An unexamined life is not worth living.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

BC Chess Championship 2008 - quick overview

Stephen Wright has kindly posted the full games over here, so below is a quick overview of my games, in their critical moments. As you can see, I started with two good wins, but was then struggling to score a win until the last round, which did help me to 'save face'.

Round 1. Jiganchine - MacKay (1:0)

After 16... Kxe7 (variation)


White got a great attacking position in the Sicilian (which happens to me quite rarely), and Black had to give up a piece just to not get mated. Here is one of the "sacrificial" attacks:

17. Rxe5+!! dxe5 18. Bc5+ Kf6 (18... Ke8 19. Qd6) 19.Qf3+ Kg5 20. Be3+ Kh4 21. Qg4#

Given the strength of my opponent in this game (an FM who was once a member of the Scotch national team) - this was probably one of my best games ever.

Round 2. Davies - Jiganchine (0-1)

After 23. Bc4


I stopped liking the 'dynamics' of the game - White was about to play Ne3, and neither d5 nor f5 would be possible for me. So it seemed like I must try to break up White's bind on light squares and open up some files to expose his king.

So I came up with the pawn break that in the end worked out to my advantage

23... d5! 24. exd5 f5! The pressure on the f and b files was soon to much for white to bear, and after Nf5-d6xc4, the b3 pawn fell, and then the White king got under a mating attack. Perhaps this was my most satisfying game with the Sveshnikov so far.


Round 3. Jiganchine - Patterson (0-1)

After 35... f4


In in an unclear position I made a couple of aggressive moves, but my opponent discovered a hole in my plot. While I though my queen was putting pressure on Black king and pawns, it turns out that Bd8 is about to win my queen, and h3 is about to threaten checkmate. 36. Nd4 was an interesting suggestion from the computer (with the idea of after exd4 playing Re1, Re6 and going for the perpetual), I played 36.f3 (so that I can play Qg4 after Bd8) and after 36... h3 my king soon got burned (although there were a couple of chances to make things complicated along the way).

Round 4. Berry - Jiganchine (1/2:1/2)

After 10. e4 Bh7


Jonathan's move order in the opening allowed me to get the bishop to f5, so not being to happy about his position, he played 11. cxd5 and offered a draw. I accepted since getting a bit more rest before the evening game seemed like a good thing.

Round 5. Jiganchine - Wu (0:1)

The most important event in this game happened outside the board - the clock was setup "with delay" instead of "with increment", so in a complex endgame I made several crucial decisions in a bit of a panic, as my time appeared to be running away quite fast. That was of course my own fault - I should have paid more attention to how time was getting incremented before it got too late.

After 33... Nb6


34. Kf3 was still enough to keep the game balanced. Instead I overlooked the fact that Black can play ... f3 himself. Several moves later I was hopelessly tied up:

34. R5a3?! f3+! 35. Kd3 Rxa3 36. bxa3?! Re8 Now even if there is a draw, I played a few more "natural" moves and lost.

Round 6. Pechisker - Jiganchine (1:0)

After 14.Be2?


Apparently 14... Nxe5 15. Bxe5 Bf5+ 16. e4 Rxe5 was winning quite easily. White cannot take on e5 or on f5 because then a piece on either d2 or e2 falls with grave consequences. I was already very short on time, so I simplified into what turned out to be a difficult endgame with

14...Bxd2? 15. Nxd2 Rxd2+?  16.Kxd2 Nb3+ 17. Kc3 Nxa1 18. Rxa1 and soon lost. Perhaps that was my most frustrating loss in this tournament.


Round 7. Jiganchine - McLaren (1:0)

After 24. Nd6


It may seem that the position is unclear because of Black's advanced pawns and two bishops, but actually Whites' pressure on the queenside is more important. White won the b7 pawn, and soon - the game.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

British Columbia Chess Championship 2008

Last weekend Stephen Wright directed the main round robin tournament of the year in our province - "the BC Closed". Jonathan Berry had a great run and won the first place with 5.5/7. This year I was both invited, and actually able to accept. I already posted an extensive collection of fragments from the 2001 championship - the last one in which I had competed. I also played in 2000. My play in each championship was probably characteristic of my chess strength and weaknesses at the time:

2000: 2.5/9 (-4=5)

2001: 6.5/9 (+5=3-1)

2008: 3.5/7 (+3-3=1)

In 2000 it was the first time I played in a stronger round robin, so I was unable to see a way to find advantage in any game at all. Opponents were not making the blunders I had been used to from playing U2000 rated guys, so I was not sure what to do about it (having fairly passive openings did not help either). In 2001 I was in a good shape, there were a couple of less strong players (who helped by playing a risky opening as black against me), so I collected all the points I could at the time, and then maybe a bit more when Jonathan Berry tried to win a drawn position so that he could catch up with Milicevic.

This year I was not in a terribly good shape. I want give a more detailed self-analysis of each game, but here are some general notes on what went well, and what did not

-my opening preparation was sufficient for this tournament - in two games my opponents knew more theory about the opening; in one game - I did, but overall each position I got out of the opening was playable, and in 2 cases it was plain better, borderline winning. In a way though, the opening preparation came at a high price - the night and morning before each game I was trying to prepare major opening systems that I had never played before. By the time I was playing the second game of the day, I was regularly having strong headache, and that was not helping. A more important conclusion is that I am more happy now about where my repertoir is going, since the 3 wins I did score - mostly came out of complex middlegames in the lines that are pretty important to my current repertoir.

- My tactical vision was reasonable, although I did miss a simple tactical shot against Alfred, and ended up losing the game.

- There was several complex endgames, and that's pretty much where I lost all 3 of my games. The fundamental problem however was not the endgame understanding, but awful time management. Going into endgames and feeling pretty optimistic, I was spending lots of time trying to find better continuations, failing, and going for simple options which were turning out to be inferior.

The conclusion is not very surprising - I need to be able to play faster, and to do that - I need to make progress in all parts of my game so that the same moves take less effort.

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