} 13. e5 $1 d6 {is best, when the position after} 14. exd6 Bxd6 15. g3 f5 16. Bf1 {is dynamically equal.}) 13... c5 14. g3 $2 {This helps Black to add even more punch to his next move.} Ne5 $1 15. Be2 Bb7 16. Rad1 Rad8 {Black knew that the threat was always going to be stronger than the execution and there was no immediate need to play ...Nc6 as yet. With his last 2 moves, he simply improved his previously undeveloped pieces and asked White what his next move was going to be. At this stage, it was clear to me that I stood worse, had much less time and was struggling for a move. After a long think, I came up with the paradoxical idea.} 17. Kg2 $5 {An "in-your-face" move! I'm not afraid to put my king opposite a menacing bishop down the long diagonal!} ({The point is that after} 17. f4 Nc6 18. Bf3 Nd4 19. Bxd4 cxd4 {, White is forced to play} 20. Ne2 {in view of the potential pin down the a7-g1 diagonal. I was afraid of} Bb4 21. Rf1 d5 22. exd5 Bxd5 {but White can still resist with} 23. Bxd5 exd5 24. Nxd4 dxc4 25. Nf3 {when he was only very slightly worse.}) 17... Nc6 (17... f5 18. f4 Ng4 19. Bxg4 fxg4 20. Qe2 {is fine for White.}) 18. f4 d6 19. Bf3 Nd4 $2 {This simplification helped White in many ways. After the game, Ivan felt that this made a lot of sense strategically but in fact, there was no real need to rush.} ({After the game, we looked at} 19... Bf6 20. Ne2 {and we both felt White is doing ok here but my assistant pointed out} Nb4 21. Qb1 d5 $1 { with good chances of extending Black's edge.}) 20. Bxd4 cxd4 21. Rxd4 Bf6 22. Rd3 Qxc4 23. Qd2 Be7 24. Rc1 $1 {And suddenly just like that, White is back in the game! Black may have obtained the bishop pair but White had two well placed rooks and the Black queen is vulnerable to attacks. After the game, Ivan told me that he felt this was a natural continuation and that logically, Black should be slightly better here. What we both mis evaluated was the activity that White could attain with accurate play.} Qb4 25. a3 (25. Rd4 Qa5 26. b4 Qb6 27. a4 {was another reasonable way to proceed but I wanted to keep my queenside more solid.}) 25... Qb6 26. Na4 Qb5 27. Rc7 $1 {You can never argue with a rook on the 7th! Here, I felt I was already out of danger and became incredibly optimistic.} Rfe8 28. Rd4 Ba8 29. Rb4 $2 {Carrying out a deeply flawed tactical operation that would eventually fail because of a miscalculation. Poor stuff.} (29. Qc2 $5 {keeping control of the c-file would have kept things very unclear.}) 29... Qa5 30. Qc3 {Setting up a devilish trap. ..or so I thought.} d5 $3 {And Black walks straight into it! In time trouble, I quickly lashed out with} 31. Rxe7 $2 (31. Rd4 {was a better defence but Black would have been clearly better after} Qxc3 32. bxc3 Bd6 $1 33. Ra7 dxe4 34. Bxe4 e5 $1) 31... Rxe7 32. Rb8 dxe4 $3 {Refuting the entire tactical set-up. Of course, I have overlooked that ...exf3 was check and hence White loses too much material for the queen. Here, there was nothing much to do but to play on aimlessly and waiting to resign...} 33. Qxa5 exf3+ 34. Kf2 Rxb8 35. Nb6 Reb7 36. Nc4 Rb5 37. Qxa6 Bd5 38. Qa4 Rb3 39. h3 h5 40. g4 h4 0-1
On board 3, Qianyun had to defend the black pieces against Miguel Illescas who is something like a legend in Spain, being one of the top 20 players in the world a couple of decades ago. Qianyun, who is pretty aggressive, did not seem the least intimidated and took her illustrious opponent to an outright battle.

The following game is annotated by Qianyun, with light comments from me: A game that I liked
[Event "41st Olympiad Tromso 2014 Open"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.05"] [Round "4"] [White "Illescas Cordoba, Miguel"] [Black "Gong Qianyun"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E52"] [WhiteElo "2618"] [BlackElo "2328"] [Annotator "Qianyun, Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "73"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 b6 5. e3 {An interesting move order, transposing to the Rubenstein variation but not allowing some of Black's options such as the Karpov variation or the Hubner variation. Still, the Fianchetto variation is a very respectable system and its aggressive nature is ideally suited to Qianyun's style.} Bb7 6. Bd3 O-O 7. O-O d5 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Qc2 (9. Ne2) ({and} 9. Qe2 {are possible alternatives.}) 9... Nbd7 {Wei Ming: In this line of the Rubenstein variation, White typically plays for a knight on e5, followed by f2-f4, cementing his control over the e5 square. As such, when I used to play the Nimzo, I've always prefer to delay the development of my queen's knight, with the idea of playing for ...c5 and ...Nc6, pressuring the d4 pawn and hence deterring the above plan. Of course, Qianyun's move is very playable and has been played many times.} ({Qianyun gives} 9... c5 $5 10. b3 ({Wei Ming:} 10. a3 {, with the idea} Bxc3 11. bxc3 c4 12. Be2 Ne4 13. a4 Re8 {with equality is another possible line.}) 10... Nbd7 11. Bd2 Rc8 12. a3 Bxc3 13. Bxc3 Ne4 $11) 10. a3 Bxc3 {Ceding the bishop pair but gaining light square activity in return.} 11. bxc3 c5 12. Nd2 Re8 13. Rd1 $5 {An extremely deep and mysterious rook move.} (13. a4 c4 14. Be2 Bc6 15. Ba3 Nf8 16. Bb4 Qc7 17. a5 b5 $11) 13... Rc8 14. Qb1 cxd4 {Qianyun gave this a dubious mark but I think Black is fine here anyhow.} (14... Bc6 15. a4 Qc7 16. Bb2 c4 17. Bc2 Nf8 18. Ba3 Ng6 $11) 15. cxd4 Ne4 16. Bb2 $6 ({After} 16. Nxe4 dxe4 17. Bb5 {, I think Black is doing fine after} a6 18. Be2 Re6 $1 {, followed by ...Rg6, ... Nf6 and ...Nd5.}) 16... Qh4 $5 {Displaying aggressive intentions on the queenside...} (16... Ndf6 $11) 17. Nxe4 dxe4 18. Bb5 Nf6 $1 {Here, the FB chat group literally "exploded" with delight at Qianyun's uncompromising play. 2600 GM? No problem, I try to hack you to bits anyway.} 19. h3 $1 {Not surprisingly, White dodged the bullet.} ({Qianyun demonstrated the following lines:} 19. Bxe8 $2 Ng4 20. Bxf7+ (20. h3 Qxf2+ 21. Kh1 Nxe3 (21... Rc2 $2 22. Bxf7+ $1 (22. Rg1 $4 Qg3 23. hxg4 Qh4#) 22... Kf8 23. Qxc2 Qxc2 24. hxg4 Kxf7 25. Rac1 $11) 22. Rg1 Rxe8 23. Qe1 Qxe1 24. Raxe1 Nc4 $17 {with great compensation.}) 20... Kxf7 21. h3 Qxf2+ 22. Kh1 Nxe3 23. Rg1 Rc2 24. Bc1 Nf5 25. Qb3+ Kf6 26. Qb5 e3 27. Qe5+ Kg5 28. d5 Qf4 $1 29. Qxf4+ Kxf4 30. Rb1 Bxd5 $17) 19... Red8 20. d5 $6 { A sacrifice to open up the dark square bishop - an understandable decision.} ( 20. Rc1 Nd5 21. Be2 f5 22. a4 Qg5 23. Ra3 Bc6 $11) 20... Nxd5 21. Rc1 $6 Nc7 $1 $15 ({During the game, I was wondering about the following:} 21... Nxe3 $6 22. Rxc8 (22. fxe3 $1 Rd2 23. Bf1 {is even stronger.}) 22... Bxc8 23. fxe3 Rd2 24. Bf1 {and whether Black had enough compensation. Qianyun showed the following:} Bxh3 (24... Qf2+ 25. Kh1 Rxb2 26. Qxe4 $16) 25. Qe1 $1 (25. Qc1 Qf2+ 26. Kh2 Qxe3 27. Bc3 Qf4+ 28. Kg1 (28. Kxh3 $4 g5 $1 29. Qe1 (29. g3 Qf5+ 30. g4 Qf3#) 29... Rd6 30. Bg7 g4+ 31. Kh4 Rg6 $19) 28... Qe3+ 29. Kh1 Bxg2+ 30. Bxg2 Qh6+ $11) 25... Qxe1 26. Rxe1 Rxb2 27. gxh3 Rb3 28. Bc4 Rc3 $11 {and a likely draw in view of the reduced material.}) 22. Be5 $6 (22. Be2 Rd2 23. Rc2 Qd8 24. Be5 Ne6 $15) 22... Nxb5 (22... Rd2 $142 $1 23. g3 (23. Bg3 Qf6 24. a4 a5 25. Ra2 Rxa2 26. Qxa2 Nxb5 27. Rxc8+ Bxc8 28. axb5 $15) 23... Qe7 24. Bc3 Rdd8 $15) 23. Qxb5 Qe7 {the rest of the game petered out into a straight forward opposite colored bishop drawn ending:} 24. Rxc8 Rxc8 25. Rd1 Rd8 26. Rxd8+ Qxd8 27. a4 f6 28. Bc7 Qa8 29. Bd6 h6 30. Qd7 Qc8 31. Qe7 Bc6 (31... a6 32. Bc7 b5 33. axb5 axb5 34. Bd6 Bd5 $15) 32. Qxa7 $11 Qd7 33. Qb8+ Kh7 34. Bc7 Bxa4 35. Qxb6 Qc6 36. Qa7 Bb5 37. Kh2 1/2-1/2
A fantastic result for Qianyun!

On Board 4, 14 yr-old Tin faced his strongest opponent to date, 2603 rated Vazquez Igarza Renier. The debutant was certainly not intimidated by the occasion and came very close to a win:

A game that I liked
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.05"] [Round "4.8"] [White "Tin Jingyao"] [Black "Vazquez Igarza Renier"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E21"] [WhiteElo "2251"] [BlackElo "2603"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "97"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Qc2 (5. Bg5 {is White's main alternative here.}) (5. e3 {amusingly transposes to Illescas - Gong.}) 5... Bb7 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. Qxc3 d6 {This should probably transpose to the Classical Nimzo lines after 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 where White has lost the option of playing the critical lines with Ne2 and f2-f3.} ({Here,} 7... Ne4 8. Qc2 O-O 9. e3 ({or} 9. g3 f5 10. Bg2 c5 $5 11. O-O Nc6) 9... d6 10. Bd3 f5 11. b4 Nd7 12. Bb2 Qe8 13. O-O Qh5 {is a more aggressive treatment which is known to be fine for Black.}) 8. g3 Nbd7 9. Bg2 O-O 10. O-O {White has next to no advantage here but Jingyao has an extremely solid position with no weaknesses. The bishop pair is a nice acquisition and may prove to be very useful.} Be4 11. b4 Qc8 $5 {Interesting concept by Black.} 12. Bb2 Qb7 13. Rfe1 c6 (13... a5 14. b5 c6 $5 {seems like a good way to increase the tension on the queenside.}) 14. Bf1 $1 {This manoeuvre with Rf1-e1, Bg2-f1 and Nf3-d2 is extremely typical in the Queen's Indian. White must not exchange the light square bishop given that the bishop pair is his only trump card. At the same time, White preps the space gaining e2-e4.} d5 15. Nd2 Bg6 16. Bg2 Rac8 17. e4 $1 $14 {With direct, logical and impressively mature play, White has gotten a small but stable opening edge.} dxe4 18. Nxe4 Bxe4 19. Bxe4 b5 (19... Nxe4 20. Rxe4 Rfd8 (20... Nf6 21. d5 $1 { is crushing.}) 21. Rg4 {looks dangerous for Black.}) 20. Bg2 bxc4 21. Qxc4 Nd5 {Black may have gotten a nice knight on the d5 outpost but White was definitely for choice at this juncture.} 22. Qc2 Rfd8 23. Rac1 h6 24. Re2 Qb5 25. Bf1 Qb6 26. Qa4 $1 {Preparing Re2-c2 followed by perhaps, Bd3.} Qb5 27. Qb3 Qb7 28. Qd3 $1 {No repeating of moves! Here, the FB group are all behind the young debutant.} Ra8 {Black had been reduced to utter passivity.} (28... Qb5 $2 {is pointless now due to} 29. Rec2 $1) 29. Rec2 a5 30. bxa5 Rxa5 31. Qd2 $1 { Winning a pawn! True, the extra pawn proved extremely hard to convert but at least the progress made was extremely tangible.} Raa8 32. Rxc6 N7b6 33. Qc2 $2 {After playing flawlessly the entire game, Jingyao made a critical inaccuracy. Fortunately, his opponent did not pounce.} (33. R1c2 $1 {would have maintained White's edge.}) 33... Na4 34. Ba1 Nab6 (34... Qe7 $1 {would have won the a3 pawn immediately. For example,} 35. Qd3 Nab6 36. Bb2 Na4 $1 $11) 35. Qb3 Qa7 36. Rb1 $2 {This loses the a-pawn once and for all.} (36. Bb2 $1 Rdb8 37. Qc2 { , with the idea} Na4 $6 38. Ra6 $1 Qd7 39. Rb1 {would have kept the pawn although admittedly, this line is easier to find with my engine on!}) 36... Rdb8 37. Rc5 Qxa3 38. Qxa3 Rxa3 39. Rcb5 Rc8 {Suddenly, with obvious play against the isolated d4 pawn, Black became the one pressing for the win!} 40. Bb2 Ra2 41. Rc1 Rxc1 42. Bxc1 Ra1 43. Rc5 Ra4 44. Be3 g5 45. h4 gxh4 46. gxh4 Kg7 (46... Nxe3 47. fxe3 Nd5 48. Kf2 Ra2+ 49. Be2 Kg7 {may be unpleasant for White but the ending should still be drawn with precise play.}) 47. Bg2 Nxe3 48. fxe3 Nc4 49. Bc6 1/2-1/2
This was a creditable and yet slightly disappointing result. Despite the rating difference, all the games were very evenly matched and I kicked myself for losing the game and causing the team to lose after managing to overcome a terribly difficult opening.

Still, there's nothing much to do but to get on with it and in Round 5, we were matched up against the Domenican Republic, a relatively unknown opponent to us. We felt fairly confident and the decision was to field young Qing Aun who has so far scored 2/2. Qianyun was given the day off.

Round 5 - Singapore 2 Dominican Republic 2

On Board 1, Zhang Zhong was surprised by his opponent's choice of opening. He had never played the Alekhine defence before and after a few minutes though, Zhang decided on the even more surprising 2.d3! which utterly stumped his opponent. I felt that this was an incredibly smart choice and in some ways, Zhang had not only counter-surprised his opponent but also psychologically destroyed him. The game itself was a bit of a white-wash:
A game that I liked
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.06"] [Round "5.36"] [White "Zhang Zhong"] [Black "Munoz Santana Jose Lisandro"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B02"] [WhiteElo "2611"] [BlackElo "2438"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. e4 Nf6 {The one opening that Zhang had not prepped for. Not to worry, he had a counter surprise in mind:} 2. d3 $1 {I would have killed to see Zhang's opponent's expression after this move but he had wisely dorned a pair of shades throughout the entire game. Here, Black went into a deep think...} c5 { This transposes to the Big Clamp of the Sicilian. This is not the most principled approach as Black should surely have tried to force equality here.} (2... e5 {was the natural choice, with a reversed Philidor type of position. Surprisingly, Jingyao would come to face a similar position in the tournament.. .}) 3. f4 Nc6 4. Nf3 g6 5. g3 Bg7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O d6 8. h3 c4 $6 {A clear positional error. After this, White was free to play both on the kingside and in the centre. It was vital to retain some form of control over the d4 square.} 9. Nc3 cxd3 10. cxd3 Qb6+ 11. Kh2 e5 $6 {A risky move.} (11... Bd7 12. d4 {may still be slightly better for White though but at least Black is not subjected to an attack yet.}) 12. f5 $1 d5 $2 (12... gxf5 13. Nh4 $1 f4 14. gxf4 {looks terribly scary but at least Black is still in the game.}) 13. fxg6 hxg6 14. exd5 Nb4 15. Nxe5 {Just like that, White won a pawn and had a huge time advantage to boot. The rest of the game would see Zhang Zhong capture piece after piece before forcing his opponent to resign.} Nh5 16. d4 $1 Bf5 $2 17. Rxf5 gxf5 18. Qxh5 Qxd4 19. Nf3 Qf6 20. Nh4 Nc2 21. Bg5 Qe5 22. Bf4 Qf6 23. Nxf5 $1 Rfe8 (23... Nxa1 24. Ne4 Qd8 25. Ng5 $1) 24. Rf1 Re1 25. d6 Rxf1 26. Bxf1 Ne1 27. Nxg7 Kxg7 28. Qe2 Qe6 29. Qxe6 fxe6 30. Be2 1-0
Board 2 was a French Advance variation with 5...Nh6!? where I played over ambitiously and really should have been punished for my extravagant play:

A game that I liked
[Event "41st World Chess Olympiad"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.07"] [Round "5"] [White "Puntier Andalujar William"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C02"] [WhiteElo "2333"] [BlackElo "2433"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "52"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Nh6 {This is more or less my pet line against the Advance but I've gotten so many dodgy positions from this that maybe a re-think in terms of opening choice is due!} 6. Bd3 f6 $6 {A dubious but more combative choice. Naturally, I wanted badly to play for a win. } ({I was perfectly aware that} 6... Nf5 {was my prep but didn't like my winning chances after} 7. Bxf5 exf5 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. O-O {when both sides can be happy with his position.}) 7. O-O Nf7 8. Re1 (8. exf6 Qxf6 9. Be3 c4 10. Be2 Rb8 {was the kind of position I was trying to achieve.}) 8... c4 {This was a bit of a lazy move as I wanted to stop White from ever playing c3-c4 himself once and for all.} ({I also considered} 8... fxe5 9. Nxe5 Nfxe5 10. dxe5 g6 11. Nd2 Bg7 12. f4 O-O 13. Nf3 {which also seems better for White.}) 9. Bf1 $2 {A rather strange decision. Perhaps, White was afraid that I would block the b1-h7 diagonal with ...f5?} (9. Bc2 $1 fxe5 10. Nxe5 Ncxe5 11. dxe5 Bc5 12. Be3 Bxe3 13. Rxe3 O-O 14. Nd2 $14) 9... fxe5 10. dxe5 g5 $2 {This was terribly over-ambitious. In many lines of the 3...Be7 Tarrasch, Black also tries to win a pawn by similar wins i.e. displacing the f3 knight by ...g5-g4 but here, Black's position is a lot more unstable in comparison. I went through the following lines during the game:} (10... Bc5 11. b3 cxb3 12. axb3 O-O 13. Bf4 $14) (10... b5 11. a4 b4 12. b3 $13) (10... g6 11. b3 cxb3 12. axb3 Bg7 13. Bb5 $1 O-O 14. Bxc6 bxc6 15. Ba3 Re8 16. Bc5 $14) (10... a6 $1 11. b3 b5 12. a4 Bd7 {may be Black's best option.}) 11. b3 cxb3 12. Nd4 $5 {This completely took me by surprise.} ({White would have obtained a terrifying initiative after the natural} 12. axb3 Bg7 13. Ba3 g4 14. Nd4 Nfxe5 15. Ra2 $1 Kf7 16. Nb5 $40) 12... Bg7 13. Qh5 Ncxe5 ({Not} 13... O-O $4 14. Bd3 $1) 14. Bb5+ ({Here, I spent a lot of thinking about the possible ramifications after} 14. Ba3 b2 $1 15. Bb5+ $1 Bd7 16. Nxe6 {which looked terribly scary. Houdini promptly pointed out} Qf6 $1 17. Nxg7+ Kd8 $3 18. Bxb2 Bg4 $1 19. Rxe5 $1 Nxe5 20. Ne6+ $3 Bxe6 21. Qe2 {and Black is slightly better. A quite incredible variation.}) 14... Kf8 15. axb3 {Here, I was rather optimistic with my position. My plan was to quickly consolidate with ...Qf6, ...a6, and ...Bd7 after which I would have developed most of my pieces and still have an extra pawn! Sounds pretty good? The problem is that White had a lot of activity and a few pawn breaks at his disposal such as f2-f4 and c3-c4 which gave him more than sufficient play for the pawn. In fact, Black had to be very careful to avoid having his centre collapsing like a house of cards.} Qf6 16. Nd2 Ng6 $2 {I was trying to put a knight on f4 and achieve ...e6-e5 but again this was terribly over ambitious.} ({After} 16... Kg8 17. Bb2 a6 {, it is not clear how White can proceed with the attack. Perhaps, he should go} 18. Qe2 h5 19. c4 {with a big fight in the offering. Given the choice, I would certainly prefer White.}) 17. g3 $2 {After his previous aggression, this timid move took me by surprise.} (17. N2f3 $1 { is very strong and after} g4 (17... e5 18. Nxg5 {is good for White.}) ({I was actually planning} 17... Nf4 $4 {but this loses to} 18. Bxf4 gxf4 19. Qxd5 $1) 18. Qxg4 e5 19. Bd7 $1 Bxd7 20. Qxd7 exd4 21. Rxa7 $3 {would have been winning for White.}) 17... e5 18. N2f3 $2 {In such a chaotic position, it is very easy for either side to go wrong.} (18. Nc2 $1 Kg8 19. Ne3 Ne7 $13 {with compensation was a lot better.}) 18... h6 {It felt very good to be able to defend the loose g5 pawn!} 19. c4 $2 {Initiating more complications. However, White had missed his boat and Black was able to repel White's attempts to play for the initiative.} (19. Ra5 $5 {is a creative idea proposed by the machine and indeed, after the retreat of the b5 bishop, it is not easy for Black to defend the d5 pawn.}) 19... Kg8 20. Nc2 d4 {This optically looked counter intuitive, giving away all the light squares like that but if Black manages to get in Bf5 and e5-e4, he will be doing very well.} (20... e4 21. Bb2 Qxb2 22. Qxg6 Qf6 23. Qxf6 Bxf6 24. Nfd4 Nd6 $15) (20... g4 $1 {may be Black's best option, with the idea} 21. Nd2 Ng5 $1 22. cxd5 Qf5 $1) 21. Nb4 (21. Nd2 Bf5 22. Nb4 (22. Ne4 Bxe4 23. Rxe4 Nd6) 22... Nd6 23. Nd5 Qf7) 21... Nd6 $4 {Both players proved themselves unable to handle the random nature of this position in severe time trouble.} (21... g4 $1 22. Nd5 Qf5 23. Qxf5 Bxf5 24. Nd2 a6 { would have been excellent for Black.}) 22. Nd5 Qf7 23. Nb6 $1 {Obviously, I completely overlooked this.} ({I also overlooked} 23. Qxg6 Qxg6 24. Ne7+ Kh7 25. Nxg6 Kxg6 26. Nxe5+ Bxe5 27. Rxe5 Nxb5 28. Rxb5 Rd8 {with a likely draw.}) 23... Rb8 24. Nxc8 Rxc8 25. Qg4 $2 {Missing his one chance to seize the bull by the horns.} (25. Bd7 $3 {with idea} Rd8 26. Bg4 {is terribly strong. White would have taken control of all the important light squares and would have seized the advantage. Still, this line wasn't easy to see in severe time trouble.}) 25... Rf8 26. Kg2 $4 {My opponent finally made the last mistake and collapsed with seconds remaining.} (26. Ba3 {was best but Black still has the edge after} h5 27. Qh3 (27. Qxg5 Qxf3 28. Qxg6 Qxf2+ 29. Kh1 Rh6 30. Qd3 Rf3 $19) 27... g4 28. Qf1 Nxb5 29. Ng5 Qf5 30. Bxf8 Bxf8 31. cxb5 Qxg5) 26... h5 0-1
Yet another nerve wrecking game and by now, I was starting to feel quite concerned with my time trouble woes. I am generally a slow thinker but 3 time scrambles in 3 games certainly wasn't what I was planning before the tournament.

On Board 3, Jingyao took the White pieces and had to face the Benko gambit, an opening that he should know pretty well given that he spent a few years playing it himself. However, I felt that his understanding was rather superficial and it cost him dearly here:

A game that I liked
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.06"] [Round "5.34"] [White "Tin Jingyao"] [Black "Abreu Jean Carlos Paul"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A58"] [WhiteElo "2251"] [BlackElo "2286"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2q1rk1/3nppbp/b2p2p1/2pP4/2n5/2N2NP1/PPQ1PPBP/1RBR2K1 w - - 0 14"] [PlyCount "6"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] {We have arrived at a theoretical position of the Fianchetto variation of the Benko gambit. Here, Jingyao played the positionally suspect} 14. b3 $2 {and soon found himself in deep trouble.} ({On the Facebook chat, Junior Tay pointed out that the correct move is the strategically sound} 14. Bh3 $1 {, preventing the Black queen from heading to the a5 square. After} Nde5 {,} 15. Ne1 $1 {, White would have maintained control of the position and is primed to knock the e5 knight back with f2-f4.}) 14... Qa5 $1 15. bxc4 Qxc3 16. Qxc3 Bxc3 {Black had obtained a dream Benko position basically and like what Leslie said, the position simply plays itself. Jingyao wasn't able to cope with the pressure and went down in flames.} 0-1
On the last board, Qing Aun obtained a reasonable position from the English opening but after 15...gf?! (15...Bxf5 or 15..Rxf5 was better), his structure became extremely vulnerable. His opponent cleverly applied pressure on the entire board and broke through with a nice queen sacrifice:

A game that I liked
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.06"] [Round "5.33"] [White "Michelen Rodriguez Victor Isa"] [Black "Lee Qing Aun"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A36"] [WhiteElo "2239"] [BlackElo "1893"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r1r1k1/1p3qb1/p2pb2p/P3pp2/2Pp1P2/BP1P2P1/6BP/1R2QRK1 w - - 0 23"] [PlyCount "7"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] {Here, White sacrificed his queen with} 23. Bxd6 exf4 24. Bxf4 $1 Bxc4 25. bxc4 Rxe1 26. Rfxe1 {and with threats down the b and e files and 2 raking bishops plus an extremely weak king, Black soon went down in flames.} 1-0
While the draw was slightly disappointing, it certainly wasn't the end of the world and there was still a lot of chess to be played. The next day was a rest day and the team was hyped up to know that we were paired against another all GM team, Bangladesh, in round 6.