Saturday, 4 January 2014

27th SEA Games - the story (Part 2)

My next event was the 7 rounds rapid event where there are formidable opposition in the form of Vietnam's GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son and IM Nguyen Duc Hoa, Indonesia's GM Megaranto Susanto & IM Farid Firman Syah and GMs Oliver Barbosa and John Paul Gomez from the Philippines. Again, I didn't fancy my chances very well but I still had reasonable hope of a medal finish. I finished 9th out of 15 players but again, the story is very different as you shall soon see....

After a smooth win in the first round, I was paired against Farid with the Black pieces. After losing to him in the blitz event, I was perfectly aware of the danger that he posed. The game was an exciting one where I missed a golden opportunity to score an important win.... A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "2"] [White "Farid Firman Syah"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A40"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "76"] 1. d4 Nc6 $5 {I have decided to utilise my primary school repertoire for the SEA Games, hoping that my experience with this line would be useful against my younger and faster opponents. In fact, I managed to play this 3 times during the Rapid event and arguably could have scored 3/3 as you shall soon see....} 2. d5 Ne5 3. Nf3 {A small surprise. I've played countless games with 1...Nc6 and this was the first time I ever had to face this move.} Nxf3+ 4. gxf3 e5 5. e4 Bc5 6. f4 ({I was expecting} 6. Rg1 {which is certainly more logical as it makes use of the half open g-file immediately. I intended} Qh4 7. Qe2 Ne7 { with unclear play.}) 6... Qh4 {Hoping for a swift end to the game but unfortunately, my opponent defended my not-so-obvious threat easily....} 7. Qf3 Nf6 8. Nc3 Ng4 9. Nd1 exf4 10. Bxf4 d6 {I have achieved an ideal position with decent chances of playing for an attack plus a time advantage to boot.} 11. Bb5+ c6 $1 ({The computer suggests} 11... Kf8 {but I was always going to sacrifice a pawn for the sake of development.}) 12. dxc6 O-O 13. Rg1 f5 $5 { Played to open lines at all cost.} (13... bxc6 14. Bxc6 Rb8 {was another idea.} ) 14. exf5 Bxf5 15. cxb7 Rab8 16. Kd2 Nxh2 $1 17. Qg3 Qxg3 18. Rxg3 Rxb7 19. Bc6 $2 {A serious blunder which presented me with a golden opportunity.} ({I was expecting} 19. Bc4+ Kh8 20. Be3 Rc7 {with a tangible endgame edge. My passed h-pawn will likely be able to create some problems in the foreseeable future.}) 19... Nf1+ $2 ({The unexpected} 19... Rb4 $1 {with the dual threats of ...Nf1 and ...Rxf4 wins by force.} 20. Bd5+ Kh8) 20. Ke1 Nxg3 21. Bxb7 Be4 $1 {An important move that maintains the advantage.} 22. fxg3 Bxb7 23. Nc3 { During the game, I assessed the position as slightly better for Black in view of the bishop pair but actually, Black had a significant advantage at this juncture. The key factor is Black's kingside majority and White's slightly awkward pieces which means that Black could continue to generate threats despite the reduced material.} g5 $2 {A complete misassessment of the position and allowing White to alleviate the pressure.} ({Instead,} 23... h5 $1 {is the move, when the idea of simply pushing the h-pawn down is extremely difficult to meet. For example,} 24. Na4 h4 25. Nxc5 dxc5 26. Bd6 h3 27. g4 Rf6 {with excellent winning chances.}) 24. Bxg5 Rf2 25. Rd1 Rxc2 26. Rd2 {White has consolidated and the game soon petered out to a draw.} Rc1+ 27. Rd1 Rc2 28. Rd2 Rc1+ 29. Ke2 Rg1 30. Bf4 Kf7 31. a3 d5 32. b4 Bb6 33. Na4 Rg2+ 34. Ke1 Rg1+ 35. Ke2 Rg2+ 36. Kd3 Rxd2+ 37. Kxd2 Ke6 38. Nxb6 axb6 1/2-1/2

An unfortunate miss but there are still plenty of games to go. Somehow, I was paired, again with the Black pieces with Megaranto. A tough manoeuvring game ensued where neither side appears to be doing much and the game eventually finished in a draw in an equal queen ending.
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "3"] [White "Megaranto Susanto"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D02"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "48"] 1. d4 Nc6 {A second 1...Nc6 in a row!} 2. Nf3 d5 3. Bf4 Bg4 4. e3 e6 5. Be2 Nf6 6. O-O Bd6 7. Nbd2 O-O 8. Bg5 Be7 9. c4 Ne4 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. cxd5 exd5 12. h3 Bh5 {White had played tamely and it was clear that I had gotten a comfortable position from the opening. In addition, I had a significant time advantage on the clock as I didn't have much to think about in the opening moves.} 13. Rc1 Rfd8 14. Nxe4 dxe4 15. Nd2 Bxe2 16. Qxe2 Nb4 $1 17. Qc4 (17. Rc5 Nd3 $1 (17... Nd5 18. Qg4 {forces Black to make a concession with} b6 19. Rc6 Re8) 18. Rc3 Nb4 19. Qg4 Re8 {seems fine for Black}) 17... Nd5 18. Qb3 c6 19. Nc4 Kh8 20. Na5 Rab8 21. a3 h6 22. Nc4 Qe6 23. Ne5 f6 24. Nc4 Rd7 {After here, the game seemed to go on for ages with both sides manoeuvring their rooks everywhere. Eventually, all the pieces were traded off and the game was drawn.} 1/2-1/2

In round 4, I took the white pieces against Malaysian youngster, Wong Jianwen. He in fact, equalised pretty comfortably after I misplayed the opening early in the game. However, one critical error (14...Qc6?) led to his downfall and there was no way back:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "4"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Wong Jianwen"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B01"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "73"] 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nf3 $5 {As I was facing a Malaysian, I thought it would be polite to follow the repertoire of one of the best Malaysian players of all time, IM Mas Hafizul!} Nc6 4. d4 ({Almost immediately, I regretted not playing} 4. Nc3 Qa5 5. Bb5 {which I believe is the mainline here.}) 4... e5 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 Bxc3 7. Bxc3 e4 8. Ne5 Nxe5 9. dxe5 Ne7 10. Qh5 Bf5 (10... Be6 { was probably more accurate. My idea here was to play} 11. Qg5 {but after} h6 12. Qxg7 O-O-O {, Black has enormous compensation and is having all the fun.}) 11. Rd1 Qe6 ({I've intended} 11... Qxa2 12. Qg5 {but} h6 $1 13. Qxg7 Rg8 14. Qf6 Rg6 15. Qh8+ Rg8 16. Qxh6 Bg4 $1 {is problematic for White.}) 12. Qg5 O-O 13. b3 h6 14. Qg3 Qc6 $2 {Virtually the decisive error.} ({Black would have been completely fine after a normal move like} 14... Rad8) 15. e6 Bg6 16. exf7+ Kh7 17. Bc4 Nf5 18. Qe5 e3 19. O-O e2 20. Bxe2 Rxf7 21. Bc4 (21. Bb5 $1 Qb6 22. Rd7 Rxd7 23. Bxd7 {would have forced immediate resignation.}) 21... Re7 22. Qd5 Qxd5 23. Rxd5 Nd6 24. Bb4 Bxc2 25. Bxd6 cxd6 26. Rxd6 Bg6 27. h4 {This is a technically winning position. White's main ideas is to put his kingside pawns on light squares and further restricting the Black King, swapping rooks before making inroads with his king.} b6 28. Rfd1 Rf8 29. f3 Rf4 30. R1d4 Rxd4 31. Rxd4 Re1+ 32. Kf2 Ra1 {It is normal to seek activity with your rook in endgames but in this situation, it was better to keep the rook on a defensive stance.} 33. a4 Ra2+ 34. Kg3 {Now the threat is simply Rd7. The Black rook should have been on e7 to guard against this.} Rb2 35. Rd8 h5 36. Bg8+ Kh6 $2 37. Rd6 {and in view of the unstoppable threat of Bf7, Black resigns here.} 1-0

We then break for lunch before resuming the tournament at 4pm in the afternoon. As luck would have it, I was "lucky" enough to be paired with the first seed with the Black pieces. This was an extremely unfavourable pairing as I was secretly hoping to play Truong Son only in the last round where perhaps a peace agreement may be a good deal for both sides. Nevertheless, I went to Myanmar to play chess and was quietly excited at the challenge of facing the Vietnamese superstar.

I decided to put 1...Nc6 aside and essayed the Grunfeld this time, an opening that is slowly but surely becoming one of my favourite openings of all time. A theoretical position soon appeared on the board and while I completely forgot the theory in the Prins variation, it seems that my esteemed opponent wasn't too familiar as well. Somehow, I managed to place a monster piece on the d3 square, ably supported by a c4 pawn and won a clean pawn in a rooks + knight vs rooks + knight endgame. Clearly, all the winning chances lie with me and the worst I could do was a draw. Or so I thought.....

A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "5"] [White "Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B12"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "111"] 1. d4 Nf6 $1 {I thought a triple dose of 1...Nc6 poison in consecutive Black games may be a bit too much for me to take and so the Grunfeld was thrown into action.} 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Qb3 {A small surprise, as Truong Son has seldom employed the Russian system against the Grunfeld in his previous games.} dxc4 5. Qxc4 Bg7 6. e4 ({I once had a game with Jason Goh where after} 6. Bf4 {, the gambit} Bf5 $5 7. Qxc7 Nc6 8. Qxd8+ Rxd8 9. e3 Nb4 {led to very interesting play.}) 6... O-O 7. Be2 Na6 8. Nf3 c5 9. d5 e6 10. O-O exd5 11. exd5 Bf5 12. Rd1 Re8 13. Be3 (13. d6 h6 14. Bf4 Nd7 $1 {is the main continuation according to my notes.}) 13... Nd7 $6 {This isn't a bad move in itself but I accidentally mixed up my theory.} (13... Qb6 14. d6 h6 15. Rd2 Ne4 16. d7 Re6 17. Nxe4 Rxe4 {is supposedly fine for Black. White's passed d-pawn will not be allowed to be promoted.}) 14. Rd2 (14. g4 $5 Nb6 15. Qf4 Bd7 16. Ng5 Qf6 17. Qxf6 Bxf6 18. Nge4 {looks like a promising way for White to proceed }) 14... Rc8 15. a3 Nb6 16. Qf4 c4 $1 {Here, I was very optimistic about my position and the plan of ...Na6 - c5 - d3 was obvious but yet awkward to defend.} 17. Bd4 Nc5 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. Nd4 (19. Bxc4 Ne4 $1 {was my sneaky trap. Admittedly, this was a bit too obvious for a 2650 GM.}) 19... Bd3 $1 20. Bg4 $2 {Provoking my next move, but the tempo move turned out to be a pretty useful one.} (20. Bf3 {was better although Black retains the initiative and the advantage with} Qf6) 20... f5 21. Bf3 Qf6 {Preparing ...g5. Black had completely taken over the initiative and was the one playing for the win now.} 22. h4 Nbd7 ({The direct} 22... h6 $1 {is surprisingly annoying to face. However, such harmless looking moves are the most difficult to make over the board.}) 23. Rdd1 Be4 $2 {A silly slip, after which I was lucky not to be simply lost. I was eager to put a knight on the d3 square but this was completely missing the point.} ({The natural and very intuitive} 23... Qe5 $1 24. Qxe5+ Nxe5 {would have been very strong for Black.}) 24. Ne6+ $1 {I have completely missed this.} Nxe6 25. dxe6 Nc5 26. Bxe4 $2 ({After the game, Truong Son told me he had calculated} 26. Rd7+ $1 Re7 27. Bxe4 fxe4 $2 (27... Nxd7 28. exd7 Rd8 29. Bxb7 Rexd7 30. Bf3 {was much better for White.}) 28. Qxf6+ Kxf6 29. Nd5+ {and wins. For someone who is as calm and composed as him in quick time controls, such errors are really rare.}) 26... fxe4 27. Qxf6+ Kxf6 28. Rd5 Kxe6 {Somehow, I have emerged with an extra pawn and with roughly equal time, Black is pushing for the win!} 29. Re1 (29. Rd4 Kf7 30. Rxc4) 29... Kf7 $2 {....and yet almost immediately, I made a critical slip.} (29... Red8 $1 30. Rxd8 (30. Rg5 Rd4) 30... Rxd8 31. Nxe4 Nd3 32. Re2 Kd5 $1 {was necessary to maintain the edge. Black would continue by charging his queenside pawns up the board and his more active king and pieces are certain to play a critical role in the next few moves.}) ({Alternatively, even the calm} 29... a6 $1 {, preparing ...b5 is pretty good.}) 30. Rd4 Re5 $2 {A moment of chess blindness, completely forgetting that c4 was en prise. Truong Son didn't wait for an invitation card.} 31. Rxc4 b5 $5 32. Rd4 a6 33. Re2 Rce8 34. b4 e3 35. Rxe3 ( 35. f4 $1 Nb3 36. Rd7+ (36. fxe5 Nxd4 37. Rxe3) 36... R5e7 37. Rxe7+ Rxe7 38. Nd5 {was Truong Son's idea but here I had} Rd7 39. Nxe3 Rd3 {with strong counter play although admittedly, anything could happen.}) 35... Rxe3 36. fxe3 Rxe3 37. Nd5 Ne6 $1 38. Nxe3 Nxd4 39. Nd5 Nc2 40. Nc7 Nxa3 41. Nxa6 Ke6 42. Kf2 Ke5 43. Ke3 Nc4+ 44. Kd3 Nd6 45. Nc7 Nf5 46. g3 h5 47. Nxb5 Nxg3 48. Nd4 {I've managed to simplify my way to a ridiculously easy draw and with 1 minute to go, should really have finished the game off pretty easily. However, what transpired instead was an inexplicable error of judgement that probably qualifies for Singapore's costliest blunder of the year award...} Nf5 $4 49. Nxf5 gxf5 50. Ke3 Kd5 51. Kf4 Kc4 52. Kxf5 Kxb4 53. Kg5 Kc5 54. Kxh5 Kd6 55. Kg6 Ke7 56. Kg7 {To my utter dismay, I was not able to bring my king back to f8 which was what I calculated. I had to muster all the energy I had left to prevent myself from eliciting an anguished howl....} 1-0
This was a terrible set back and a huge blow to my medal chances. A draw would have been an excellent result given that none of the Grandmasters were on top form and I felt I certainly deserved something from the game.

I didn't have much time to pity myself though, as I was paired against Oliver Barbosa, another strong Grandmaster from the Philippines. I will cover the last 2 rounds in the 3rd and last part of this series....

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