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...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.

Monday, 18 August 2014

41st World Chess Olympiad - Part 1 - Rounds 1 to 3

Having announced my possible retirement from National duties in my previous post, this year's Olympiad is a particularly important and emotional event. I badly wanted to do well for 3 concrete reasons - i) To achieve my final GM norm, ii) to make up for my abrupt departure during the 2012 Olympiad and iii) this may well be my last Olympiad for some time. 

However, the preparation for such a big event was hardly ideal. I was still doing last minute handover at my office 3 hrs before my flight to Norway and my opening preparation was next to zero. I did, however, manage to squeeze in 3 standard chess training games with former Olympians and IMs Hsu Li Yang and Terry Toh which played a very important part in warming me up. Qing Aun also had the chance to play 3 training games (vs Choo Tong Neo, Olimpiu Urcan and former National Champion Lau Keng Boon) when certain weaknesses in his opening repertoire were made aware to him. I also had a couple of last minute training sessions with Zhang Zhong, Jingyao and Qing Aun while Qianyun played in an open tournament in Spain and this was more or less it. It goes without saying that our preparation could and should have been a lot more elaborate but the late announcement of the team composition may have played a part. Hopefully, with the implementation of the Dream Team initiative whereby scheduled trainings are expected to take place on a regular basis, such shoddy preparation may be a thing of the past.

We departed on 31st July and arrived in Tromso early afternoon on 1 August, via a couple of transits in Bangkok and Oslo. Our team captain, IM Leslie Leow (himself, a former National player and Olympiad player) was waiting for us and hurriedly told us to have lunch and not to worry about anything else. Apparently he had already completed all the accreditation and hotel check-ins for us! His initiative and pro-activeness will prove to be extremely helpful throughout the tournament as you will soon read.

We stayed at the Rica Ishavs Hotel, incidentally the same hotel as the Norweigians, Hungarians and the English, among others. The hotel also housed the Kasparov campaign office and it soon became a common sight to see the Boss himself walking about in the corridor together with SCF President Ignatius Leong and other members of the Kasparov team. The Kasparov team had clearly spared no expenses for the FIDE elections. Huge posters of Kasparov were everywhere in the city and a book authored and autographed by Kasparov himself was presented to each member of every team were just 2 examples. If Kasparov had expected to lose, he clearly had no intention to go down without a fight.

Meanwhile back at home, a Facebook group comprising ex-National players and Olympians such as IMs Hsu Li Yang and Terry Toh, FM Ong Chong Ghee , NM Lee Wang Sheng and Junior Tay was formed. The Group would be the Singapore team's no.1 fan club, following our games religiously every round and providing live annotations and often hilarious comments.

Round 1 - Singapore 4 Papua New Guinea 0

In the first round, we were paired against the lower seeded Papua New Guinea team and Zhang Zhong was rested, allowing Qianyun, Jingyao and Qing Aun to make their Olympiad debuts with relatively straightforward wins. Board 1 was a tough struggle though: A game that I liked
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.02"] [Round "1.13"] [White "Goh Wei Ming Kevin"] [Black "Fancy Stuart"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C23"] [WhiteElo "2433"] [BlackElo "2036"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r4rk1/6pp/2ppbp2/1pp1n2N/P3P1P1/1P1P2KP/1BP5/R4R2 b - - 0 24"] [PlyCount "28"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] {After some rather harmless opening play, Black had comfortably equalised although the current late middlegame still retained some play for both sides. I honestly wasn't sure what I was playing for though given that I was already in semi-time trouble having consumed huge amount of time in the opening. Here, Stuart played the slightly inaccurate} 24... c4 $6 {to which I followed up with } 25. d4 Ng6 26. axb5 cxb5 27. g5 $5 {, with the idea of creating some play down the long diagonal.} ({Here,} 27. d5 $1 Bf7 28. bxc4 bxc4 29. Bc3 $1 Ne5 30. Nf4 {followed by h4 and g5 looks more promising.}) 27... Rxa1 28. Rxa1 fxg5 29. d5 Bd7 ({I was rather afraid of} 29... Nf4 $1 {and Black seems to be fine.} ) 30. Ra7 Rf7 (30... Nf4 $1 {is a better defensive try and appears to hold after} 31. Rxd7 Nxh5+ 32. Kg4 Nf6+ 33. Bxf6 Rxf6 34. bxc4 bxc4 35. Kxg5 Kf8 36. Rc7 Rg6+ 37. Kf4 Rf6+) 31. Bxg7 Bc8 32. Ra8 Rc7 33. b4 $1 {This was an inspired decision although I certainly wasn't aware of it during the game! Here, I suddenly saw 33...Nf4 which seemed terribly strong and I panicked for a second...} Kf7 $2 {This loses without too much resistance.} (33... Nf4 {was indeed best but White wins after} 34. Nf6+ Kf7 35. h4 $1 {(the g7 bishop is still immune)} ({the team analysed} 35. Bh8 Ng6 $2 {and now Qianyun pointed out the incredibly strong} (35... h5 $1 {was best.}) 36. e5 $3 {, winning in all variations for example} dxe5 37. d6 $1 Rc6 38. d7 $18) 35... h6 36. hxg5 hxg5 37. Bh8 Ng6 38. e5 $3 Nxh8 39. exd6 Rb7 40. Ne4 $1 Bf5 41. Nc5 Rb6 42. d7 Bxd7 43. Nxd7 Rd6 44. Ne5+ Kf6 45. Ng4+ Kg7 46. Ne3 {with a clear edge for White.}) 34. Bh6 Ne5 35. Bxg5 Bb7 36. Ra7 Kg6 37. Nf4+ Kf7 38. Ne6 1-0
A rather fortunate win but I was certainly not complaining! Stuart, who's actually a friend of mine was a good sport after the game and actually went on to score 7.5 points in his next 10 games.
In Round 2, we were up against the mighty English. With the team littered with 2650+ GMs, the English team was able to rest superstar Michael Adams against us and still outrate us heavily on every board. The match turned out be a much closer affair.

Round 2 - England 3 Singapore 1

On board 1, Zhang Zhong played his trademark 3.Qxd4 Anti Sicilian against the dangerous Gawain Jones and had a good opportunity to seize an early opening advantage:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.03"] [Round "2.5"] [White "Zhang Zhong"] [Black "Jones Gawain C B"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B53"] [WhiteElo "2611"] [BlackElo "2665"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:09:11"] [BlackClock "0:09:45"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 Nf6 {After the game, Zhang Zhong confided in me that he had looked at virtually every line except for this particular move and was extremely annoyed at himself for missing this in his prep.} 5. e5 Nc6 6. Qa4 $1 (6. Bb5 {is the main alternative but Black generally does very well here after the forcing variation} Qa5+ 7. Nc3 Qxb5 $1 8. Nxb5 Nxd4 9. Nfxd4 ({perhaps, White should play for equality after} 9. Nbxd4 dxe5 10. Nxe5 {although I still prefer Black after} Nd5 $1) 9... dxe5 10. Nc7+ Kd7 $1 11. Nxa8 exd4 12. Bf4 Nd5 (12... e5 $5 {, with the idea} 13. Bxe5 Bd6 $1 {also looks good for Black.}) 13. O-O-O e6 14. Rxd4 Bc5 15. Rd2 Kc6 16. Be5 b5 $1 {and Black has good chances in the ensuing endgame.}) 6... dxe5 7. Nxe5 Qd4 $6 {This seemed very logical but this actually allowed White decent chances to seize the initiative.} ({Destroying his own structure with} 7... Qc7 $1 8. Nxc6 bxc6 {seems counter-intuitive but is actually pretty efficient in terms of the ability to develop his pieces quickly. For example,} 9. g3 Bd7 10. Nd2 (10. Bg2 Qe5+ $1 {is awkward to meet.}) 10... Rb8 11. Bg2 c5 12. Qc4 Rb6 $1 {and with the threat of ...Re6, Black is very active.}) 8. Qxd4 Nxd4 9. Na3 Nd7 $6 { Another slight inaccuracy from the Englishman.} (9... a6 10. c3 Nf5 {is a safer defence although White retains a very small pull after} 11. Be2) 10. Bf4 $2 {This threw away any chances of obtaining an opening edge.} (10. c3 $1 {, as mentioned by Zhang Zhong after the game, was pretty good. For example,} Ne6 (10... Nxe5 11. cxd4 Nc6 12. Nb5 {forces Black to displace his king with} Kd8) (10... Nc2+ 11. Nxc2 Nxe5 12. Be3 a6 13. Be2 $14) 11. Bb5 Nec5 12. Nxd7 Bxd7 13. Be3 $14 {. In general, White gets a small but risk-free edge which is the kind of thing you want to get against a 2600+ Grandmaster.}) 10... f6 $1 {This equalises by force and the game eventually petered out a draw after mass exchanges:} 11. Nxd7 Bxd7 12. O-O-O e5 13. Be3 Bxa3 14. Bxd4 Be7 15. Be3 Be6 16. g3 Rc8 17. Bg2 b6 18. Bd5 Kf7 19. f4 Rhd8 20. Bxe6+ Kxe6 21. fxe5 Rxd1+ 22. Kxd1 fxe5 23. c3 h5 24. Ke2 Rc4 25. h3 b5 26. Rc1 Re4 27. Re1 h4 28. Kf3 $6 { Not the most accurate, although good enough eventually.} (28. g4 {was safest, and the resulting pawn endgame after} Bc5 29. Kf3 Rxe3+ 30. Rxe3 Bxe3 31. Kxe3 Kd5 32. b3 {leads to a clear draw.}) 28... Ra4 29. Ra1 hxg3 30. Kxg3 a6 31. b3 Re4 32. Kf3 Rh4 33. Kg2 Re4 (33... Rh8 $5 {[%cal Gh8c8]}) 34. Kf3 Rh4 35. Kg2 Re4 1/2-1/2
I took the Black pieces against the legendary Nigel David Short, someone I've played (and lost to) many times on the server. The opening was not a major success by any means but I somehow managed to break free after getting squashed the entire time, after which the game sprung to life:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "41st World Chess Olympiad"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.04"] [Round "2"] [White "Nigel Short"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C05"] [WhiteElo "2665"] [BlackElo "2433"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "72"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 {In my many duels with Nigel on, Nigel has often played 3.Nc3 here and in all the games, have killed me from strangulation. I was slightly surprised with the Tarrasch as this is not his favored choice against the French according to my database. Of course, being somewhat of a French expert himself, it's not surprising that he knows a lot about every line here.} Nf6 {I didn't want to walk into any surprises after 3.. .Be7 which has always been my preferred choice. After the game, Nigel told me he used to play tons of games with 3...Nf6 back in the 1970s to which I wryly replied "I wasn't even born yet".} 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 {This was another unpleasant surprise as this cramping move has fallen out of favor at top level these days ever since Black found convincing ideas to look for counter play. My preparation with this however is several years old and I couldn't remember a single thing over the board.} c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ndf3 Qb6 8. a3 $5 {This was already slightly rare. White normally only plays this after he plays Nge2.} ({ The old mainline goes} 8. Ne2 f6 9. g3 Be7 10. Bh3 cxd4 11. cxd4 O-O $1 {(a sharp sacrifice which I vaguely remember)} 12. Bxe6+ Kh8 {and here,} 13. Bxd5 $2 {is a well known error due to} fxe5 14. dxe5 $2 Nb4 $1 15. Be4 Nc5 {with an irresistible initiative.}) ({After} 8. Ne2 f6 9. a3 Be7 10. h4 {(A standard move in this line - prepping Rh3, adding control over the g5-square and in general just space gaining.)} O-O 11. Rh3 a5 12. b3 {(this anticipates a future pawn-fixing ...a4)} Qc7 {, Black gets a fair share of activity and the position remains extremely tense.}) 8... a5 {I generally like to stop b2-b4 although Black does have decent alternatives.} 9. b3 {As mentioned earlier, this move prevents ...a5-a4 permanently and also gives rise to the possibility of Ra1-a2 where the rook is flexibly deployed.} Be7 10. h4 $5 {This was a cunning move, delaying the development of the g1-knight for reasons that will be clear very soon. The good thing about White's position was that he has a number of useful waiting moves while the same can't be said for Black.} ({In fact,} 10. Ra2 $1 {may be even more efficient when he once again gets his ideal set up after} O-O $6 11. Bd3 $1 {and h4 may not be necessary since White manages to castle kingside smoothly.}) 10... f6 $2 {Completely missing the point.} ({During the game, I felt} 10... Qa7 $5 {, momentarily preventing White's next move and preparing ...Rb8 followed by ...b5 makes a lot of sense.} ) ({John Watson gives} 10... cxd4 11. cxd4 h5 $5 {as a permanent way to halt White's progress on the kingside but White definitely remains for choice here after} 12. Bb2) 11. Bd3 $1 {Of course, this was the key idea behind White's last few moves. White's light square bishop is strategically preferred on the d3 square but in these f4 variations, it often gets deployed on h3 instead due to Black's pressure on the d4 pawn. Here, White's queen continues to defend the d4 pawn tactically.} Qc7 {Played with the idea of ...Rb8 and ...b5, seeking counterplay.} ({I had no intention of allowing Nigel to win beautifully after} 11... O-O $2 12. Bxh7+ $1 Kxh7 13. Ng5+ Kh6 (13... fxg5 14. Qh5+ Kg8 15. hxg5 {is crushing.}) 14. Ne2 $1 {, followed by Ng3 when Black has no defence.}) 12. Ne2 Rb8 ({Now that the queen does not have any access to the h5 square, I briefly considered} 12... O-O $5 {but didn't like the looks of} 13. Qc2 {when} f5 {looks forced when White should be quite happy as he is the one holding the trumps on the kingside and can potentially set up a future g4 break.}) 13. a4 ({During the game, I was wondering about a move like} 13. h5 $5 b5 14. h6 g6 {and what this sequence meant structurally for Black. There are some specific risks here since after} 15. exf6 Nxf6 16. Qc2 $1 {, White threatens to sacrifice on g6 with a terrifying initiative. Even without concrete tactics, White's structure looks preferable as he can look to exert pressure on the e6 pawn and the h6 pawn is always a thorn.}) 13... cxd4 14. cxd4 Nb4 15. O-O Nxd3 {It felt right to exchange some pieces although the c6 knight was clearly my best piece for the time being.} 16. Qxd3 O-O 17. Ba3 $2 { Exchanging the dark square bishops was highly desirable strategically but unfortunately, (or fortunately for me), this allowed Black a momentous tactical sequence that equalised on the spot.} ({The team analysed} 17. Bd2 b6 18. Rac1 Qa7 19. Nc3 ({Leslie suggested} 19. Rc6 {but here, Black had the amazing resource} fxe5 20. fxe5 Ba6 21. Qe3 Rfc8 ({The computer suggests the jaw dropping} 21... Nc5 $3 22. dxc5 Bxc5 23. Rxc5 bxc5 {and claims equality here.}) {, with the idea} 22. Rxe6 $2 Nf8 $1) 19... Ba6 20. Nb5 {and White retains a clear spatial edge.}) ({Zhang Zhong also suggested} 17. h5 $5 {which should also be sufficient for an edge.}) 17... Bxa3 18. Rxa3 Nc5 $1 {Now, Black gets his problem knight to a useful square regardless of White's reply.} 19. Qc3 {The queen exchange is more or less forced.} ({After} 19. Qe3 Ne4 20. Rc1 Qe7 21. Raa1 Bd7 {Black is already going to take over the initiative.}) 19... Na6 20. Qxc7 Nxc7 {The worst had clearly passed and I was beginning to feel quite optimistic about my position. I planned ...Bd7-e8 and ...b5, with pressure all over the board. Nigel's next move stopped me in my tracks.} 21. h5 $1 h6 {A reactive move which I didn't spend too much time on.} ({I wasn't sure what happens after} 21... b6 22. h6 gxh6 23. exf6 {but it seems like Black is doing fine after} Ne8 24. Ne5 Nxf6 {[%csl Gc8][%cal Gc8a6]}) 22. exf6 gxf6 23. f5 e5 ({Wrecking my structure with} 23... exf5 $2 {would have caused me game-long suffering after} 24. Nh4) 24. Nh4 Bd7 25. Ng6 ({I was a little worried about} 25. b4 $5 axb4 26. Rg3+ Kf7 27. Rg6 {although Black's passers on the queenside obviously means that there is some inherent risk with this approach. The computer gives a 0.00 score here so who knows what is really happening?}) 25... Rfe8 26. Raa1 Kf7 27. Rac1 Na6 28. g4 b5 $1 {This felt liberative and despite the time trouble, I felt I may already have enough grounds to play for a win here. White's pawn triangle on the kingside may be restraining but was also somewhat vulnerable and my knight and bishop covered the c-file quite sufficiently.} 29. Rfe1 $2 {This looked and felt natural but was actually an inaccuracy.} (29. dxe5 fxe5 30. Rfd1 $1 d4 31. axb5 Bxb5 32. Ng3 $1 Rbd8 33. Ra1 $1 a4 $1 34. bxa4 Bc6 35. a5 e4 $13 {was a piece of computer-inspired analysis.}) 29... bxa4 30. bxa4 Rb4 $5 {I was playing by instinct alone and I felt the rook on b4 felt right.} (30... exd4 $5 31. Nxd4 Rxe1+ 32. Rxe1 Re8 $1 {would have put White under severe pressure although after} 33. Rc1 Re4 34. Nb5 $1 {, threatening Nd6+, White should retain sufficient counter play although things are of course extremely messy and the result could go either way.}) 31. Kf2 exd4 32. Nef4 Rb2+ 33. Kf1 $2 {Gifting Black the one and only chance he needed to play for the win.} (33. Kg3 Nb4 $1 34. Rxe8 Kxe8 35. Re1+ Kd8 36. Ne6+ Bxe6 37. fxe6 Rb3+ 38. Kg2 d3 {gives Black good winning chances}) (33. Kf3 {may be best but Black can still soldier on after} Bxa4 34. Rxe8 Kxe8 35. Nxd5 d3 36. Nxf6+ Kd8 37. Ne4 d2 38. Nxd2 Rxd2 39. Ke3 Rd7 40. Ne5 {when White may win one of Black's remaining two pawns with good chances for the draw.}) 33... Re3 $6 ({It's hard to argue with a move that forces a draw with a top player but here,} 33... Bxa4 $1 {is extremely strong and would have allowed Black to press infinitely for the win.} ) 34. Nxd5 {Basically agreeing to the draw.} (34. Rxe3 dxe3 35. Nxd5 Rf2+ ( 35... e2+ 36. Kf2 Bxa4 37. g5 $1 {would have given White some tricks.} ({I was calculating} 37. Nc3 $2 Nb4 $1)) 36. Ke1 Nb4 37. Nxb4 axb4 38. Rc7 Ke8 39. Rb7 Bxa4 40. Rxb4 Bc6 {should also be fully equal.}) 34... Rf3+ 35. Kg1 Rg3+ 36. Kf1 Rf3+ 1/2-1/2
Qianyun got a highly promising position straightout from the opening against David Howell and also had a significant time advantage. Before the tournament, I was following the British Championships a little and noticed that David is a bit of a "thinker" and often gets into time trouble even when the positions he gets are theoretically known. In this game, David spent huge volumes of time in the opening but got himself a bad position. However, Qianyun drifted for a few moves and the classy GM pounced to nasty effect:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.03"] [Round "2.7"] [White "Gong Qianyun"] [Black "Howell David W L"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C24"] [WhiteElo "2328"] [BlackElo "2650"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:01:05"] [BlackClock "0:01:09"] 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 $5 {The Bishop's Opening is a nice line to play if you are terrified of the Petroff. The downside is that it allows the system that David utilised in the game.} Nf6 (2... Nc6 3. Nf3 {transposes to the Giucco Piano but White has effectively avoided the Petroff defence with this move order.}) 3. d3 c6 $5 {This is the mainline of the Bishop's Opening which equalises by force.} ({Again,} 3... Nc6 4. Nf3 {transposes to well-known stuff.}) 4. Nf3 h6 $5 {An interesting choice played after a long think.} ({David undoubtedly knows the theory after} 4... d5 5. Bb3 Bd6 {but is perhaps keen to avoid the simplifications that may arise after} 6. Nc3 dxe4 7. Nxe4 Nxe4 8. dxe4 {when its unrealistic for Black to play for a win against a decent opponent. I'll just like to add that} Bb4+ $2 {here does not equalise in view of} 9. c3 Qxd1+ 10. Kxd1 Bd6 11. Kc2 O-O 12. Rd1 Bc7 13. Be3 $14) 5. Nc3 d6 6. h3 g6 $6 {This seemed extravagant.} (6... Be7 7. d4 Nbd7 {with a Philidor-type of position seems better especially when White has spent 2 moves to push her pawn to d4.}) 7. Be3 (7. d4 $1 {, with the idea} Qe7 8. dxe5 dxe5 9. a4 Nbd7 10. O-O Bg7 11. b3 $1 {seems very promising for White. White simply develops in Philidor style but Black has spent two important tempo to fianchetto his dark square bishop where its actually misplaced. Black would have to play very carefully not to end up with a lost position inside 20 moves.}) 7... Bg7 8. Qd2 {This plan, not allowing Black to castle kingside was also pretty good and secured White a safe advantage. Here, Houdini 4 at depth 20 suggests the ridiculous 8... c5!?!?! which is a clear indication on how dubious Black's position was at this point.} Nbd7 9. Bb3 ({Again, I like} 9. a4 $1 $16) 9... Qe7 10. d4 a5 11. d5 $2 {Qianyun overlooked a move in her calculations and allowed Black to equalise with a straightforward shot.} (11. dxe5 Nxe5 12. Nxe5 dxe5 13. O-O $14 {would have continued to pose some problems for Black.}) 11... a4 $1 {A typical but nice motif.} 12. Bxa4 Nxe4 13. Nxe4 Rxa4 14. dxc6 Rxe4 15. cxd7+ Bxd7 16. O-O-O Ra4 $1 17. a3 ({I felt that} 17. Qxd6 Qxd6 18. Rxd6 Rxa2 19. Kb1 Ra8 20. Re1 {was a promising way to "force" a draw although there's still a lot of chess to be played.}) 17... Ra6 $15 {Black had gained a lot over the last few moves, opening up the a-file, getting rid of White's pawn centre and gaining the bishop pair and had seized the advantage. This was truly a remarkable turnaround after the dubious opening. From here, the class of the English Grandmaster told and he never gave Qianyun a chance.} 18. Rhe1 Be6 19. g4 Qc7 20. Ng1 h5 $1 21. gxh5 Rxh5 22. f4 Qc4 23. fxe5 Rxe5 24. Nf3 Rb5 25. Bd4 Qa2 26. Qe3 Rxb2 $1 27. Bxb2 Qxb2+ 28. Kd2 Rxa3 29. Qf4 Bc3+ 30. Ke2 Qxc2+ 31. Nd2 Be5 32. Qe4 Qc3 33. Rc1 Qxh3 34. Rh1 Bg4+ 35. Kf2 Qg3+ {A painful defeat for Qianyun but also a reminder that one cannot afford a single slip against top players.} 0-1
On Board 4, Matthew Sadler, the world's strongest "amateur" in my opinion, utilised the King's Indian Attack against Jingyao's 2...e6 Sicilian. I felt that this was a clever choice given Jingyao's lack of experience on the Black side of the 2...e6 Sicilian. Nevertheless, the fight was extremely messy and Jingyao obtained genuine chances:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.03"] [Round "2.8"] [White "Sadler Matthew D"] [Black "Tin Jingyao"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A08"] [WhiteElo "2653"] [BlackElo "2251"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:16:59"] [BlackClock "0:04:52"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d3 {Sadler is well known for his originality during the opening stage of the game and he not surprisingly chose not to enter the main lines of the Open Sicilian.} ({There are some merits of the move} 3. g3 $5 { which allows White the flexibility to be able to push his d pawn directly to d4 in some cases. Here,} d5 {is Black's main attempt in refuting this move order but White gets a playable position after} 4. exd5 exd5 5. d4 Nf6 6. Bg2 Qe7+ 7. Be3 Ng4 8. O-O $1 Nxe3 9. fxe3 Nc6 10. Nc3 Be6 {with an unclear game in prospect.}) 3... Nc6 4. g3 d5 (4... g6 {is another line and here White can try} 5. d4 $5 {although Black has the well-known equaliser} cxd4 6. Nxd4 Bg7 7. Nb5 d5 8. exd5 exd5 9. Qxd5 Qe7+ $1 10. Be2 Bg4 {and Black is completely fine here.}) 5. Nbd2 Nf6 (5... Bd6 6. Bg2 Nge7 {is another decent set-up.}) 6. Bg2 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1 b5 ({Here, Jacob Aagard and Nikolaos Nitirlis highly recommend} 8... Qc7 $5 {in "Playing the French" - Quality Chess 2013. The point is that after the logical continuation} 9. e5 Nd7 {, White is forced to go} 10. Qe2 {whereas in the normal move order as in the text, White is in time to complete natural development with Bf4. In any case, the position after} b5 11. Nf1 a5 12. h4 Ba6 13. Bf4 {remains highly complex.}) 9. e5 Nd7 10. Nf1 Qc7 {This move is rarely seen in this theoretical position although it is by no means bad.} (10... a5 {is the usual move.}) ({while} 10... b4 11. a3 bxa3 12. Rxa3 {leads to a different type of position.}) 11. Bf4 Bb7 ({On page 272 of "Experts vs the Anti Sicilian", Christian Bauer gave} 11... Nb6 12. h4 d4 13. N1h2 (13. h5 Nd5 14. Bc1 {"would have presented Black with the traditional dilemma; should he allow h5-h6 or play ...h6 himself, thereby creating a target for the enemy pieces?" - Bauer}) 13... Nd5 14. Bg5 Bb7 {with a level position.}) 12. h4 d4 $1 {Jingyao commits his intentions early with this move although again, the plan is based on sound positional motifs. The b6-knight was heading for d5 after which the rooks would be developed on the d and c files.} ({During the post mortem, I felt} 12... a5 $5 {may be more flexible but White simply continues with} 13. Ne3 Nb6 14. Ng4 {, with the idea} d4 $2 15. Nf6+ $1) 13. N1d2 $1 {A classy move, quickly targetting the e4 square for his knight.} Rfd8 (13... Nb4 14. Ne4 Nd5 15. Qd2 (15. Bg5 h6 $5) 15... Nxf4 16. Qxf4 {was another possible route.}) 14. g4 $5 {The computer doesn't like this move but this came across to me as a very natural move. Surely, the dark square bishop was both tactically and strategically well placed on g3?} (14. Ne4 Qb6 (14... Nb4 $2 15. Nf6+ $1 {is the key motif.}) 15. Qd2 {was another possibility. Here, Black achieves decent Queenside play with} c4 $1 {when it's not clear how White can make further progress on the Kingside.}) 14... Nb4 $1 15. a3 ({After the logical} 15. Ne4 {,} Bxe4 $1 {is an interesting positional decision, with the point that after} 16. Rxe4 Nb6 {, Black may have given up the bishop pair but the e4 rook can hardly hope to participate in the Kingside attack and Black is ready to press ahead with c4 and Rac8.}) 15... Nd5 16. Bg3 Rac8 17. Ne4 Qb6 ({During team analysis, Jingyao showed that the tempting c4 here didn't work in view of} 17... c4 18. Nd6 $1) 18. Qd2 b4 ({According to Jingyao, Sadler demonstrated the following complicated line after the game:} 18... c4 19. dxc4 Rxc4 20. b3 Nc3 $1 {although the computer refutes it with} 21. Nf6+ $1 gxf6 22. bxc4 fxe5 23. Nxe5 Bxg2 24. Kxg2 bxc4 25. Qh6 $1 $14) 19. g5 bxa3 20. bxa3 {Black had done well to reach this position but for now, he appeared stuck for a plan. White might not be crashing through on the kingside at this stage but Black certainly should not be taking things for granted and had to continuously find active moves. But how?} Qc6 (20... Ba8 $1 21. h5 Rb8 $1 {with the ideas of ...Qa6, ...Rb2 and ...c4 looks cumbersome but is strangely enough, hard to stop.}) 21. h5 {Now, Black's position starts to feel uncomfortable.} N7b6 $2 {An inaccuracy, with the following sacrifice in mind. However, Jingyao had missed his opponent's 24th move.} (21... Ba8 $5) 22. Nd6 Bxd6 23. exd6 Rxd6 24. Ne5 $1 {An extremely strong tactical resource. After losing such an important pawn, Black's position was destined to collapse.} ({ Jingyao would have gotten fantastic compensation for the material after} 24. Bxd6 Qxd6 {where he believed he had genuine chances to play for the win. While the appreciation of the positional factors (outpost on c3, weak a3-pawn etc) was spot on, it was unfortunate that this resource failed tactically.}) 24... Qe8 (24... Qc7 25. Nc4 $1 {wins a lot of material by force.}) 25. Nxf7 Qxf7 26. Bxd6 {With an exchange down for nothing, Black was hopelessly lost and Sadler cleaned up efficiently:} Nc3 27. Bxb7 Qxb7 28. Qf4 Qf7 29. Qg4 Kh8 30. g6 Qf5 31. Qxf5 exf5 32. Re6 Nd7 33. Rae1 Nf6 34. Bxc5 1-0
In Round 3, the team was paired with the lower seeded Barbados (affectionately coined the "Barbie Dolls" in the Facebook group) and I hurriedly volunteered to sit out this round as I felt I would potentially face a lower rated opponent that may jeopardize any possible norm chances. I fully expected the team to win the match convincingly but as we'll soon see, the story could have turned out very differently...

Round 3 - Barbados 0 - Singapore 4

A big win as expected but this certainly could have turned out very differently! On Board 1, Zhang Zhong was surprised by the 4.f3 variation in the Nimzo-Indian and misplayed his preparation and was facing a hopelessly lost position by move 16. His opponent, clearly overawed by the occasion, started playing inexplicably for the draw and somehow managed to throw away an extremely advantageous position:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.04"] [Round "3.40"] [White "Warner Delisle"] [Black "Zhang Zhong"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E25"] [WhiteElo "2243"] [BlackElo "2611"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "120"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:56:52"] [BlackClock "0:18:07"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 $5 {This is a favourite of the Chinese superstar Ding Liren and has been played at the highest level, most notably by Vishy Anand in the World Championship match against Carlsen.} d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ ( 5... Be7 $5 {is topical, with the idea of} 6. e4 dxe4 7. fxe4 e5 8. d5 (8. Nf3 $5) 8... Bc5 9. Nf3 Bg4 {, with interest dark square play.}) 6. bxc3 c5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. dxc5 Qa5 ({After the game, Zhang Zhong told me that he had forgotten his opening preparation and in fact, his line had always been} 8... f5 $5 {, rather than at move 10 in the game.}) 9. e4 Ne7 10. Be3 f5 $2 {This led to a significant disadvantage.} (10... O-O 11. Qb3 Qc7 {is of course the hot mainline and readers will do well to consult Edward Dearing's book "Play the Nimzo-Indian" which covers this position adequately.}) 11. Qb3 Nbc6 12. Bd3 Bd7 13. Ne2 {With simple play, White had increased his edge and Black, not quite able to castle either side without suffering some sort of compromise was facing an impossible situation.} Ne5 14. Bc2 Qa6 15. Rb1 Nd3+ {This should have lost immediately but its hard to suggest any sort of move here.} 16. Bxd3 Qxd3 17. c4 $4 {After his previous flawless opening play, White managed to somehow throw away the lion share of the advantage in one move.} ({Here, Zhang Zhong said} 17. Kf2 {was more or less winning on the spot. Perhaps, Black was afraid of some form of counterplay after} fxe4 {but} 18. Rhd1 Qa6 19. Rxd7 $1 Kxd7 20. Rd1+ (20. Qxb7+ Qxb7 21. Rxb7+ Ke8 22. Nd4 {was also pretty strong}) 20... Ke8 21. Rd6 b6 22. Rxe6 {is curtains.}) 17... Qxb3 {Probably played with a sigh of relief. However, the worst may have passed but the danger had not and Black remained a pawn down with very little in return. But at the very least, his position was not lost yet.} 18. Rxb3 fxe4 19. fxe4 O-O-O 20. O-O Ba4 21. Rb4 Bc6 22. Bg5 $6 {This in itself was not a bad move but the intention behind it was deeply flawed.} ({Here, I was mainly concerned with} 22. Nd4 $1 { , with the idea} e5 23. Nb5 {when White infiltrates on the dark squares.}) 22... Rd7 23. Bxe7 $4 {White completely lost thread of the position with this strategically mistaken exchange.} ({It was hard to imagine what White was thinking here, giving up his dominant dark square bishop for the temporarily paralysed knight but perhaps he was afraid of something like} 23. Nc3 Ng6 { followed by ...Ne5. However, the knight on d6 after} 24. Nb5 $1 Kb8 25. Nd6 { is about a hundred times more important than a knight on the e5 square which could be dislodged easily at any point.}) 23... Rxe7 {Continuing his passive strategy of "holding and exchanging at every opportune moment".} 24. Nc3 ({If White was fighting for a draw, I thought} 24. Nd4 $1 Bxe4 25. Re1 {exchanging another set of pawns, would have made more sense.}) 24... a6 25. Rd1 h5 $1 { Played with the idea of ...h4 and ...Rh5. Black had completely equalised and had his best position of the game so far. Zhang Zhong was no doubt buoyed at this stage and must be thinking of playing for the win!} 26. Rb2 h4 27. Rf2 Kc7 ({Zhang Zhong showed that after} 27... Rh5 {,} 28. Rf8+ Re8 29. Rxe8+ Bxe8 30. Rd6 Bd7 (30... Re5 $5) 31. c6 $1 bxc6 32. Na4 {, White would obtain a draw relatively comfortably. Hence, he wanted to keep as many pieces on the board as possible. Percentage chess, Mr. Terry Toh?}) 28. Nd5+ $5 {An interesting piece sacrifice to get his pawns rolling. Such a piece sacrifice is normally more effective with more pieces on the board though. A typical example is seen in the famous game Vishy Anand - Wang Hao, Wijk Aan Zee 2011.} exd5 29. cxd5 $2 (29. exd5 $1 {, keeping control of the b5 square was much stronger as analysed by the team after the game. For instance,} Rd7 30. Rb1 Ba4 {(Black would dearly like to play ...Bb5 here.)} 31. Rb4 Bd1 32. Rfb2 {with sufficient counterplay for equality but no more.}) 29... Rd7 {Now, Black was clearly in the driver's seat.} 30. d6+ $2 {Giving up total control of the light square was suicidal.} ({A move like} 30. Rfd2 {would have forced Black to continue searching for good moves to formulate a breakthrough.}) 30... Kc8 31. e5 Re8 32. Re1 Re6 33. Rf4 Rd8 34. Rxh4 Rde8 35. Rh5 Rg6 $1 36. g3 Kd7 37. Kf2 Rf8+ 38. Ke3 Ke6 {Zhang Zhong had blockaded the central pawns nicely and didn't slip up from here:} 39. Rh4 Rf3+ 40. Kd2 Rxa3 41. Rh8 Rg4 42. Re3 Rxe3 43. Kxe3 Re4+ 44. Kd3 Rxe5 45. Kd4 Re4+ 46. Kd3 Kd5 47. Rh7 Bb5+ 48. Kc3 Rg4 49. Rh5+ Kc6 50. Re5 g6 51. Kb3 Rd4 52. Rg5 a5 53. Rxg6 Kxc5 54. h4 Rxd6 55. Rg7 Rd7 56. Rg5+ Rd5 57. Rg7 Bc4+ 58. Ka4 b6 59. g4 Rd2 60. Rc7+ Kd4 0-1
Qianyun's game was pretty ruthless as she simply tore her opponent's defences apart:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.04"] [Round "3.39"] [White "Gong Qianyun"] [Black "Husbands Orlando"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B53"] [WhiteElo "2328"] [BlackElo "2118"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2rq1rk1/1p2p2p/p1npn1p1/5b2/2P5/1P3NNP/PQ2BPP1/3R1RK1 w - - 0 20"] [PlyCount "29"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:44:52"] [BlackClock "0:15:16"] {Black had gone astray early in the opening and Qianyun started her usual aggressive play with} 20. Nh4 $1 {when Black was already in a difficult situation.} Ne5 (20... Qc7 21. Bf3 Ng7 22. Ngxf5 gxf5 23. Rfe1 {also looks ultra depressing for Black.}) 21. f4 Qb6+ 22. Kh2 Nc6 23. Nhxf5 gxf5 24. Bf3 Nc7 25. Nh5 $1 Rf7 26. Bxc6 $1 Qxc6 27. Rd3 $1 {White's play was so smooth and logical that no commentary was required.} e5 28. fxe5 dxe5 29. Qxe5 Qe6 30. Rg3+ Kf8 31. Qc5+ Qe7 32. Qd4 Ke8 33. Ng7+ Kf8 34. Nxf5 {and Black had enough. An utterly ruthless demonstration.} 1-0
After the game, the Facebook Group promptly dubbed Qianyun as the "Husbands killer"! Not sure what that meant to my old friend Mr. Tay Shihao....

On Board 3, Jingyao had to face the quiet 2.c3 Sicilian where his opponent had gone for an early queen exchange. The position was not without its dangers though, and Black had to tread carefully:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.04"] [Round "3.38"] [White "Denny Kevin"] [Black "Tin Jingyao"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B40"] [WhiteElo "2261"] [BlackElo "2251"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1b2rk1/p3bppp/np2pn2/1N1q4/3Q4/2P1BN2/PP2BPPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 11"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:01:16"] [BlackClock "0:31:56"] {Here, Black played the erroneous} 11... Bc5 $2 {which could have led to an extremely tricky position.} ({Instead,} 11... Bb7 {was solid enough.}) 12. Qxd5 $2 (12. Qf4 $1 {, with the idea} Bxe3 ({or} 12... Bb7 13. Rfd1 Qe4 14. Nd6 $14) 13. Qxe3 Bb7 14. Rfd1 $1 Qc6 15. Rac1 {followed by queenside expansion with b4 and c4 looks very good for White.}) 12... Nxd5 13. Bd2 Nac7 14. Nxc7 Nxc7 15. b4 Be7 16. c4 f6 17. Nd4 Bb7 {Black had escaped into an objectively equal not-quite-an-endgame, or NQE but I would rather prefer Black here as his plan of playing ...e5, ...Kf7 and ...f5 is attractive and easy to play. White soon lost thread of the position and Jingyao displayed fine technique in outplaying his IM opponent to a victory:} 18. Rab1 Rfd8 19. Be3 Be4 $6 (19... e5 $1 {was more accurate.}) 20. Rb2 (20. Bf3 $1 {is a strong computer suggestion, the point being that after} Bxf3 21. gxf3 Bf8 22. b5 e5 23. Nc6 {, the strong knight on c6 compensates for White's wrecked kingside pawns.}) 20... e5 21. Nf3 Ne6 22. Rd1 Rxd1+ 23. Bxd1 Rd8 24. Nd2 Bb7 {Black was dominant at this point.} 25. Bg4 Kf7 26. h3 Bc6 27. Bf3 Bxf3 28. Nxf3 Rd1+ 29. Kh2 e4 $1 30. Nd2 f5 31. g3 g5 32. c5 f4 $19 33. cxb6 fxe3 34. fxe3 axb6 35. Nxe4 Rd3 36. Rf2+ Kg6 37. Rf3 Nd4 0-1
On the last board, young Qing Aun was much surprised by the relatively rare Kalashnikov variation of the Sicilian defence. The problem with playing the mainlines is that it is very easy to be susceptible to such tricky opening variations which are perhaps, not quite mainstream but are fully playable enough to cause damage if White is not familiar with the theory. Not surprisingly, Qing Aun deviated from established theory and drifted into an extremely difficult position having consumed volumes of time in the process. To his credit, the young boy fought like a lion and in a remarkable turnaround, took his opponent to the cleaners:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "WCO2014"] [Site "Tromso"] [Date "2014.08.04"] [Round "3.37"] [White "Lee Qing Aun"] [Black "Del Castilho Martyn"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B32"] [WhiteElo "1893"] [BlackElo "2221"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:30:32"] [BlackClock "0:30:06"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e5 $5 {The Kalashnikov variation is lesser known than its sister line, the Sveshnikov but it was notably played on multiple occasions by Teimour Radjabov.} 5. Nb5 d6 (5... Nf6 6. N1c3 d6 { transposes to the Sveshnikov.}) 6. N1c3 {Probably White's best way to fight for an edge.} (6. c4 {is the other approach.}) 6... a6 7. Na3 b5 8. Nd5 Nge7 { Here, Qing Aun sank into deep thought, having fallen on unfamiliar territory.} (8... Nce7 {was also playable.}) ({while} 8... Nf6 9. Bg5 {again transposes to the Sveshnikov.}) 9. Bg5 $6 {This had been established to allow equality.} (9. c4 $1 {is the mainline and I think White has good chances to obtain an opening edge. I'll just show some of my old notes here:} Nd4 10. Be3 Nxd5 11. cxd5 Be7 (11... g6 {(a suggestion of Jan Pinski)} 12. Nc2 Nxc2+ 13. Qxc2 Bd7 14. Bd3 Bg7 15. O-O O-O 16. Qc3 $1 $14 {[%cal Gc3b4]}) 12. Bd3 O-O 13. O-O Bd7 14. Qd2 Rc8 15. Rac1 $14) 9... h6 10. Bxb5 $1 {Objectively White's best move here although this does not lead to an advantage. More importantly, Qing Aun had used a lot of his time to calculate the ramifications after this aesthetic looking piece sac.} hxg5 11. Nxe7 axb5 12. Nxc6 Qd7 13. Nb4 Ra4 14. c3 d5 {Black had blitzed out all his moves so far. Faced with such a position with Black's bishop pair looking menacing, having a severe time disadvantage and out-rated by over 300 points, one can imagine the turmoil that must have been going through Qing Aun's head and not surprisingly, he erred pretty soon.} 15. Nac2 (15. Qxd5 { would have led to calm waters, for example after} Qxd5 16. exd5 Bxb4 17. cxb4 Rxb4 18. O-O-O Bf5 19. b3 Kd7 20. Kb2 $11 {but perhaps White was still striving for complications?}) 15... dxe4 16. Qe2 $6 {This led to a pretty uncomfortable position.} (16. Qxd7+ {looks like the most practical solution as after} Bxd7 17. O-O Be6 18. Rfe1 f5 19. Nc6 $1 Bd6 20. Rad1 {, by not allowing Black to stabalise the position, White gets very decent play in the centre.}) 16... Qb7 17. O-O-O Be6 18. b3 {This weakened his king unnecessarily.} (18. a3 {looks safer although anyone would prefer Black after a move like} Be7) 18... Ra8 19. h3 Be7 20. Kb2 O-O 21. Rhe1 Qa7 $1 22. Ra1 $2 (22. Qxe4 $1 Qxf2 23. Nd5 Bxd5 24. Rxd5 {would be a more resolute defence although I still much prefer Black after} f5 $1 {, with the idea} 25. Qxe5 $4 Rxa2+ $1) 22... Bxb4 23. cxb4 Rfc8 24. Rec1 Bf5 $2 {Throwing away almost all his advantage.} (24... f5 {was screaming to be played. Perhaps, Black was afraid of} 25. f3 {but} exf3 26. gxf3 (26. Qxe5 Bf7 $1 27. gxf3 Qf2 {wins. I suspect Black missed this nuance.}) 26... Bf7 $1 {and since White cannot capture on e5 because of ...Qf2, Black is likely to be winning here.}) 25. g4 $1 Bg6 $2 {This transfer to g6 was hugely mysterious. Perhaps, Black had high hopes for the bishop after a line-opening . ..e4-e3 but White naturally stopped this quite easily. The rest of the game was mired with time trouble and hence not surprisingly, inaccuracies.} 26. Qe3 Qe7 27. a3 Rc6 (27... Rd8 $1 28. Ne1 Rd4 29. Rc6 f6 $15) 28. Ne1 Rac8 $2 (28... Rd6 29. Rd1 Rad8 $1 30. Rxd6 Qxd6 $15) 29. Rxc6 Rxc6 30. Rc1 Rxc1 31. Qxc1 Qd8 32. Nc2 f6 33. Qe3 Qd5 34. Qc5 (34. a4 $1 {was more accurate.}) 34... Qd2 35. a4 {This allowed an unexpected resource which Black fortunately overlooked.} bxa4 $2 {Allowing double passers on the queenside was tantamount to resignation.} (35... e3 $1 36. fxe3 Bxc2 37. Qxc2 Qxe3 38. axb5 Qd4+ {draws.}) 36. bxa4 Kh7 37. a5 $2 (37. b5 $1) 37... Kh6 (37... e3 $1 38. fxe3 Kh6 $3 {was a tremendous drawing resource. During the post mortem, we simply wrote off Black's position as completely lost but this is where Chess can be at its most unpredictable.}) 38. Qe3 Qd5 39. a6 Bf7 40. Qa3 Be8 41. a7 Bc6 42. Qb3 Qb5 43. Qg8 1-0
The team was not completely sure whether to be elated or dismayed when we found that our round 4 opponents were to be the mighty Spanish. With Paco Vallejo spearheading the team of 5 2600+ Grandmasters, we knew that we were up against the odds. However, the team was determined to prove that we deserve to be counted and the result was an unexpectedly hard fought match....