Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Singapore Masters Blitz Invitational 2015 by Junior Tay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Reggie ready to fight like a tiger! 

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

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

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

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

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

More pictures from the event:

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

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

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

Edward Lee fought Russian FM Andrey Terekhnov to a draw.

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

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

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

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

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

25 games from the event are available for download from the sgchess.net website

1 comment: