I'm a bit behind in my tournament reporting, I've played 3 events in the past month. The first, was the traditional Chicago Open over Memorial Day weekend. This year's event, however, was quite untraditional. The big change was that it was only a 6-round event, with no games on Memorial Day. Apparently, despite 14 years at the same location and dates, the Continental Chess Association was unable to obtain the main ballroom for Memorial Day. Unlike the past few years, this event was not a US Championship qualifier. Apparently, America's Foundation for Chess is undecided about the Championship system for 2007. These changes, I think especially the date/format change, seemed to really knock down attendance. The prizes were left only at the minimum guarantees, and only 13 GMs were in the Open section.
Personally, I was looking for massive improvement on my horrible -2 score from last year. In round 1, I had the White pieces versus Robert Loncarevic. In a much more competitive game than the one we played in the Colias Memorial, I won a pawn in the middle game, and we entered a bishop ending after 36...Kxc6
There are some slight technical difficulties for White because there doesn't seem to be any entry squares in the Black position, but I think the combination of the extra, passed a-pawn, and the number of Black pawns on light squares, makes the position a win for White 37. Ke3 Kd5 38. Bg2+ Kc5 39. Bf3 g6 Stopping Bh5, but putting another pawn on the light squares. 39... f6 40. exf6 gxf6 doesn't seem to defend either since White creates another passed pawn with g4, h4, g5, so the best is probably 39... Bb5 40. Bh5 Be8, but then White uses the a-pawn as a decoy with 41. a4 and the king should get to d4 after which the c-pawn should soon fall. 40. h4 h5 Better was 40... Bb5 but White should still win with 41. h5 Ba4 42. hxg6 fxg6 43. Be4. After the text it is pretty easy. 41. g4 hxg4 42. Bxg4 Bb5 43. Bf3 Be8 44. Be4 Now the Black king can't get in so White is ready to march his own king to f6. 44..Bd7 45. Kf3 Kb5 46. Bc2 Simple chess, there is no reason to allow Ka4. 46...Ka5 I guess still trying to break through a4 starting with ...Ba4, but now the Black king has gone too far afield, so the White king reverses direction and wins the c-pawn, 47. Ke3 Bb5 48. Kd4 Kb6 49. Bd1 [1:0]
After that good start, I got Black against GM Wojtkiewicz. Unfortunately, I played an opening variation that has been totally discredited, and got a fairly busted position. However, I kept fighting, and he had to find a study-like win in a piece up ending after 60. Bd6
He had spent a long time over his past few moves, placing the bishop on a3, b4, and c5 before finally settling on d6. 60... Kg7 61. Ke6 g5 Passive play is losing after 61... Kg8 62. Kf6 Kh7 63. Ba3 h5 64. Be7 Kh6 65. Ke5 62. Kxf5 gxh4 63. Ke6! I had calculated only 63. Kg4 h5+! (63... Kg6? 64. f5+ Kf6 65. Kf4 h3 66. Be5+ Kf7 67. Kg3+-) 64. Kxh4 Kg6= 63... h3 64. f5 a3 65. f6+ Kg6 65...Kh7 meets the same fate after 66. f7 a2 67. f8=Q a1=Q 68. Qf7+ 66. f7 a2 67. f8=Q a1=Q 68. Qf5+ [1:0] the Black king must walk into a skewer.
My only real clunker of a game was in Round 3 with White against John Bidwell. I misplayed the opening horribly as is evidenced by the location of my pieces after 14...h6
Here, I noticed 15. Nh7 Bd4+ would leave the knight a bit hung out to dry on h7, but this was certainly better than my move 15. Qh5?? Bd4+ and White loses a piece because 16. Kh1 Qxg5 exploits the back rank
I bounced back in the evening round with Black versus Batsai Tsenrendorj. In a Kings Indian, there were attacks on opposite wings, but I got through first after 24...b4
25. Nb5 On 25. Na2 (or 25.Ne2) the Black attack crashes through with 25...Rxa2+! 26. Kxa2 Qa8+; 25. Nb1 c6 with the idea Qa5 also gives Black a big attack. After the text, I found a nice switchback to exploit the knight's lack of squares 25...Qb8 26. Qxb4 Bd7 27. c6 Rxf2+ 28. Kc3 and the White king wasn't long for the world.
The next morning I had White against Pappu Murthy. The most interesting position in the game came after 11...Bb7
It is apparent that White should move his queen, but where to? I didn't pay significant consideration to 12. Qf5, which Salov used to beat Lautier in 1999. It just looked odd to place the queen there, but it does have the advantage of guarding the e-pawn. Instead, I mostly focused on sacrificing the e-pawn with 12. Qh5!? Nb4 13. O-O Bxe4 White has many possibilities here with quick development with Bf4 and Re1. Ne5 piling up on f7 is also in the works and a timely b6-b7 push can be quite disruptive. However, it all seemed a bit unclear to me over the board (and I didn't realize it wasn't a sacrifice as Black hasn't recovered b6 yet) and instead opted for the meek 12. Qd1 after 12... Qxb6 Black was at least equal and the game quickly petered out to a draw.
In the final round, I had a rather blunder filled game with Black against Lester van Meter. The play early in the game wasn't spectacular, but the mistakes really came in buckets after 29... Qd7
30. Nc3? I had been looking at lines like 30. Qc7 fxe4 31. fxe4 (31. Nxe4 Nxd5) 31... Ne2+ 32. Kf2 Nd4 33. Nc3. He decided to prevent Ne2, and I forgot that my previous move carried another threat 30... Bf8? Black just wins after 30... Qa7+ 31. Kf1 Bd7 32. Qc7 Qe3 33. Qxd7 Qxc3 which of course I realized after I moved. 31. Bc7? Again 31. Qc7 was expected, but it looks like Black is holding with a timely sacrifice on h3, such as the computer line 31...h5 32. Nc4 fxe4 33. fxe4 Nxh3+ 34. gxh3 Qxh331... Qe7 32. Bb6? missing the threat entirely. Better was 32. g3 with the idea 32...Nxh3+ 33. Kg2 Ng5 34. Bxd6 and White should be OK, but instead 32....Qg5 still seems to give Black a big attack. Now, however, 32...Qg5 was completely devastating.
With the exception of the 3rd round, I think I played pretty well. I managed to avoid the time pressure that plagued me in the FIDE invitational. The only games I got down a little close were the two Black games I won and in both cases, the position was well in control.
In the final round, I had White versus IM Milos Scekic. I played rather sloppily in the middlegame and he had a pretty clear advantage, but I managed to find the drawing opportunity when it presented itself. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d5 6. Nf3 c6 7. Qb3 Be7 8. O-O b6 9. Rd1 Bb7 10. Qc2 Na6 10... Nbd7 11. b3 Rc8 12. e4 dxe4 13. Nxe4 Nxe4 14. Qxe4 is one of the main lines of the Catalan with an extra move for each side. 11. b3 11. a3 and 11. e4 dxc4 12. a3 also deserve consideration 11... c5 12. dxc5 White should probably maintain the tension if he seeks an advantage. 12... bxc5 13. cxd5 exd5 14. Bb2 Qc8 15. Ng5
playing for tricks, but it really isn't warranted by the position. It was better to keep developing with 15. Rac1 15... Nb4 16. Qb1 h6 17. a3 d4 18. Nce4 Nbd5 19. Nxf6+ Nxf6 20. Ne4 Re8 21. b4 Rb8 I had a long think after this move and realized the position had gotten away from me a bit .
22. Nxf6+ 22. Qc2 Nxe4 23. Bxe4 Bxe4 24. Qxe4 cxb4 25. axb4 Rxb4 26. Bxd4 Bf6 and no matter how White squirms he will lose material. 22... Bxf6 23. Bxb7 Qxb7 24. Qd3 a5 25. Rac1 cxb4 26. axb4 axb4 27. Rc4 b3 28. Bxd4 b2 29. Rb1 Rbd8 I expected 29... Bxd4 30. Rxd4 now at least I get a passed pawn myself, which could be a distraction. 30. e3 Bxd4 31. exd4 Re4?!
now it's his turn to play for tactical tricks, but after the text, I manage to rid myself of the bone on b2. 32. Qd2 32. Rxb2?? Re1+ 32... Rde8 32... Rb8 33. Rc2 33. Rb4 Qd5 34. R4xb2 Rxd4 35. Qc2 g6 36. Rb8 Rxb8 37. Rxb8+ Kh7 38. Rb1 h5 39. h4 Rd2 40. Qb3 Qf5 41. Rf1 Re2 42. Qb7 A slightly strange move, with the idea of Kg2 and Qf3, but the immediate 42. Kg2 carries out that plan. Perhaps a bit of fatigue at the end of a long tournament. Now I have to take a small bit of care. 42... g5 43. hxg5 h4 44. Qb1 Qxb1 44... Re4 45. Re1; 44... Rc2 45. Qd1 45. Rxb1 hxg3 46. fxg3 Re5 [½:½]
In Round 8, I had Black against Canadian IM Eric Lawson. I didn't have a very comfortable position in the middle game, but managed to defend for a draw. 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 e6 3. e4 c5 4. d5 d6 5. Nc3 Be7 6. Nf3 O-O For some reason, I thought I had prepared 6... Nxd5 7. Nxd5 Bxg5 8. Nxg5 exd5 9. Qxd5 but at the board it didn't look right. When I later looked at my notes, I didn't find any hint of that line though. 7. Bf4 exd5 another option is to close the center with 7... e5 8. exd5 Bg4 I also considered 8... Bf5, but decided to exchange since I had less space. 9. h3 Bxf3 10. Qxf3 Nbd7 11. Be2 Ne8 12. O-O f5 Here was the last chance to throw in 12... a6 13. a4 he now finds an interesting plan to try to exploit that omission.
13. Bb5!? Nc7 14. Rfe1 a6 15. Bxd7 Qxd7 16. Na4! Rae8 pretty much forced since 16... Qxa4 17. Rxe7 is tremendous for White 17. Nb6 Qd8 I didn't like 17... Qb5 18. Rxe7 (18. Qb3 Qxb3 19. axb3 Kf7) 18... Rxe7 (18... Qxb6) 19. Bxd6 18. Nc4 b5 19. Na5 Qd7 20. c4 Bf6
Somewhere in the last couple of moves, White's advantage has evaporated, we looked at a lot of different plans for White in the post mortem, but it seemed that most of the time Black could hold it together. 21. Qb3 Rxe1+ 22. Rxe1 Re8 23. Rxe8+ Qxe8 24. Qe3 24. Bxd6? Qe1+ 25. Kh2 Qxa5 24... Qxe3 25. fxe3 bxc4 25... Ne8 26. b3 Kf7 is more passive 26. Nxc4 Nxd5 27. Bxd6 Nb4
finding this move was my reason for capturing on move 25. 28. Bxc5 Nxa2 29. Kf2 Nc1 30. Bd4 Kf7 31. Ke1 Nd3+ 32. Ke2 Bxd4 32... Nb4 is also equal. I thought the outside majority might give me a minuscule advantage in the knight ending, but the position is too simple for either side to make anything. 33. exd4 Nf4+ 34. Kf3 Nd5 35. Ne5+ Ke6 36. Nd3 a5 37. Nc5+ Kf6 38. Nb7 a4 39. Nc5 Nb6 40. h4 g5 41. hxg5+ [½:½]
My Round 7 game versus Mexican IM Alfonso Almeida Saenz was my most frustrating game. I again played well, but consumed loads of time on the clock and blundered away a good position as my clock ran out. 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 e6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. Qc2 Nd7 8. e4 dxe4 9. Qxe4 Bb4 10. Bd3 g6 11. O-O O-O 12. Ne5 I played this without much thought, mistakenly thinking I was following one of my games against Leonard Dickerson. However, in that game, Leonard had fianchettoed the dark squared bishop. 12. c5 is more logical. Developing a rook to e1 or d1 also makes sense. 12... Rd8 13. Qe3 Here, I realized things weren't the same as the Dickerson game and had a long think. I came up with a good move, preventing Black's freeing ideas, but it cost me a good chunk of time (15 minutes). Instead, 13. Rad1 c5 or 13. Rfe1 Nxe5 14. dxe5 Qf5 are fine for Black 13... Bf8 13... c5 14. Nxd7 14. Rad1 Qg7 15. c5 I sunk another 15 minutes here, but this was not efficiently used time.
15... Nf6 I had been evaluating the consequences of 15... Bxc5 16. Nxf7!? but 16. Nxc6 is a simple move for a White advantage. 16. Rfe1 Bd7 17. Ne4 Nd5 18. Qg3 b6 19. Bb1 Be8 20. Nc4 Rab8 21. b3 Be7 22. Ned6 Bf6 23. Ne5 bxc5 24. dxc5 h5 25. Nxe8 Rxe8
26. Nd7 on 26. Nxc6 I didn't see a good followup after 26... Rbc8 but that should still be slightly better for White. 26... Rb4 27. Nxf6+ Qxf6 28. Qe5 Better is 28. Qd6 but I was getting uncomfortable with queens on with my growing time pressure. 28... Qe7 By the same logic, he wants to keep the queens on, but 28... Qxe5 29. Rxe5 Nc3 is a comfortable edge for Black 29. Rc1 Rg4 30. Be4 Rg5?! 30... Rd8 stopping Qd6 was about equal. 31. Qd6 Qf6 32. Qxc6 Rd8 33. Red1 Qf4 34. Rc4 Qg4 35. Rcd4 Kg7 36. g3 avoiding 36. Bxd5 Rgxd5 36... Qe2 37. Bxd5 Rgxd5 38. Rxd5 exd5
39. Rf1? the rook is completely passive here much better is 39. Rd4 stopping both h4 and d4 when White should be clearly better with his extra pawn. 39... h4 40. Qa4 d4 41. Kg2?? The final miserable time pressure move. The threats of h3 or pushing the d-pawn are difficult to cope with, the best try is probably 41. Qa5 when 41... h3 42. Qxd8 Qf3 43. Qxd4+ leads to perpetual check.; 41... Rd5 42. Qe1 may give some defensive chances, but 41...Re8 still leaves problems to solve. 41... h3+ [0:1]
In Round 6, I had Black against the veteran Chicago GM Dimitry Gurevich. I played a pretty good game, but again went down. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Na6 8. Re1 c6 9. Bf1 exd4 I previously had a loss and a draw against Dimitry with 9... Bg4 but as I stated in my notes to the game versus Goletiani, I had prepared this move for the tournament. 10. Nxd4 Ng4 11. h3 Qb6 12. hxg4 Qxd4 13. g5
The main theoretical move. Goletiani played 13. Qe2 against me here in the first round. 13... Qxd1 14. Rxd1 Be5 15. Be3 Nc5 16. Rac1 16. f3 was the expected move 16... a5 It seems that Black can also grab the pawn with 16... Bxc3 17. Rxc3 (17. Bxc5 Bxb2) 17... Nxe4 when it looks like White will have to exchange one of his bishops to regain the pawn 17. b3 f6 Again, Black could consider 17... Bxc3 18. Rxc3 (18. Bxc5 dxc5 19. Rxc3 a4) 18... Nxe4 19. Rcd3 Be6 (19... a4 20. f3 Ng3 21. Bf4 Nxf1 22. Kxf1 Be6) 20. f3 Ng3 21. Rxd6 Nf5 22. R6d3 Nxe3 23. Rxe3; 18. gxf6 Rxf6 19. f3 Be6 20. Ne2 Bf7 A bit of an awkward move, 20... Re8 is probably a little better, now he initiates a tactical sequence. 21. f4 Bb2 22. Bxc5 22. Rc2 Ba3 is fine for Black 22... Bxc1 I wasn't sure about 22... dxc5 23. e5 or 23. Rc2 Bd4+ 24. Kh2 but that also looks like Black should be OK 23. Bd4 Rxf4 24. Rxc1 Rxe4
A very unbalanced position has occurred. It is probably about equal. Black has a hard time penetrating with his rooks, but White lacks outposts for his minor pieces. 25. Bb2 Rae8 26. Rc2 Be6 27. Rd2 Bg4 28. Nd4 Rf8 29. Nc2 Re6 30. Bd4 a4 31. Bf2 axb3 32. axb3 Rfe8 33. Bg3 Rd8 34. Bf4 Kg7 35. g3 h6 36. Ne3
36...Bf3? I saw the variation 36... g5 37. Bxg5 hxg5 38. Nxg4 d5 which is equal, but decided that I didn't need to give up a pawn since my bishop now had a square. 37. Bh3 Rf6 38. Be5 [1:0]