Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Analysis of Utegaliyev - Goh from the Baku Olympiad - Life is tough!

***Addendum: The Rook & Bishop vs Rook ending at move 102 was covered specifically by Karsen Muller & Frank Lamprecht on page 301 of Fundamental Chess Endings. My annotations are slightly confusing there. What I meant to say was that in that specific position, the guiding principle is that the White king should stay on e1 and the rook should be ready to block on f1 whenever possible.

And so after 3 tournaments in Europe, I am back home and back to work. It was of course disappointing that I had failed to make my final GM norm but there were also some positives, the most important of which is that I am a lot wiser now and I think I know what to work on moving forward in order to fix the gaping holes in my chess knowledge. I will also have my highest rating to date although in all fairness, 2457 at the age of 33 is hardly impressive and is certainly nothing to shout about.  The truth is that when I'm on a fine streak, making a norm is entirely within the realms of possibility but I lack sufficient knowledge in certain types of position and I did not have the ability to react in unfamilar and strategically or tactically complex games.

In this and the next few posts, I will analyse the games which I felt to be most instructive. Which probably means there will be very few wins since I only have 1 really good result which most who followed the Olympiad might know by now.

The most painful game by far was probably the game against Utegaliyev, a 2513 untitled player from Kazakhstan. Just to provide some context - I had lost my previous game against a 2500 GM from Estonia and it was important for me to bounce back as fast as I could.

The game began well and I managed to outplay my opponent from the opening and was clearly better, if not winning, and blundered in time trouble at a critical juncture. After a topsy turvy middle game where my opponent somehow managed to hang on with very little time left, we reached a bishop and rook vs rook ending and the conclusion to the game was just, well, epic....

A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)
[Event "42nd Baku Olympiad"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.09.09"] [Round "7"] [White "Utegaliyev Azamat"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C03"] [WhiteElo "2513"] [BlackElo "2444"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "278"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Be7 4. Bd3 c5 5. dxc5 ({In yesterday's Inter-Professional games, IM Terry Toh continued with} 5. Ngf3 Nf6 6. exd5 { which is a quiet alternative to the main lines. Here, I went} exd5 $6 {hoping to enter a similar position to this game but White's specific move order prevented this possibility.} (6... Qxd5 $1 {is the mainline}) 7. dxc5 $1 a5 8. O-O O-O 9. a4 $1 Na6 10. Nb3 Bg4 $6 (10... Nxc5 {is probably fine for Black although its a little dull.}) 11. Be3 {and here, I blundered terribly with} Nd7 $4 12. Bxa6 Rxa6 13. Qxd5 {and White was clearly better in Terry Toh - Goh Wei Ming, Kevin, Inter-Pro Games 2016 although I somehow managed to win eventually. }) 5... Nf6 6. Qe2 O-O 7. Ngf3 a5 8. O-O Na6 9. exd5 {This allows a comfortable IQP for Black.} (9. e5 Nd7 10. c3 Naxc5 11. Bc2 b6 {was analysed in Sax - Goh, 2011 elsewhere on this blog.}) 9... exd5 10. Nb3 ({After the natural} 10. Re1 {, I had remembered John Watson's comment in Play the French 4 that} Re8 $1 {is the move, insisting on taking c5 with the knight and ensuring an active game.}) 10... a4 $1 {In my opinion, words are not able to describe just how important this move is to justify the viability of Black's set-up but I would try.} ({I had reached this position in a previous game with Sergei Tiviakov and was slowly but surely grounded after} 10... Nxc5 $2 11. Be3 Nce4 12. Nbd4 Bc5 13. h3 Re8 14. c3 Qb6 (14... a4 $1 {was probably Black's best chance.}) 15. Rfe1 h6 16. Bb5 Re7 17. a4 $1 $14 {and White had gotten everything he could possibly want from the opening. After the game, I asked the Dutch super GM where I went wrong and he simply replied that in this particular pawn structure, it is very important not to allow White to achieve the set-up with Bb5-a4. In this particular position, it is clear that: 1) Black has no satisfactory way of developing his light square bishop and a move like ...Bd7 is only helping White who generally wants to exchange pieces in an IQP position; 2) Black's typical counterplay on the queenside is absolutely stymied. The b2 pawn is always safe and there is no a5-a4-a3, breaking up the queenside pawn structure. For what it's worth, I will show the rest of the game with light comments.} Qc7 (17... Nd6 18. Qd3 $1 Nxb5 19. Qxb5 Qxb5 20. axb5 $14) (17... Bd7 $6 18. Bxd7 Nxd7 19. Nf5 $1 $14 {illustrates the dangers of leaving the light squares unattended. The traditionally bad French bishop does cover important squares as well.}) 18. Nd2 Bd7 {I didn't see any other way to connect my rooks.} 19. Bxd7 Qxd7 20. N2b3 b6 21. Qb5 Qc7 22. Nf5 Re5 23. Nxc5 Nxc5 24. Nd4 $1 {At this stage, I was already feeling that I was on the way to becoming a victim of yet another of Tivi's positional masterclass.} Rae8 25. b4 $5 Ncd7 26. Qc6 Qxc6 27. Nxc6 R5e6 28. Nd4 Re4 29. bxa5 bxa5 30. Nb3 Nb6 31. Nd2 $1 R4e6 32. Reb1 $1 {Beautiful piece co-ordination. Black could only watch and wait for the execution that is to come.} Nfd7 33. Rb5 Rc8 34. Bd4 $1 $16 Re2 35. Nb3 Re6 36. Rxa5 Ra8 37. Rxa8+ Nxa8 38. Nc5 Nxc5 39. Bxc5 Ra6 40. Kf1 Nc7 41. a5 Nb5 42. Bb4 d4 43. c4 Na7 44. Bc5 Nc6 45. Bb6 Kf8 46. Ke2 Ke7 47. Kd3 Nb4+ 48. Ke4 Ke6 49. Ra4 Nc6 50. Bxd4 f5+ 51. Kd3 g5 52. Bb6 Kd6 53. Kc3 Ne5 54. Ra2 Nd7 55. Kb4 Kc6 56. Re2 {1-0 (56) Tiviakov,S (2644)-Goh,W (2441) Petaling Jaya 2013}) 11. Nbd4 Nxc5 {Now a move like Bb5 no longer makes any sense as it will be loose on that square. Black has fully equalised at this stage and has active counterplay.} 12. h3 (12. Nf5 $2 {looks attractive but I had seen that after} Bxf5 13. Bxf5 a3 $1 14. b3 Nfe4 {followed by ...Re8 and ...Bf6, Black gets very nice counterplay.}) (12. Be3 Nfe4 13. a3 Bf6 14. Rad1 {and here, both} Nd6 ({or} 14... Bd7 {look fine for Black.})) 12... Nfe4 13. Be3 Bf6 14. a3 Re8 15. Bb5 Bd7 16. Rad1 ({The exchange of light square bishops is fine now as after} 16. Bxd7 Qxd7 {, Black has ideas such as ... Ne4-d6-c4, where it cannot be chased away without compromising the White pawn structure.}) 16... Nd6 $1 {An all-purpose and rather thematic move. Black covers all the critical light squares such as b5, c4 and f5, opens up the e-file and allows possibilities such as Nce4.} 17. c3 {I am not certain whether White has seen my next few moves at this point but I would be very surprised if he had allowed me to weaken his pawn structure voluntarily. Having said that, I couldn't see anything better than this natural move.} Bxb5 18. Nxb5 Nf5 $1 $15 {White has no way to avoid ...Nxe3 fe3 which weakens his structure in the kingside substantially. Black's dark square bishop could prove to be an important piece and Black's knight was about to hop to the useful e4 square, eyeing the g3 square.} 19. Nfd4 Nxe3 20. fxe3 Bg5 $6 { A human but inaccurate move.} (20... Ne4 21. Rf3 Be5 $1 $17 {was more to the point}) 21. Nf5 $2 (21. Nc2 $1 {is a surprising defensive resource. White continues with Rf3 and Nbd4 and suddenly White's position is ultra solid.}) 21... Re5 $2 (21... Ne4 $1 {prevents the note to White's next move, and threatens ...g6 followed by ...Ng3.}) 22. Qg4 $2 {This is an exceptionally tempting move as it keeps ideas such as h4 or Nxg7 but in fact Black seizes the advantage by force.} (22. Nbd6 $1 {with the idea} g6 23. Nh6+ $3 Bxh6 24. Nxf7 Bxe3+ 25. Kh1 Qe7 26. Nxe5 Qxe5 27. Rde1 Re8 28. Qf3 $1 {is ridiculously complicated. Black may have won 2 pieces for the rook but I don't see a convenient way for Black to untangle himself.}) 22... Ne4 $1 {I took a long time to find this important move but it was worth it as Black had now seized a clear edge. My immediate threat was ...g6 followed by h5 when White's position simply collapses.} 23. Nbd4 g6 24. h4 gxf5 $1 {It looks ridiculous to open up the g-file but I had calculated that Black holds in all lines.} 25. Rxf5 h5 $1 26. Qf3 Rxf5 27. Nxf5 Bxh4 28. Rf1 Bg5 29. Qxh5 {I had navigated safely through the first set of chaos but now in severe time trouble, I played an absolute howler.} Qb6 $4 ({In a moment of madness, I had thought that after} 29... Ra6 $1 30. Rf3 Rg6 31. Rh3 Bf6 32. Qh7+ Kf8 33. Qh8+ Bxh8 34. Rxh8+ { was mate but of course Black could simply play} Rg8 {and it would have been all over.}) 30. Ne7+ $1 {I would have surely seen this had I given more thought to my previous move. Now White has at least a draw.} Bxe7 31. Qxf7+ Kh8 32. Qh5+ Kg8 33. Qxd5+ Kh8 34. Qxe4 Bf6 35. Rf3 Kg7 36. Qg4+ Kf7 $4 (36... Kf8 $1 37. Qg6 Ra6 38. g4 Qd6 $1 39. g5 Qd1+ 40. Kg2 Qe2+ 41. Rf2 Qg4+ {would have forced a draw.}) 37. Qd7+ $4 {The position is incredibly complex and almost impossible to navigate in time trouble.} (37. Qh5+ $1 Ke7 38. Qh7+ Ke6 39. Rxf6+ $1 $18 {would have won immediately.}) 37... Kg6 $4 (37... Kg8 $1 $11) 38. Rg3+ $4 (38. Qg4+ $1 $18) 38... Bg5 39. Qd3+ Kf6 40. Rf3+ Kg7 41. Qd7+ Kh8 { Time control reached and both players get some time to catch their breath. Incredibly, Black had somehow stayed alive despite the vulnerability of the Black king and 42.Rh3+ can now be met with 42...Bh6. I took a while to come to terms with the position and realised that there is no clear way for White to continue the attack.} 42. Kh1 {White took a long time to make this move and my guess was this was more out of desperation than anything. White probably wasn't able to find anything useful.} Bxe3 43. Qd5 Re8 44. Qd7 Ra8 45. Qd5 { White is content with a draw but I had no intention of finishing the game this early.} Re8 46. Qd7 Rd8 $1 {No draw!} 47. Qxa4 Bh6 48. Rh3 Qe6 $1 {Black's pieces are slowly but surely getting coordinated.} 49. Rh5 Qg6 50. Rh3 Kh7 51. Qf4 Qe6 52. Qh4 Rd2 53. b4 Re2 ({GM Bong suggested} 53... b5 $1 {, locking up White's queenside majority before searching for a concrete breakthrough.}) 54. Kh2 Re4 55. Qh5 Qf6 56. Qf3 Qe5+ {Now both sides were back in time trouble and my opponent showed remarkable resilience not to collapse in this tricky position.} 57. Qg3 Qe6 58. Qc7+ Kg6 59. Qg3+ Rg4 60. Qd3+ Kg7 61. Qd1 Qe5+ 62. g3 Re4 {I felt I was almost winning here but annoyingly, White continued to find only moves. I have to say I was very impressed with my opponent's resourcefulness.} 63. Qd7+ Kg6 64. Qd3 $1 Qf5 65. Kg2 $1 Be3 66. Qc2 Bg5 67. Rh1 $1 {I somehow managed to get myself in a mess down the b1-g6 diagonal and Black was now forced to change queens.} Re3 68. Qxf5+ Kxf5 69. Rh7 {The infamous rook bishop vs rook ending!} Rxc3 70. Rxb7 Rxa3 71. Kh3 Bf6 72. Rb8 Rb3 73. b5 Be5 74. Rf8+ Ke4 75. Rg8 Rxb5 76. Kh4 Kf5 77. g4+ $6 {This doesn't throw away the draw but it makes life more difficult.} ({It was better to keep the pawn on g3 when I was not sure how I could even win the pawn successfully. } 77. Kh3) 77... Kf6 78. Rf8+ Kg6 79. Rf5 Bf6+ 80. Kg3 Rb4 81. Kf3 Bg5 82. Kg3 Rb3+ 83. Rf3 Bh4+ 84. Kg2 Rb2+ 85. Kh3 Be7 86. Rd3 Kg5 87. Rd5+ Kf4 88. Rf5+ Ke4 89. Rf1 Rb3+ 90. Kg2 Bd6 91. Re1+ Kf4 92. Rf1+ Kxg4 {This is of course a drawn ending but I didn't play 5.5 hours with the intention of giving away easy draws. There is no need to give any specific details on how to play this endgame as my opponent actually managed to demonstrate the 2 theoretical drawing methods. This will be clearer in the coming moves.} 93. Rf2 Bc5 94. Rf7 Rb2+ 95. Kf1 Be3 96. Ke1 Bf4 97. Rd7 Kf3 98. Kd1 Rh2 99. Rd3+ Be3 100. Rd8 Rg2 101. Rd7 Ke4 102. Ke1 Bd4 {We have reached the first critical position and here, the guiding principle is that the defending side should move his king towards the corner with the square with the opposite color of the bishop. In this case, White should keep his king on e1 and be ready to block with his rook on f1.} 103. Kf1 $4 {A huge huge error and a great opportunity for me to finally finish the game off. Unfortunately, I did not grasp this lifeline....} (103. Rf7 {, or other rook moves would have been drawn.}) 103... Rf2+ $1 104. Ke1 Ke3 105. Rd8 (105. Rxd4 Rh2 {was a little trap but one I did not expect my opponent to fall into.}) 105... Rf3 106. Kd1 Kd3 107. Ke1 Rg3 $4 {Yet another time trouble howler.} ({I had not realised that White was virtually in zugzwang here and he had to keep his rook on the d-file to prevent ...Bc3+ and mate. Hence, the simple} 107... Rf7 108. Rd6 ({or} 108. Rd5 Re7+ 109. Kd1 Rg7 $19) 108... Rg7 $1 {would have forced instant resignation.}) 108. Rf8 $1 Rg1+ 109. Rf1 Rg2 110. Rf8 Rg7 111. Rf5 Ra7 112. Kf1 Rg7 113. Ke1 Ke3 114. Kd1 Rg2 115. Rf8 Kd3 116. Ke1 Rg1+ 117. Rf1 Rg8 118. Rf7 Be3 119. Rd7+ Ke4 120. Ke2 Rg2+ 121. Kd1 Ra2 122. Rd8 $4 ({As mentioned earlier, it is important to keep the king on the e1 square.} 122. Ke1 $1) 122... Bd4 123. Ke1 Ke3 $4 {Throwing away the win a 2nd time.} (123... Kd3 $1 124. Kf1 Rf2+ 125. Ke1 Rf7 { transposes to the win above.}) 124. Kf1 Rf2+ 125. Kg1 Rd2 126. Rf8 Be5 127. Re8 Kf4 128. Kf1 Ra2 129. Rf8+ Ke4 130. Rf2 Ra1+ 131. Kg2 Bd4 132. Re2+ Be3 133. Kg3 Ra8 134. Rg2 Rg8+ 135. Kh3 {The Cochrane, or 7th rank defence is the most straight forward way to defend this ending and here I was finally resigned to the draw.} Bg5 136. Kg3 Bf4+ 137. Kh3 Ra8 138. Kg4 Rg8+ 139. Kh3 Rxg2 1/2-1/2

After the game, I was completely exhausted but while waiting for the bus to bring me back to the hotel, I suddenly had an epiphany of some sort. Of course, I had seen a particular game (live!) 8 years ago at the Dresden Olympiad and marvelled at the technique that Black demonstrated in that game:

A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)
[Event "Dresden ol (Men) 38th"] [Site "Dresden"] [Date "2008.11.17"] [Round "5"] [White "Leko, Peter"] [Black "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B42"] [WhiteElo "2747"] [BlackElo "2786"] [Annotator "KGWm8"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/7R/6k1/6b1/8/r7/6K1 w - - 0 119"] [PlyCount "18"] [EventDate "2008.11.13"] [EventType "team-swiss"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "GER"] [SourceTitle "CBM 128"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2009.01.28"] [WhiteTeam "Hungary"] [BlackTeam "Ukraine"] [WhiteTeamCountry "HUN"] [BlackTeamCountry "UKR"] 119. Rh2 $1 {The Cochrane or 7th rank defence!} Ra1+ 120. Kf2 Kf4 121. Rh8 Ra2+ 122. Ke1 Re2+ 123. Kf1 Kg3 124. Rd8 $4 ({This position is actually very similar to my game and it was easy for me to find} 124. Rf8 $3 Re3 125. Kg1 $1 {which would have held.}) 124... Re3 125. Rg8 {This is mre or less the same position as my game and Chucky demonstrated the win nicely.} Re7 $1 126. Rg5 Rh7 $1 127. Ke1 Rd7 $1 0-1

Yep, chess is a really cruel, cruel game....


  1. Thanks for the in-depth analysis and notes, Wei Ming. Excellent stuff. - O.G.U.

  2. thanks for the inspiration to study the Rook and Bishop vs Rook endgame mainly! :)