Saturday, 10 October 2015

Conclusion to the (long overdue!) report on the Olympiad

Tromso Rounds 1-3
Tromso Rounds 4-5
Tromso Rounds 6-8

While playing a couple of training games with Russian FIDE Master Andrey Terekhov, the dude reminded me that my Olympiad report was inconclusive and there are still a few rounds that were not covered. I immediately cooked up some random excuse (no time to write, too tired etc) but the truth is that the remaining few rounds, particularly rounds 9 and 10 were extremely painful as I quite literally threw away any last ditch attempt for a GM norm. But well, here goes anyway....

In round 9, we faced a young Indonesian team led by their, by now, undisputed number 1 GM Megaranto Susanto. Games
[Event "41st World Chess Olympiad"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.11"] [Round "9"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Farid Firman Syah"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C55"] [WhiteElo "2433"] [BlackElo "2400"] [Annotator "Goh,Wei Ming, Kevin"] [PlyCount "92"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 {The Italian has worked well for me so far and I didn't see a need to find another opening against 1...e5. However, that came to haunt me in the Qatar Masters when I lost 3 painful games with it.....} Nf6 4. d3 (4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6 8. Bd3 {is another fashionable line that I have played from time to time.}) 4... Be7 (4... Bc5 { is the other big main move here.}) 5. O-O O-O 6. Bb3 d6 7. c3 Be6 ({My blog had also covered an important game that continued} 7... h6 8. Nbd2 Nh7 9. Nc4 Bg4 {½-½ (64) Goh Wei Ming, Kevin (2426)-Harikrishna Pentala (2693) Asian Nations Cup 2012.}) 8. Nbd2 Qd7 ({A common question that I've asked myself many times is what happens if Black exchanges the important light square bishop. A rather vague and general middlegame theory is that the side with less space should be trying to exchange pieces in order to gain more room for manoeuvring. However, what is equally important is determining the right piece to exchange. Here, exchange on b3 helps White to gain a tempo (by attacking b7) , increase his control over the important d5 square, and gives White the easy plan of re-routing the knight to the e3 square and playing for d3-d4.} 8... Bxb3 9. Qxb3 Qc8 10. Nc4 Nd8 $5 {[%cal Gd8e6,Gc7c6]} 11. Ne3 Ne6 12. Nf5 Re8 13. Ng5 {with a nagging initiative.}) (8... d5 {is also perfectly viable but White retains play on the light squares after} 9. Re1 dxe4 10. dxe4 Qd7 11. Qe2 ) 9. Re1 Kh8 $6 {Black appears to be struggling for ideas although it is hard to suggest anything constructive.} ({Perhaps, the computer suggestion of} 9... a5 {, beginning some kind of queenside operation makes sense.}) 10. d4 exd4 11. Nxd4 $6 {A rather counter-intuitive move.} ({Of course,} 11. cxd4 {is natural and a better move. White should keep pieces in view of his space advantage.}) 11... Nxd4 12. cxd4 d5 $2 {Rather cooperative play by Black.} (12... c6 {, retaining some control over d5 and e5 is more sensible.}) 13. e5 Ng8 14. Bc2 { Now, if White ever manages to play f4 and g4, Black would be in serious trouble.} Bg4 15. f3 Bh5 16. Nf1 Rae8 ({I had also intended} 16... c5 17. dxc5 Bxc5+ 18. Be3 d4 19. Bf2 {with a pleasant edge.}) 17. g4 Bg6 18. Ng3 Bb4 (18... c5 19. Be3 c4 $5) 19. Bxg6 hxg6 20. Rf1 {Here, I was already feeling rather confident of my position. The plan to play f4-f5 is a simple and natural plan and I hadn't seen how Black could defend against this plan. Unfortunately, I had already spent a lot of time to reach this position and that would cost me tremendously.} f6 21. f4 fxe5 22. dxe5 Bc5+ 23. Kg2 g5 $2 {Black basically gets a lost position after this.} 24. f5 (24. Ne4 $1 Be7 25. f5 {is probably even more effective.}) 24... Rxe5 25. Bxg5 Nh6 26. Bf4 Ree8 27. Qf3 Bd6 28. Rae1 $2 {This move is played completely against the spirit of the position. White should be trying to attack and attack fast!!} (28. Bxd6 $1 Qxd6 29. g5 Nf7 30. Qh5+ Kg8 31. f6 {would have inspired resignation. There is no way to defend against White's surging attack.} Qe5) 28... Bxf4 29. Qxf4 Kg8 $2 (29... Rxe1 30. Rxe1 d4 {was Black's best chance.}) 30. Rxe8 Rxe8 31. h3 $4 { Sometimes, we all make decisions that we fail to comprehend during the aftermath. This is one of those.} ({I had seen the very strong and logical} 31. g5 Nf7 32. g6 Nh6 33. f6 {which again wins on the spot. How I failed to play this out remains an unsolved mystery to date.}) 31... d4 32. g5 Nf7 33. g6 Nh6 34. Kh2 $2 {The final blunder that throws away a direct win.} (34. f6 $1 Qc6+ 35. Kh2 Qc2+ 36. Rf2 Qxg6 37. Qxc7 $3 {continues to give Black problems to solve. That last move in the sequence was particularly hard to find for me personally.}) 34... Qd6 35. Qxd6 cxd6 36. Rd1 (36. f6 gxf6 37. Rxf6 d5 38. Rd6 Re5) 36... Re5 37. Rxd4 Nxf5 38. Nxf5 Rxf5 39. Rxd6 Kf8 40. Kg3 Rg5+ 41. Kf4 Rg2 42. Rd7 Rxb2 43. h4 Rxa2 44. Rf7+ Kg8 45. Rxb7 Ra4+ 46. Kf5 Ra5+ 1/2-1/2
The match eventually ended 2-2 after wins are traded on board 3 and 4.

In Round 10, we were paired against the formidable Peruvian team which boasts 2600 GMs on all 4 boards. Before the round, Qian Yun, Jingyao and I all boast chances to make norm results but we all required to get a result in this critical match. For me personally, a win would clinch the norm, while a draw would give me another chance to make the norm in the final round. Of course, a win with Black against a strong 2630 was anything but easy but I did get rather decent chances to complicate the position: A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "41st World Chess Olympiad"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.12"] [Round "10"] [White "Emilio Cordova"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A15"] [WhiteElo "2629"] [BlackElo "2433"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "rn1qr1k1/1p3p1p/p1pb1np1/P2p4/NPPP2b1/1Q2PB2/1B1N2PP/2R2RK1 b - - 0 17"] [PlyCount "48"] {I had played reasonable from an innocuous opening and had managed to obtain a dynamic position which suited my needs just fine. However, I again failed to appreciate the spirit of the position. Here, I played} 17... Nbd7 $2 {which is a normal developmental move but again, I should have played something more direct and try to pose immediate problems for White to solve.} ({With this in mind, I should have at least tried to calculate} 17... Qc7 18. h3 Bh2+ 19. Kh1 Nh5 $1 {Here, White has the resource} 20. Rf2 $1 (20. Bxg4 Ng3+ 21. Kxh2 Nxf1+ $19) 20... Bg3 21. Bxg4 (21. Re2 $2 Bxf3 22. Nxf3 dxc4 23. Rxc4 Nd7 {is fine for Black.}) (21. Rff1 Bh2 22. Rf2 Bg3 {repeats}) 21... Bxf2 22. Bxh5 Bxe3 $1 23. Re1 Nd7 $1 24. Rxe3 Qf4 {with a complex position.}) 18. h3 Bf5 19. cxd5 cxd5 20. Nc5 Nxc5 21. dxc5 Be5 22. Bxe5 Rxe5 23. c6 bxc6 (23... Qe7 24. cxb7 Qxb7) 24. Rxc6 Qe7 25. Qc3 {The position is roughly equal here, with the weaknesses on e3 and a6 cancelling out each other. However, White's position is slightly the more pleasant in view of his control over the c-file which at this point is more important and also the slightly weakened Black kingside. Black had to tread with extreme caution to maintain equilibrum and I was sadly not up to the task.} Re6 $2 (25... Ne8 $1 {, threatening to capture on e3 was best. Here,} 26. Qc5 (26. Kf2 Nd6 {is dangerous for White.}) 26... Bd3 27. Qxe7 Rxe7 28. Rfc1 Bb5 29. Rb6 Rxe3 30. Bxd5 Rd8 {and Black has solved most of his problems.}) 26. Rxe6 Qxe6 27. Nb3 $1 {From here, it is excruciating pain all the way to the finish.....} Re8 28. Nc5 Qd6 (28... Qxe3+ 29. Qxe3 Rxe3 30. Rd1 Bc8 31. Bxd5) 29. Qd4 Ne4 $2 30. Bxe4 Bxe4 31. Qf6 Qc7 32. Nxa6 Qa7 33. Nc5 Rb8 34. h4 h5 35. Qe5 Bf5 36. Rxf5 gxf5 37. Nd7 Rd8 38. Nf6+ Kf8 39. Nxh5 d4 40. Qh8+ Ke7 41. Qf6+ 1-0
We were smashed 4 to nothing against the South American powerhouse, arguably a well deserved result in view of how superior our opponents were in all aspects of the game.

The final round was all about trying to secure a good ranking and we duly secured a 3-1 victory against Cyprus, with Qianyun and Jing Yao again delivering the goods. I personally finished with 6/10 and a decent 2500 TPR. It could have been a lot better of course, and I was hovering around the 2600 TPR mark until the final few rounds. It was of course disappointing to have come so close to my final GM norm but given how inactive I was the entire year and the number of games where I fell into severe time trouble, the result was entirely satisfactory and in a way predictable. This also meant that I would have to continue waiting for my final GM norm though.

I had played in many team events and I could safely say that this particular team had the best chemistry and team spirit throughout. Leslie was an incredible captain and really took care of every single non-playing aspect and I am personally very grateful for his leadership. All in all, despite the slightly anti climatic finish to the event, the team played well above expectations and I think we put up a good show for the local community.

Funnily enough, the one prize I won from the Olympiad was an all expenses paid trip to Qatar to take part in the Qatar Masters Open. I didn't score too well from that event but I did play some interesting games and I will put up my analysis due time....