Shakmaty Bereolos - The Official Chess Site of Peter Bereolos

2/3/07 - Land of the Sky

The 20th edition of the Land of the Sky tournament was held in Asheville, North Carolina last weekend. Attendance was up after a drop off the past couple of years, although the playing hall was not yet back to full capacity.

For the third year in a row, I played the Friday evening round. My tournament got off to a chaotic start with Black against John Curcuru 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bf4 Bg7 4. Nc3 c5 5. d5 d6 6. Qd2 b5!? Going straight towards complications. 6...Qa5 or 6...0-0 were solid alternatives.

7. Nxb5 Ne4 8. Qd3 Bxb2? Black has many possibilities here, but this one looks like a mistake. ...Bf5 is another idea may or may not be preceded by a queen check 8... Qa5+ 9. c3 Bf5 10. g4 Bxf5 11. Qxe4 Qxb5 or 8... Bf5 9. Qa3 Nd7 both look fine for Black. Another idea is 8... a6 9. Qxe4 axb5 10. c3 b4 with good compensation 9. Qxe4 We both missed the simple line 9. Rb1 Qa5+ 10. Nd2 Nxd2 (10... Qxa2 11. Qxe4) 11. Bxd2 Qxa2 12. c4 with dual threats of Nc7+ and Qc2 9... Bxa1 9... Qa5+ 10. Bd2 (10. Nd2 Qxb5 11. Bxd6 O-O 12. Qxe7 is also good for White) 10... Qxb5 11. e3 Qb7 12. Rb1 leaves Black in an awkward pin 10. Nxd6+ Kf8 11. Bh6+ Bg7 Afterwards, we thought this was a blunder, but White still has compensation after 11... Kg8 12. Nxc8 (12. Nxf7 Kxf7 13. Ng5+ Kg8 is no longer effective for White) 12... Qxc8 13. Qxe7 12. Nxf7 Kxf7? This is clearly wrong although Black is still worse after 12... Qa5+ 13. Kd1 Bxh6 14. Nxh6 13. Ng5+ Kg8 14. Bxg7 Not 14. d6? Bc3+ 15. Kd1 Qxd6+ 14... Bf5 I had overlooked the line 14... Kxg7 15. Qe5+ Kg8 16. Qxh8+ Kxh8 17. Nf7+ Kg7 18. Nxd8+- and now had to scramble to find something to keep my head above water. The only plus for me was that he was already down to 11 minutes to reach move 35, but I gave up most of that edge here and only left myself with 14 minutes. 14... Qa5+ 15. Kd1 Kxg7 16. Qxe7+ Kh6 17. Nf7+ is a disaster; I didn't think 14... e6 15. Bxh8 Qxg5 16. Bb2 gave me much either 15. Qe5 Nd7 16. Qc3 e5 17. Bh6 I expected the more straightforward 17. dxe6 Qxg5 18. f4 Qe7 19. Bxh8 Bxe6, when Black will remain at least a pawn down, but White's pieces might be a little awkward in the time scramble. 17... Nf6 18. e4?! Opening the a2-g8 diagonal first with 18. d6 should be winning. Now I'm still worse, but have chances in the time scramble after 18...Ng4. We both were under 5 minutes here and the game began to really degenerate a few moves later. We both had to make around 12 moves in a minute and eventually his flag fell in a busted position with my clock at 10 seconds. Neither of us had close to a complete scoresheet, so I expected the TD to say put an hour on each side and continue, but my opponent protested the Bronstein mode on the FIDE clock saying he didn't get his 5 seconds of delay time. This is wrong since the Bronstein mode (setting 20) adds 5 seconds after each move, so if you have 1 second left, your clock will read 6 seconds and you do indeed have your 5 seconds. The TD also said that he had been counting moves from when I stopped recording and that we had passed 35 moves, but I was unable to reconstruct that later, I reached the position where his flag fell at move 32. As I said, neither of us was keeping score, so I don't see how either of us could make a time forfeit claim. Finally, my opponent put a Chronos out with 5 seconds for him and 10 for me (I don't know why he didn't think I was entitled to an additional 5 seconds) and said he was going to try to flag me. I decided to just continue playing since the TD was there and had already ruled that we each got an hour, plus the position on the board was a simple win for me at that point. We played 3 more moves during which I spent 3 seconds and he resigned. There weren't any hard feelings afterwards and we had a friendly post mortem.

In round 2, I played one of my Tennessee Tempo teammates for the 4th time in 5 games. This time I was White against Jerry Wheeler. I didn't play very ambitiously in the opening, but thought I had a normal White advantage after 13. Ne5

13...Nb4 He can't take 13... Nxe5 14. dxe5 Nh5 15. Nxd5 (or 15. Bh2 threatening both g4 and Nxd5), but I figured he'd go 13... e6 14. Nxd7 Nxd7 and White has the bishop pair. After the text his position gets a little loose. 14. Nxd7 Nxd7 15. Bb5 Red8? This is a mistake, he had to go15... Qe6, but I thought White had a nice edge after either 16. Qg4 f5 17. Qf3 or 16. a3 Nc6 17. Qf3 16. a3 e5 17. axb4 I thought this was a little cleaner than17. dxe5 Nc5 18. axb4 Nb3 but 19. Bg5 Nxc1 20. Rxc1 looks pretty convincing 17... exf4 18. Nxd5 Rxc1+ 19. Rxc1 Qd6 20. Nxf4 Qxb4 and I converted the extra pawn without much difficulty.

Land of the Sky has a single demo board for Board 1 and I seem to land there a lot. This year marked the seventh and eighth time I played there. Compare that to the Chicago Open, which has 4 demo boards, but somehow I've only managed to make it to one of those once in 11 years. So I figured I would be playing GM Sergey Kudrin on Board 1 in Round 3 as I had a couple of years ago. Instead, I had to wait until the next morning since I ended up on Board 2 this round with Black against IM Tim Taylor. In this game, I unwittingly found myself in an opening debate. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f4 O-O 6. Nf3 Na6 7. Be2 e5 8. fxe5 dxe5

9. Nxe5 Taylor recently wrote a book advocating the 4 Pawns Attack for White. In it he takes exception to some of the analysis in GM Vaisser's book on the same topic. In particular, in the diagram position, Vaisser's main line is 9. d5 which is most often played, most notably in the game Lautier-Kasparov, Amsterdam 1995. Taylor suggests that the whole Black system is a bluff and White is just winning a pawn, although I don't recall any time that Kasparov played a variation that he thought was inferior. So where do I stand on this debate? This was the 6th time the diagram position has appeared in one of my games. Four times I was White and played 9. d5, the other two times I was Black and my opponent played 9. Nxe5 9...c5 10. Be3 cxd4 This was a finger slip by me instead of the immediate10... Nb4. In 1994 I won a game against Harold Henderson with 10...Qe7, but I was not satisfied with the outcome of the opening in that game. 11. Bxd4 Nb4 I was a bit surprised when I checked the bookstore after the game to see that this move is given an !? in Vaisser's book. Taylor gives his game against Maitikozian as an example of 11...Ng4. I also looked at the line 11... Re8 12. O-O Nxe4 13. Nxe4 Bxe5 (13... Bf5 is an improvement, but White is much better) 14. Bxe5 Qxd1 15. Nf6+ and White wins. Taylor dismisses the text because of 12. Bc5 and here I came up with a novelty 12...Qa5!? Taylor gives 12... Qxd1+ 13. Rxd1 Re8 14. Bxb4 Rxe5 15. Rd8+ Re8 16. Rxe8+ Nxe8 17. Kf2 with a clear advantage to Black. I have to concur with that, so I came up with an exchange sacrifice where Black gets the two bishops and a pawn and perhaps some structural advantages. 13. Bxf8 Bxf8 14. Nf3 Nxe4 15. O-O Black's point is that White is hard pressed to avoid perpetual check after 15. Nxe4 Nc2+ 16. Kf2 Qb6+ 17. c5 (17. Nd4 Nxd4; 17. Kg3 Qc7+ 18. Kf2 Qb6+) 17... Bxc5+ 18. Nxc5 Qxc5+ 19. Nd4 Nxd4 and Black has ample compensation for the exchange. 15... Qb6+ trying to pick up the b-pawn in some lines. Black could also go for a superior pawn structure with 15... Nxc3 16. bxc3 Nc6 16. Nd4 Nc2 17. Nxe4 Nxd4 not 17... Nxa1 18. Nf6+ Kg7 19. Nd5 Qxb2 20. Qxa1 and d4 is still defended. 18. Kh1 Bf5 18... Qxb2 19. Rb1 Qxe2 20. Qxd4 looked good for White, I decided I needed to get my pieces out 19. c5 a bit of a strange move, Black wants to take on b2, I expected 19. Ng3 or 19. Bd3 19... Qxb2 20. Nd6?? I guess this was the point of the previous move, but it just drops a piece 20... Bxd6 21. cxd6 Nxe2 22. Rf2 Re8 avoiding 22...Ng3+ 23. Kg1 and White is back in the game. Now, White is just lost although he struggled on for another 45 moves.

The next morning I got my appointment with GM Kudrin with Black on Board 1. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. Bb3 a6 7. O-O O-O 8. Nbd2 Ba7 9. Nc4 Ne7 10. Bg5 Ng6 11. Nh4

11...Nxh4 11... Bg4 is probably the most solid move here, it was played by Karpov when he faced this line against Nunn in 1982. I considered 11... Kh8 in order to be able to recapture on g6 with the f-pawn, but didn't really like 12. Qf3, probably due to bad memories of doubled f-pawns in this opening, but Black is fine with the trick 12... h6 13. Bxf6 Nxh4 12. Bxh4 h6 13. Ne3 g5 14. Bg3 Bxe3 15. fxe3 Be6 16. Qe2 16. Qf3 Bxb3 17. Qxf6 Qxf6 18. Rxf6 Bc2 is good for Black 16... Bxb3 17. axb3 Nd7 18. b4 Kg7 19. Ra5 Qe7 20. c4 f6 21. Be1 Rfe8 22. Bc3 Rac8 23. Rfa1 Qe6 24. h3 Kg6 25. Rf1 Qe7 26. Re1 Qe6 27. d4 Qe7 28. d5 White's last two move surprised me a bit. He only had around 10 minutes to reach move 35 and Black doesn't have any active plan. So I figured he would just continue to probe until then and not make any committal decisions until after the time control. 28...Rf8 29. Rf1 Kg7 30. c5 Nb8 31. Kh2 b6 32. cxb6 cxb6 33. Raa1 b5 the White bishop has become a bad piece. 34. Qg4 Rc7 35. h4 Qd7 36. Rf5 Qf7 37. Kg1 h5 38. Qe2 Black is going to seal the kingside with 38... g4 and probably has a symbolic advantage, but there isn't a clear way to make progress. a6 is weak and White can keep the f5 break under control, so I accepted his draw offer [1/2:1/2]

There was a bit of controversy in the pairings before the final round. There were 4 players with 3.5 points: GM Ivanov, GM Kudrin, myself, and Mike Klein (who, BTW, is one of only two players to play in all twenty Land of the Sky tournaments). The expected pairings were Bereolos-Ivanov and Kudrin-Klein. However, the computer spit out Kudrin-Ivanov and Bereolos-Klein. Naturally, this did not sit well with the two GMs. The issue was colors, Mike and I had each had two in a row of White and Black, so we had to get our due colors. Pairing us against the GMs would mean that they would each repeat their colors from round 4, so the computer switched them. However, since the rating differences involved in the switch were more than 200 points, the switch was rejected so we ended up with the expected pairings after all and I was back on the demo board as White versus GM Alexander Ivanov. We had a bit of discussion before starting on the differences between time delay and Bronstein mode. Our conclusion was that they were the same although you might not get your five seconds on move one. Experimenting with my digital clocks seems to show that the FIDE clock gives you the 5 seconds on move one, while the Saitek does not. Of course, this can be corrected on the Saitek by adding 5 seconds to the initial starting time. 1. d4 b6 2. c4 Bb7 3. Nc3 e6 4. e4 Bb4 5. Bd3 f5 6. Qh5+ g6 7. Qe2 Nf6 8. Bg5 fxe4 In a deja vu with my game a couple of weeks earlier against IM Burnett, Ivanov also spent an hour on the clock to reach this position

9. Bxe4 Bxe4 He played this quickly, whereas Ron went into the tank for another half hour before sacrificing his queen with 9...Nxe4!? 10. Bxf6 Qxf6 11. Qxe4 Nc6 12. Nf3 Bxc3+ 13. bxc3 O-O 14. O-O Qf5 15. Qxf5 If White is going to accede to the exchange of queens, a better way was 15. Rfe1 Qxe4 16. Rxe4 Na5 17. Ne5, but White should probably just retreat with 15. Qe2 or 15. Qe3 as the ending is slightly favorable to Black because of White's weakened pawn structure15... Rxf5 16. Nd2 Already a passive move, but 16. Rfe1 Raf8 and White probably has to do something awkward like 17. Re2 to free the knight to guard c4. 16...e5 17. d5 Na5 18. Rfe1 d6 19. Re4 Raf8 20. f3 Rf4 21. Rxf4 Rxf4 22. g3 Rf7 23. Kf2 g5 24. Ke3 h5 25. h3 Kf8 26. Rh1 Rg7 27. Rg1 Ke7 28. Kd3 Rf7 29. Rf1 a6 30. Rh1 Nb7 31. h4 Nc5+ 32. Ke3 Rg7 33. hxg5 Rxg5 34. Rh3 Kf7 35. f4 35. Ne4 Nxe4 36. Kxe4 (36. fxe4) seems like a simpler road to the draw. 35... Rg4 36. Nf3 White should still have good drawing chances by activating his pieces with 36. fxe5 dxe5 37. Rxh5 Rxg3+ 38. Kf2 Rxc3 39. Rh7+ Kf6 40. Rxc7 36... Kf6 37. Nh2?!37. fxe5+ looks like an improved version of the previous note 37... Rg8 38. Nf3 exf4+ 39. gxf4 Re8+ 40. Kd2 Ne4+ 40...Re4 picking up both c4 and f4 looks much stronger, when Black should have good winning chances 41. Kc2 Kf5 42. Rh4 Ng3 43. Kd3 Kf6 44. Nd4 Rh8 45. Ke3 b5 46. cxb5 axb5 47. Kf3 I think this move shows that I wasn't really understanding the position. The White rook has the kingside under control, so the White king should head the other way 47. Kd3 Nf5 48. Nxf5 Kxf5 49. c4 47... Nf5 48. Nxf5 Kxf5 49. Ke3 Kg6 50. Kf3? The losing move. Again, it was imperative to head the other way with 50. Kd3 or 50. c4 bxc4 51. Kd4 50... Ra8 51. Rh2 Ra3 52. Rg2+ Kf6 53. Kg3 Rxc3+ 54. Kh4 Rf3 I played this out much longer than normal because he only had a couple of minutes left on his clock but the result was never in doubt. 55. Rc2 Rxf4+ 56. Kxh5 Rc4 57. Rd2 Ke5 58. Kg6 Rc5 59. Kf7 Rxd5 60. Re2+ Kd4 61. Rd2+ Kc5 62. Rc2+ Kb6 63. Ke6 Rh5 64. Rb2 Rh6+ 65. Kd7 c5 66. a4 b4 67. a5+ Kxa5 68. Kc6 Ka4 69. Kd5 b3 70. Rg2 Ka3 71. Rg8 b2 72. Ra8+ Kb3 [0:1] So, a pretty good tournament ratingwise, but none of the other games went my way to even get me a small prize.