Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Canadian Open Survey Results

The quantitative results of the 2007 Canadian Open Player Survey can be found here.

A total of 150 players, including 32 elite players, completed the survey (or portions thereof) after the last round of the Canadian Open. This represents over 50% of the total players who participated (approx 280). Over the coming weeks, I hope to have all of the qualitative comments posted as well. Thanks to everyone who filled out the survey.

Tim Bouma on behalf of the 2007 Organizing Committee.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Chessbase: Chinese dragon wins Canadian Open has published an illustrated article on GM Bu's victory in the 2007 Canadian Open and his adventures in Ottawa. Read the full article here.

Photo: GM Bu on Parliament Hill (Ottawa River and Musueum of Civilization in background)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Round 10: Final Standings and Wrap-up

Final Standings in the 2007 Canadian Open Chess Championship are available from the Chief Arbiter, Jonathan Berry, at:

At the top, we had 1. Bu, 8/10, 2-6. Tomas Krnan (Canada), Kamil Miton (Poland), Chanda Sandipan (India), Bator Sambuev (Russia), and Nigel Short (England). All are Grandmasters (GM's) except Krnan (International Master). These five were half a point off the pace with 7.5/10 scores, worth $1,500 CAD each.

The group at 7 points had no fewer than 15 players in it, all titled (8 GM's, 3 IM's and 4 FM's). This should provide the reader with an idea of the depth of the field!

Class prize winners and complete tournament listings should be available at the above link or at before too long.

I should also mention that the event produced one additional IM norm for a Canadian (other than Noritsyn, whose IM norm (his 4th apparently, and so a bonus one actually) was reported in the Round 9 blog entries. British Columbia Junior Bindi Cheng garnered his 1st IM norm by virtue of his last round win over Montreal's FM Lefong Hua - congratulations!

It's been a long week for many people (myself included), but I hope that you have found the blog entertaining and informative - I tried to capture the flavour of the live commentary as much as possible (less humour perhaps, but next time you may simply have to make the trip to Ottawa!). You'll have to forgive my early formatting woes and I promised it improved a bit as things went on. Next time I'll make it even better!

Any comments/questions can be directed to That's it for now - have a great summer!

Round 10: Full Circle

In the end, it was pre-tournament favourite, GM Xiangzhi Bu of China, (who outrated England's Nigel Short by a mere 2 FIDE rating points on the new July 2007 list), who made it to the winner's podium in clear and undefeated first place. With a final score of 8/10, and a $5,000 CAD first prize, he began the event with a win on Board 1, and finished it the same way this morning against uncompromising Swiss GM Vadim Milov:

Milov - Bu: Slav Defence, 4.e3

This was Bu's 4th consecutive Slav, playing with either colour, although here Milov played a solid line which dissuades an early ...dxc4.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Be4!?

An attempt to provoke f2-f3, after which White's N/h4 will lack a natural retreat square. It is likely to take on g6 in any case, as planned, so it is worth mentioning that f2-f3 also softens up White's K-side, and the dark squares in particular.

7.f3 Bg6 8.Qb3 Qc7 9.Bd2 Be7 10.cxd5 cxd5

Not fearing the open c-file, Black plays to provide a more active post for his N/b8, reserving d7 for the King's knight if needed.

11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.0–0–0 Nc6 13.Kb1 a6 14.Rc1 Nd7


Now that Black's knight has left the K-side, White offers a pawn. Bu was not likely tempted, but 15...Rxh4?! (15...Bxh4? 16.Be1! wins) 16.Rxh4 Bxh4 17.e4!, and 17...Nxd4?! 18.Qa4! x-rays along the 4th rank hitting N/d4 and B/h4 (after a subsequenct exd5). With Black's bishop and King position so loose, I am certain Bu did not consider capturing for very long.

15...Rc8 16.g4 Rxh4 17.Rxh4 Bxh4

With a White pawn on g4 blocking the 4th rank, and an extra move in development, Bu now decided to test Milov's idea.

18.f4 Bf6 19.f5!?

Consistent. White is trying to open lines while Black's King is still uncastled.

19...Na5 20.Qc2 gxf5 21.gxf5 Nc4 22.Bxc4 Qxc4 23.fxe6 fxe6 24.b3!?

Move order is important here. 24.Qg6+ Kd8 25.b3 is also possible, but White's choice keeps some flexibility with the White Queen's choice of entry. Black is under a bit of pressure, but the pawn sac still has a specualative look to it.

24...Qb4!? 25.Qh7 Rc6! 26.Qh5+ Kd8 27.Be1 Nb6 28.Qh2

Sometimes the best defence is liquidation. Black's last forces a series of exchanges while trying to make the most of that extra pawn.
29.Qb8+ Kd7 30.Nxa4 Rxc1+ 31.Kxc1 Qxe1+ 32.Kc2 Qe2+ 33.Kb1 Qd3+ 34.Kb2 Qb5!
Bravely playing for the win. Many players would succumb to nerves and acquiesce to a draw by perpetual, but Black still wants to be shown why his pawn shouldn't count for something.
My initial suggestion of 35.Nc5+!, (which looks pretty crushing), is met by the mundane 35...Qxc5, winning. Oops, guess I better change that to 35.Nc5+?? I did mention that this game was played (and analyzed) at 10 am, after a week long of 6 pm starts. Well, I need some excuse for hanging pieces, right?
35...Be7! 36.Qxg7 Qe2+ 37.Kb1 Qd3+ 38.Kb2 Qxe3 39.Nc5+ Kc6 40.Nxb7?!
This turns out poorly, but Black is already quite a bit better if this doesn't work. 40.Qxe7 Qxd4+, and 41...Qxc5 certainly looks like no picnic for White.
40...Qf2+ 41.Kb1?
It appears that 41.Kc3! may be a better try, but Black can always try 41...Qe1+ and 42...Qb4, leading to a Queen endgame with an extra pawn, and perhaps more importantly two central passers. White may find a draw, but it looks to be a very depressing task.
41...Qf5+! 42.Kb2 Qf6! 43.Na5+ Kb5 0–1.
At least another pawn is dropping, and Queens are coming off. Another fine and controlled win by the 2007 Canadian Open Chess Champion.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Canadian Open: Group Photo of Invited Players

Group Photo of 2007 Canadian Open Invited Players

Back Row (l-r): GM Victor Mikhalevski, GM Suat Atalik, GM David Howell, GM Valeriy Aveskulov, GM Tomas Likavsky, GM Xiangzhi Bu, GM Nigel D. Short, GM Mark Bluvshtein, GM Frank De La Paz Perdomo
Front Row (l-r):GM Vadim Milov,GM Arkady Vul, IM Ekaterina Atalik, GM Sergey Tiviakov, GM Abhijit Kunte, GM Chanda Sandipan
Absent: GM Kamil Miton, GM Bator Sambuev, GM Andrey V. Rychagov, GM Alex Yermolinsky, GM Hoang Thong Tu, GM Anton Shomoev, GM Sipke Ernst, GM Borislav Ivkov

GM Xiangzhi Bu wins the Canadian Open

GM Xiangzhi Bu (8.0 points) claims first prize in the Canadian Open.
Photo: Bu (left) is presented with the Maurice Smith Trophy by Hal Bond, President of the Chess Federation of Canada.

In second with 7.5 points: IM Tomas Krnan of Canada, GM Kamil Miton of Poland, GM Chanda Sandipan of India , GM Bator Sambuev of Russia, and GM Nigel Short of England

Final standings are available here.

Round 10 games can be viewed at Monroi or Junior Chess (DGT Chesstheatre).

PGN files, courtesy Monroi, can be downloaded here.

Photos after Round 10 and the closing ceremony are available here.

Round 10 underway

Round 10 of the Canadian Open is underway. Live games from Monroi are available here. Photos taken shortly before and at the beginning of Round 10 are available here:

Photo: GM Kamil Miton and GM Chanda Sandipan on Board 2

Round 9: Other Key Results and Comments

The Board 1 matchup between GM's Bu and Miton featured the identical opening to Bu's win over Atalik from Round 8. Miton played 13...Bxc3, capturing what looked like a "hot pawn", instead of Atalik's 13...Ba3+, but this may have been a case where using Fritz, Rybka, or some other silicon oracle, came in handy. Indeed after the cool 16...a5!, it was tough to find anything convincing for White, despite the risky-looking position of Black's King. Bu tried a couple of different discovered check sequences, but ultimately settled for a threefold repetition.

Bu - Miton: Slav Defence

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.f3 c5 8.e4 cxd4 9.exf5 Bb4 10.Be3!? dxc3 11.Qxd8+ Kxd8 12.0–0–0+ Ke7 13.bxc3 Bxc3!? 14.Bc5+ Ke8 15.Nxc4 Nbd7 16.Ba3 a5! 17.Nd6+ Ke7 18.Nc8+ Ke8 19.Nd6+ Ke7 20.fxe6 fxe6 21.Nf5+ Kf7 22.Nd6+ Ke7 23.Nc8+ Kf7 24.Nd6+ Ke7 25.Nf5+ Kf7 26.Nd6+ Ke7 27.Nf5+ Kf7 ½–½.

If this defensive idea holds for Black, I will have to downgrade 10.Be3! to 10.Be3!?, but I suspect we may not have seen the end of this line yet (well, probably in this tournament). Regardless, it is still a pretty cool move!


GM Milov scored an important win with Black against former leader GM Suat Atalik of Turkey, so he faces top seed, GM Bu, tomorrow on Board 1:

Atalik - Milov: King's Indian

1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.e4 d6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nge2 0–0 7.0–0 Nh5 8.Bc2 e5 9.d5 Ne7 10.a4 c5 11.f4 exf4 12.Nxf4 Nf6 13.Nd3 Ng4 14.h3 Bd4+ 15.Kh1 Ne3 16.Bxe3 Bxe3 17.Qf3 Bh6 18.Qg3 f5 19.e5 dxe5 20.Qxe5 Bg7 21.Qe2 b6 22.Rae1 Bf6 23.Nf4 Kh8 24.Rf3 Bd7 25.Re3 Nc8 26.Ne6 Bxe6 27.dxe6 Ne7 28.Rd3 Qb8 29.Rd7 Qg3 30.Nd5 Rae8 31.Qd1 Nxd5 32.cxd5 Re7 33.Rxe7 Bxe7 34.Qd2 Rd8 35.Re3 Qf4 36.g3 Qf1+ 37.Kh2 f4 38.gxf4 Qxf4+ 39.Kg2 Rxd5 40.Qxd5 Qxe3 41.Qd7 Qe2+ 42.Kg3 Qe3+ 43.Kg2 Qg5+ 44.Kf3 Kg7 45.Qxa7 Qf6+ 46.Ke2 Qxe6+ 47.Kd1 Kh6 48.Qc7 Qd5+ 49.Ke2 Bg5 0–1.


The other big win on the top boards went to English GM Nigel Short, who took the full point with Black against Ottawa's IM Tom O'Donnell. Short was apparently quite pleased to not make it "six in a row", referring to his long drawing streak since starting the event with 3-0. With a win in the final round, he will cinch a minimum of equal-3rd, depending on the results on the top two boards between the four players on 7 points.

O'Donnell - Short: Nimzo-Indian

1.d4!? Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 b6 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 Bb7 7.Nf3

Not the sharpest line. 7.Bg5 is the hot theory here, but Tom has only recently made the switch from a lifetime of 1.e4 to 1.d4. I joked with him after this game, pointing out that his e-pawn stayed on e2 for nearly the entire game, and he actually ended the game with 35.e3 - so the e-pawn has gone from a star with top billing to a completely minor side show! :-)

7...d6 8.g3 c5 9.dxc5 bxc5 10.Bg2 a5 11.0–0 a4

Gaining space on the Q-side. Initially I thought that White should not have allowed Black to clamp down like this, but it turns out that Tom has a specific idea in mind.

12.Rd1 Ra6!? 13.b4 axb3 14.Qxb3 Bc6 15.a4 Qc7 16.Bd2!? 0–0 17.Be1 Nbd7 18.a5

So White is simply playing to pester Black with the passed a-pawn, and use its annoying presence as a (hopeful) distraction to certain Black plans of action. I wasn't fully convinced that Black couldn't eventually round it up (by playing ...N/d7-b8-c6, say), but that will take some time, which may in turn give White time to make counterplay elsewhere. My intuition sensed a small plus for Black, with his central pawn advantage.

18...Rfa8 19.Ra3 h6 20.h3 R8a7!? 21.g4?!

This seemed out of character for Tom's style, and I speculated if a time shortage may have been responsible for his decision to "do something active". Nigel had spoken briefly to me on one of my errands to the playing room for .pgn updates, and suggested that "winning on time" might figure into his plans for winning today's game.
It turns out that Tom was, in fact, somewhat short of time, but that his real reason for playing actively had more to do with the book, Chess for Tigers, which advocates randomizing positions against significantly higher-rated opponents if you feel that playing your own game is going to simply be bound to failure. Interesting idea!?
Both Tom and Nigel were present in the commentary room after the end of their game, and we were fortunate to share some opinions on these matters. Nigel was actually most concerned about Tom finding a way to "do nothing" in a constructive fashion, and leave it to Black to find a convincing plan to improve his position and play for a win. He was also very quick to point out that there are very few players in the world who can do nothing constuctively, so to speak, and that it was a real talent! He also made the witty observation that contrary to what has been written in several chess books, he felt that "Having no plan is far superior to having a bad plan!" Several books (and I agree that I have seen them as well) advocate the opposite, saying that a bad plan is better than no plan at all. In Nigel's opinion, no plan will not necessarily worsen one's position, whereas a bad plan is usually labelled bad because it creates some kind of damage. In this sense, it was unfortunate that Tom decided upon the plan (ultimately bad) of advancing his g-pawn. Now Nigel had something concrete to focus on!

21...Nf8 22.Qe3 e5 23.g5 hxg5 24.Nxg5 Bxg2 25.Kxg2 Ng6

All foreseen since move 21. Black aims to exploit the weakened f4 and h4 squares.

26.Rb3 Ra8 27.Rdb1 R6a7 28.f3 Nf4+ 29.Kh2 Re8!?

Another interesting psychological moment. Black could immediately bear down on the weak h3-pawn with 29...Qc8, say, but as Nigel pointed out, White would undoubtedly be quite prepared for such a direct threat. Instead, Black feints with a useful move - for example, on the reasonable try, 30.Bg3, Black simply takes on a5, and now 31.Bxf4, eliminating the powerful N/f4, loses the e2-pawn after 31...exf4 opens up the e-file. With time ticking, Nigel's move is a much tougher one to meet, and Tom admitted to running out of ideas here. He wasn't particularly satisfied with the move he chose.

30.Rb6 Qd7 31.Rb8 Ra8 32.Rxa8 Rxa8

So the h3-pawn is targeted after all, and with serious consequences.

33.h4 Nh7! 34.Qg1?

34.Qf2 is only slightly better, but Black wins minimum of a pawn, with a vastly superior position.

34...f6 35.e3

35...Nxg5! 0–1.
Unfortunately for White, only one Black knight can be taken at a time, so White is getting mated on h3.
According to Chief Arbiter, Jonathan Berry, Toronto teen, Nikolay Noritsyn of Canada has made a 9-game IM norm at this event, holding three GM's to draws (Miton, Milov and Rychagov, and losing only to GM Tiviakov). Congratulations on a great result!
Tomorrow's final round is at the ungodly hour of 10 am (those inconsiderate out-of-towners who have planes to catch, etc....I tell ya! :-))
It's been a great event, but like the players, I am going to need some sleep to have sufficient energy to wrap things up nicely....see you soon.

Pairings for Round 10

Pairings for Round 10 of the Canadian Open are now available. Alphabetical pairings are also available.

Round 10 begins at 10AM EDT on Sunday, July 15th.

The top 10 boards:

  1. GM Vadim Milov, GM Xiangzhi Bu
  2. GM Kamil Miton,GM Chanda Sandipan
  3. GM Nigel D. Short, GM Tomas Likavsky
  4. GM Valeriy Aveskulov,IM Tomas Krnan
  5. GM Mark Bluvshtein, GM Hoang Thong Tu
  6. GM Bator Sambuev, GM David Howell
  7. FM Anton Kovalyov, GM Frank De La Paz Perdomo
  8. IM Leonid Gerzhoy, GM Suat Atalik
  9. GM Sergey Tiviakov, Rick Lahaye
  10. GM Andrey V. Rychagov,Raja Panjwani

A brief closing ceremony will be held at 4PM EDT, after the completion of the round.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Round 9: More Gold for India

My last post relating to Round 8 gave a spectacular finish to Indian GM Kunte's win of that round, with the apochryphal shower of gold coins to memorialize the moment. Round 9's Game of the Day was another golden moment for India: GM Chanda Sandipan's fantastic attacking masterpiece vs. Dutch GM Sergey Tiviakov. It seemed to me that Black made one suspicious move (15...Qd7?!) and paid very dearly for it.

First, the overall standings at the top going into the final round:

With 7 points: GM Xiangzhi Bu (China), GM Sandipan , GM Kamil Miton (Poland), and GM Vadim Milov (Switzerland) With 6.5 points: GM's Nigel Short and David Howell (England), GM Mark Bluvshtein and IM Tomas Krnan (Canada), GM Frank De La Paz Perdomo (Cuba), GM Hoang Thong Tu (Vietnam), GM Tomas Likavsky (Slovakia), GM Bator Sambuev (Russia), FM Anton Kovalyov (Argentina, recently moved to Montreal), GM Valery Aveskulov (Ukraine), and IM Leonid Gerzhoy (Israel, now living in Toronto).

So four with 7, and 11 with 6.5. Still quite a horse race! The group with 6 points has 21 players.

So, back to my pick for game of the round:

Sandipan - Tiviakov: Queen's Indian, Pomar Gambit

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.0–0 0–0 7.d5!? exd5 8.Nh4 c6 9.cxd5 Nxd5

The more ambitious recapture. 9...cxd5 has also been played, but leads to more sterile positions.

10.Nf5 Nc7 11.e4 d5 12.Nc3 Bf6

The starting point for some important games. I had mentioned in the analysis room that this variation had been featured in one of the K-K matches, and after the actual Sandipan game was finished, FIDE Master (FM) Gordon Taylor, who was good enough to join me today in the commentary room, mentioned his recollection of a Marjanovic game (playing Black) that had a very similarly unfortunate result.

Well, it turns out that neither of us is getting any younger, but that our memories are still reasonably intact!

First of all, Kasparov - Karpov, Game 6, Moscow 1984/85. White played 13.Bf4 (before exchanging on d5), and after 13...Bc8 14.g4!? Nba6 15.Rc1 Bd7 16.Qd2 Nc5, and here White may have overplayed his hand with 17.e5 and after a few excellent defensive moves by Karpov, Black was very close to winning. The game ended in an exciting draw in 47 moves, but it was generally thought that Kasparov was a bit lucky to escape with a half point. On move 17. Bxc7 Qxc7 18.exd5 a5!? 19.dxc6 Bxc6 20.g5! looks a more interesting continuation.

So much for the K-K snippet, but where does Marjanovic come into this? Well, it turns out that a somewhat younger Gary Kasparov played 13.exd5 cxd5, and only then 14.Bf4 against GM Marjanov at the 1980 Malta Chess Olympiad. That game continued 14...Nba6 15.Re1 Qd7? (look familiar!) 16.Bh3 Kh8 (instead of Tiviakov's 16...Ne6).

After 17.Ne4 Bxb2 18.Ng5 Qc6 19.Ne7 Qf6 20.Nxh7! Qd4 21.Qh5 g6 22.Qh4 Bxa1 23.Nf6+ 1-0.

Gamescore and punctuation from Moscow Marathon, World Chess Championship 1984/85, Jonathan Speelman and Jon Tisdall. The authors also point out that both 15...Bc8 and 15...Nc5!? are improvements for Black. All this leads us to ask a few questions about what actually happened in the 9th round game today...

13.exd5 cxd5 14.Bf4 Nba6 15.Re1

So, not only was I correct in questioning 15...Qd7 here, but this is a key position of a stem Kasparov game from 27 years ago. I find it hard to believe that Tiviakov was unaware of the Marjanovic game, as he is a renowned expert on the Queen's Indian. Could it be that he simply thought 16...Ne6 was a strong and adequate improvement? Or maybe he really did forget this early theory? 15...Bc8 and 15...Nc5 both return the pawn advantage to White, but as the actual game demonstrated, it may simply be too dangerous to try to hold onto all the material.

15...Qd7?! 16.Bh3 Ne6 17.Ne4!

Using the same theme as in the Kasparov-Marjanovic game above, and undoubtedly Sandipan was aware of it. I made the comment as the game was unfolding the White was using an attacking mechanism that I once read Mikhail Tal referred to as "launching" - simply throw a bunch of units at the enemy King and try to build up a substantial numerical superiority. White's pieces are all headed at Black's King, while Black's defenders are either too far away or diverted elsewhere (in this case, one is busy capturing P/b2).

17...Bxb2 18.Rb1 Bc8 19.Ng5 Bf6 20.Qh5!

Five to three: White's forces are massing.

20...Bxg5 21.Bxg5 Re8

Pretty much forced to stop a nasty N/f5-e7+ in many lines.

22.Bf6!! gxf6 23.Qh6
Fantastic. White throws a bishop into the works simply to gain access to h6 and tie down the N/e6. The threat now is R/b1-d1-d4-g4+ and Qxf6 mate. Remarkably there seems to be very little for Black to do about this despite being up a piece and two pawns!
23...Nac5 24.Rbd1 Qb7
Tiviakov steps off the d-line, hoping to make ...N/c5-e4 work, but that defensive idea proves to have a beautiful refutation.
25.Rd4! Ne4
Everything is working for White. Knowing the Kasparov game undoubtedly gave White some confidence, but it has been Sandipan all the way since 15...Ne6, and the ? on Black's 15th ...Qd7 may be fully warranted. I haven't seen much in the way for improvements for Black along the way.
26...dxe4 27.Qxf6 Qc7
Sad, but there appears to be no way to even prevent checkmate! If 27...Bd7, blocking the d-file and hoping to escape with the King to d8, the bishop interferes with Black's defence of f7 and Black is mated with 28.Nh6+ and 29.Qxf7#. Likewise, the hopeless 27...h5 just loses differently: 28.Nh6+ Kh7 29.Bf5#.
28.Nh6+ Kf8 29.Qh8+ Ke7 30.Nf5# 1–0.
A painful loss for Tiviakov, but I would be curious to know whether he willingly entered this, expecting 16...Ne6 to be an improvement, and miscalculated something, or whether he simply forgot about the old Kasparov game. This gambit line, 7.d5!?, is not played that often, so either possibility is quite plausible.

2007 Canadian Open Bughouse Championship

The 2007 Canadian Open Bughouse Championship just concluded.

Tied for 1st were the teams of Nikita Kraiouchkine and Victor Plotkin;and Josh Guo and Tyler Longo

Tied for 3rd were the teams of Evan and Elliot Raymer;and Artem Samsonkin and Ahmad Abou-Nassif

Thanks to all the players who turned out.

Round 9 Standings

After Round 9 of the Canadian Open, the official results:

Photo: GM Chanda Sandipan on Board 3

With 7.0 points:
GM Xiangzhi Bu
GM Vadim Milov
GM Kamil Miton
GM Chanda Sandipan

With 6.5 points
GM Nigel D. Short
GM Valeriy Aveskulov
GM Mark Bluvshtein
GM David Howell
FM Anton Kovalyov
GM Tomas Likavsky
IM Tomas Krnan
GM Hoang Thong Tu
GM Bator Sambuev
GM Frank De La Paz Perdomo
IM Leonid Gerzhoy

Full results and standings can be found here:

Reminder: Gamescores wanted for Canbase II

A reminder:

Montreal's Hugh Brodie, the intrepid compiler of Canbase II, the leading database of Canadian chess games, will be visiting the 2007 Canadian Open Sunday. He has magnanimously offered to enter any and all games from the Open into his database, if he can be given scoresheets from the organizers sorted by round and board number. Have a game that you are particularly proud of, that you wish immortalized for downloadable posterity? The organizers will set up a drop-off point for scoresheets tomorrow.

Round 9 - this just in...

This just in ... after 9 rounds:

Leading with 7 points: GM Xiangzhi Bu , GM Chanda Sandipan, GM Kamil Miton and GM Vadim Milov.

In contention with 6.5 points: IM Tomas Krnan, GM Mark Bluvshtein, GM David Howell , GM Nigel Short , GM Frank De La Paz Perdomo , GM Hoang Thong Tu , GM Tomas Likavsky , GM Bator Sambuev , FM Anton Kovalyov , GM Valeriy Aveskulov and IM Leonid Gerzhoy

An extremely close race. Some games in Round 9 were phenomenal. Official results will follow shortly. Round 10 Finale is on Sunday, July 15 at 10am EDT. Follow the finale round courtesy Monroi realtime broadcast. It's not to be missed!

Noritsyn makes IM norm at the Canadian Open

According to Chief Arbiter, Jonathan Berry, Nikolay Noritsyn has made a 9-game IM norm at the 2007 Canadian Open. Congratulations!
Photo: Nikolay Noritsyn at the beginning of Round 9 of the Canadian Open.

Round 9 continues

The top board is drawn (Bu, Miton 1/2-1/2). Round 9 continues into a rainy Ottawa evening.
Other top board results:
Board 3: Chanda, Tiviakov (1-0)
Board 5: O'Donnell, Short (0-1)
Board 8: Rensch, Rychagov (1/2-1/2)

Please visit here for live coverage. Upon completion of Round 9, full results will be avaialable here.

Prize Fund for the Canadian Open

As we close in on the final round, here are the details on the prize fund:

Prize Fund for the Canadian Open

$26,500 CAD

Open: $5,000, $3,000, $2,000, $1,200, $700, $600, $500, $400

Class Prizes:
Under 2400: $1,200, $650 $450
Under 2200: $1,100, $600, $400
Under 2000: $1,000, $550, $350
Under 1800: $850 , $450, $300
Under 1600: $700, $350, $250
Unrated: $250, $150

Special Prizes
Top Junior: $400, $200
Top Woman: $400, $200
Top Veteran: (60 plus): $400, $200
Biggest Upset: $200
Top Canadian: $1,000, $500

Age prizes - determined as of July 7, 2007

Photos from Round 9

A few photos from the beginning of Round 9. More photos from the beginning of Round 9 are available here.

GM Xiangzhi Bu and GM Kamil Miton on Board 1

IM Tom O'Donnell and GM Nigel D. Short on Board 5

Jerry Xiong on Board 24

Norm Watch

There have been several norm possibilities, but at the moment we have identified these:

Bindi Cheng, 9-game IM norm with a draw today.

Nikolay Noritsyn, 9-game IM norm with a win today.

Liam Henry, possibility of IM norm with 1.5 or 2 points in the last two rounds.

Jonathan Tayar, possibility of 9-game IM norm if he wins his last two games, assuming strong opponent tomorrow.

Pairings for Round 9

Pairings for Round 9 of the Canadian Open are available here. Alphabetical pairings are also available.

Photos: Our sharply dressed Board 1 players: GM Xiangzhi Bu and GM Kamil Miton

Top 10 boards:
  1. GM Xiangzhi Bu, GM Kamil Miton
  2. GM Suat Atalik, GM Vadim Milov
  3. GM Chanda Sandipan, GM Sergey Tiviakov
  4. GM David Howell, GM Valeriy Aveskulov
  5. IM Tom O'Donnell, GM Nigel D. Short
  6. GM Frank De La Paz Perdomo,GM Victor Mikhalevski
  7. IM Leonid Gerzhoy, GM Anton Shomoev
  8. FM Daniel Rensch, GM Andrey V. Rychagov
  9. GM Sipke Ernst, IM Thomas Roussel-Roozmon
  10. IM Ekaterina Atalik, GM Mark Bluvshtein

Round 9 starts at 2PM EDT Today

A reminder that today's Round 9 begins at 2PM EDT today.

Round 10 on Sunday will begin at 10AM EDT.

Pairings will be available here approximately 11:30AM EDT

Round 8 Standings

GM Xiangzhi Bu and GM Kamil Miton lead the field with 6.5 points each.

In second with 6.0 points are: GM Vadim Milov, GM Sergey Tiviakov, GM Suat Atalik, GM Chanda Sandipan, GM Valeriy Aveskulov and GM David Howell.

Full standings may be found here.

Round 8: Shower of Gold

Finally, another combo by an Indian GM (yesterday was Chanda), Abjihit Kunte - Timon van Dijk (Netherlands). Position is after 29...Kf8.

Here White wrapped up with the spectacular 30.Qxg7+!! Kxg7 31.Bxh6+ Kg8 32.Rg5+ Kh8 33.Bg7+ Kg8 34.Bf6+ Kf8 35.Bh7!!, and now 35...Ne7, to guard against the mate on g8, allowed 36.Bg7 checkmate!

Very nice indeed - this is the kind of position some players might want to proudly wear on a T-shirt, for psychological reasons at the very least!

Well, time for some well-deserved rest. Two rounds to go, Saturday at 2 pm, and Sunday at 10 am (ugh)...should prove an exciting finish!

Round 8 Continued:

GM Bator Sambuev (Russia) - GM Nigel Short (England): Queen's Pawn Opening

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Bg4!? 3.Ne5 Bf5 4.Bf4 f6 5.Nf3 e6 6.e3 g5!? 7.Bg3 h5

It seemed to be a wacky theme this round for the GM's to push their K-side pawns up the board as fast as possible (compare to Milov - Chanda, Rd. 8). Here it seems reasonably sound, as White has to move his h-pawn to save his B/g3, and this more or less rules out castling short in the future.
It should also be noted that Short has played this unusual line at least once in the past against strong opposition, to wit, during his 1993 World Championship match in London, against none other than GM Gary Kasparov himself!

8.h3 Bd6 9.Bxd6 Qxd6 10.Bd3 Ne7! 11.Nc3 Nbc6 12.Qd2 0–0–0 13.0–0–0 Kb8 14.Kb1 g4
15.hxg4 hxg4 16.Nh4 Bxd3 17.Qxd3

Black is very slightly better here, due to the poorly placed White knight on h4. Short plays against this piece for the next few moves.

17...Qd7!? 18.g3 e5 19.Ne2 a6 20.c3 Qe6 21.Qc2 Rhg8

Ruling out any possibility of N/h4-g6, now that there is no longer an ...e5-e4 tempo against the White Queen.

22.Nc1 Rg5 23.Nb3 b6 24.Rhe1 Rd6!? 25.e4 dxe4 26.Qxe4 Qd7

The point of Black's 24th. Having anticipated a White e3-e4 break, Black wanted to ensure that his major piece battery along the d-file was headed by his rook and not his Queen.

27.Qh7 Qd8 28.Rd2 Rd7 29.Qe4 exd4 30.Red1 Rgd5 31.Nxd4 Nxd4 32.Rxd4 Rxd4 33.Rxd4 Rxd4 34.Qxd4 Qxd4 35.cxd4

This isolated pawn should give the edge to Black in the knight endgame.

35...Kc8 36.Kc2 Kd7 37.Kd3 Ke6 38.Ng2 f5 39.Nf4+ Kd6 40.Ke3 a5 41.f3 gxf3 42.Kxf3 a4

Gaining space on the Q-side.

43...Nc6?! 44.Kf4 Ke6 ½–½.
A bit disappointing, as most of us in the commentary room expected Short to grind out his small edge, or make something more of it. We spent most of our time on 43...Kd5!? when passive defence looks poor, so White should probably try 44.Kf4 Kc4 45.Ke5 Kd3, and the race is on!
We were extremely fortunate to have Nigel in the commentary room after the game where he spent a few minutes discussing these final few moves of the draw. Many GM's (and probably most) would not be at all interested in spending any energy thinking about a disappointing result (I am quite sure Nigel was not very pleased to only draw in this game), and he was extremely gracious to give us a few minutes of his time and his thoughts after a clear disappointment. Indeed, he seemed quite perplexed at his inability to work out much of anything in this endgame (he claimed to feel more or less "brain dead" in his late game calculations, and claimed that he was extremely low on energy and in need of something sugary to give him an energy boost!). Naturally he had looked at 43...Kd5, but claimed to have miscounted tempi, or simply had the pieces on the wrong squares in his mind - a symptom of running on empty and general fuzzyheadedness.
Well, even in these lines with 43...Kd5 (which does, on surface, look a much better winning try than the 43...Nc6 played), it is far from clear that Black can win. In the line mentioned above ending in 45...Kd3, if we continue 46.Nf4+ Kc2 47.Ke6!, things are still very messy. And going back to 43...Kd5 itself, White may even be able to play 44.Nc3+ Kxd4 45.Nxa4 Nd5 46.Nc3!?, when 46...Nxc3+ 47.bxc3 Kxc3 48.Kf4 seems to lead to a nightmarish Q and P endgame after 48...Kb2 and a promotion race, or a just-in-time draw after 48...Kd4!?, forcing a trade of Queens on g8 (after both sides promote, Black has ...Qf1+).
I was rooting for Nigel in this game, so I hope he didn't actually miss a win after his efforts to convert a series of small advantages. He only has two rounds to go, so let's hope he can put a big effort together with White on Saturday afternoon!

Round 8: Last Train for Clarksville

In the game of Bridge, there is an advanced bidding convention colourfully referred to as the "Last Train for Clarksville"....essentially it occurs when a partnership wants to bid a slam, but is not sure how high is a safe level - it is a question of finding a balance between aggression and security. In other words, for those who are willing to risk the destination, "All aboard!".

For many players this round, this was the test. Most players in the trailing pack knew that a win was of critical importance. Was it, however, worth risking a loss? Well, that's the whole point, isn't it? Some players would rather play "va banque" in search of the full point and risk finishing nowhere. Others want a lively chance at making something happen, but aren't willing to throw complete caution to the winds. In other words, the players' particular psychology and philosophy on chess was really coming to the forefront this round. And of course there is the whole issue of playing White vs. playing Black.

Perhaps this was really the 2nd last train for Clarksville - Round 9 will bring these issues even more to the foreground. But some will have fallen too far behind in Round 8, based on their choices then. Let's take a look at the top standings coming into the final two rounds.

Once again, two players share the lead: GM and top seed Xiangzhi Bu of China, and GM Kamil Miton of Poland. Both have 6.5 points out of 8.
Next in line, six players (all GM's) with 6/8: David Howell (England), Sandipan Chanda (India), Vadim Milov (Switzerland), Suat Atalik (Turkey), Sergey Tiviakov (Netherlands), and Valery Aveskulov (Ukraine). And finally, a huge logjam of 24 players have 5.5/8, with English GM Nigel Short at the head of the pack.

Top seed Bu played a wonderful game today to move into the joint lead. Yesterday he defended the Black side of this variation, and today he took the White pieces in it:

Bu - Atalik: Slav Defence

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6

In Round 7, Bu played the main alternative, 6...Nbd7, against GM Sipke Ernst of the Netherlands and won a nice game.

7.f3 c5!?

Again, this line. No one has ventured the crazy piece sac after 7...Bb4 8.e4 Bxe4!?, where current theory has advanced to well past move 20 in some positions and the verdict is still out. 7...c5 was played in Bluvshtein - Miton, from Round 7, and drawn after some dynamic play in 31 moves.

8.e4 cxd4 9.exf5 Bb4


I have been out of competitive chess circles for a few years, and do not know if this is hot new theory or a new idea fresh from the Chinese GM's, but it is certainly a move to get one's attention! White is up a piece, and cannot save his N/c3, so giving Black a choice of minors to capture is not as foolhardy as it looks. More importantly, the B/e3 is poisoned! 10...dxe3? 11.Qxd8+ Kxd8 12.Nxf7+ and 13.Nxh8 just wins material for White. Black's continuation is pretty well forced.

It should be pointed out that 10.Bxc4 (as in Bluvshtein - Miton) and 10.fxe6 are the only two moves that I have seen here in the past.

10...dxc3 11.Qxd8+ Kxd8 12.0–0–0+

Now 12.Nxf7+?? simply loses to 12...Ke7, as 13...cxb2+ is threatened as well as White's knight.

12...Ke7 13.bxc3 Ba3+

Allowing 14.Bc5+ after 13...Bxc3 looks very foolhardy. After 14...Ke8 15.Nxc4 (planning 16.Nd6+), Black's position looks awful.

14.Kc2 Nbd7 15.Nxd7 Nxd7 16.fxe6 fxe6 17.Bxc4 Rhc8 18.Kb3 Ne5 19.Be2 Bc5 20.Bg5+! Kf8 21.f4 Nf7 22.Rd7

With straightforward play, White has achieved a significant plus, and Black has not made any clear errors (IMHO) since faced with 10.Be3! Black will have to look for improvements somewhere, as it soon becomes clear just how bad Black's game is here.

22...Nxg5 23.fxg5 Be7 24.Rf1+! Ke8 25.Rxb7 a6

Forced, to stop 26.Bb5+. White simply has too much initiative here for Black to put up much resistance.

26.Bf3 Rcb8 27.Bc6+ Kd8 28.Rd1+ Kc8 29.Kc4! Rxb7 30.Bxb7+ Kxb7 31.Rd7+ Kb6 32.Rxe7

Much as in Atalik's win yesterday, one side has better rook, King and extra material. In fact, here Black cannot really prevent the loss of a 2nd pawn. The endgame is quite hopeless for Black.

32...Rf8 33.g6 hxg6 34.Rxe6+ Ka5 35.Rxg6 Rc8+ 36.Kb3 Rb8+ 37.Kc2 Rb7 38.h4 Rf7 39.Rg4 1–0.

There is little point in continuing, and Atalik decides to preserve energy for the final two games.


Compare the above technical gem above to the following chaos. The Indian GM throws the kitchen sink at Milov, the "va banque" approach mentioned in the intro, and the game still ends in a draw!

Milov - Chanda: Queen's Gambit, Irregular

1.c4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Bg5 h6!? 5.Bxf6 Qxf6

This is already slightly unusual, as with the more traditional ...Be7, Black's bishop is typically on f6, but not his Queen. The text has more akin with the Moscow variation of the Semi-Slav (1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6. 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6!? 6.Bxf6 Qxf6).

6.e3 Nd7 7.Nbd2!? g5!?

White chooses to deploy his Queen's knight on a different square than the usual c3, and Black indicates that he plans to play for the full point in this game!

8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 g4 10.Ng1 h5

I was pretty skeptical of Black's play in the commentary room for most of the session, but it certainly sets White with some unique problems - what the heck is going on? is at the top of the list! It seemed to me that spending multiple tempi on these pawn advances without a King as a clear target at the end of the day was a bit dubious. Let's travel a little further down this wild (and very unpaved) road...
11.Ne2 h4 12.Qc2 c5 13.Nf4 Qg5 14.dxc5 Nxc5 15.Bb5+ Bd7 16.Bxd7+ Nxd7 17.Rd1 Bg7 18.Qa4 d4 19.0–0 b5!? 20.Qa3 Qc5 21.Qd3 Ne5 22.Qe4 Rd8 23.Nb3 Qc6!
Black's position looks exceedingly loose, and he is being reduced to finding only moves, but White still has no knockout punch in sight.
24.Qf5 d3 25.Nd4 Qb7
This might be the zenith of White's chances. 26.Nh5! looks strong, but allows some dangerous and scary complications: 26.Nh5 Rxh5!? 27.Qxh5 h3 28.gxh3! Rxd4! 29.exd4 Nf3+ 30.Kh1 Nxd4 31.f3! seems to hold, as 31...Nxf3 32.Qxg4! leaves Black with no killing discovered check. Still, this is a line a computer could handle far better than a human, and I have sympathy for Milov choosing to rule out a Black ...h3 advance once and for all. Another possibility for White is 26.Nxd3!, and after 26...h3 27.gxh3 gxh3 28.f3!, White appears to be staving off the attack. Both of these lines require iron nerves from White, but after Milov's choice instead, Black appears to be quite OK.
26...gxh3 27.Nxh3 Qd7 28.Qe4 Rh5! 29.Rxd3 f5 30.Nxf5 Qxf5 31.Rxd8+ Kxd8 32.Rd1+ Ke8
Black's King is exposed, but he now has an extra piece. Milov was unable to find a way to bring his N/h3 into the attack, and decided to force matters with a perpetual.
33.Qa8+ Kf7 34.Qd5+ Kf8 35.Qa8+ Kf7 36.Qd5+ Kf8 37.Qa8+ ½–½.
An absolutely crazy game, and certainly not your typical example of what comes to mind when one things of "grandmaster draw"!

Dress like a Grandmaster

What are well-dressed 2650-plus players wearing this season? The 2007 Canadian Open t-shirt, of course. GM Bu Xiangzhi of China wore his shirt on Board One last night... and won, vaulting into the lead.

Buy your lucky shirt this weekend for $20, at the CFC store next to the skittles room. The organizers are also throwing in smaller versions of the poster behind GM Bu, suitable for framing.

After Round 8: Bu, Miton leading with 6.5 points

AFTER 8 ROUNDS LEADING WITH 6.5 POINTS:GM Xiangzhi Bu of China and GM Kamil Miton of Poland. Following with 6.0 points are: GM David Howell ENG, GM Chanda Sandipan IND, GM Vadim Milov SUI, GM Suat Atalik TUR, GM Sergey Tiviakov NED, GM Valeriy Aveskulov UKR.

At the time of this posting (12:20am July 14), Round 8 has not yet fully concluded. Thomas Roussel-Roozmon and Trevor Vincent are still playing. Once Round 8 concludes, official results will be posted here:
Photo: Thomas Roussel-Roozmon at the beginning of Round 8 of the Canadian Open

Friday, July 13, 2007

Round 8 Photos

Here's a few photos from the beginning of Round 8 of the 2007 Canadian Open. The full set of photos for Round 8 can be found here. At the time of this posting, Round 8 is still underway. Live games from Monroi can be viewed here.

(left) GM David Howell

(below) GM Xiangzhi Bu

(left) GM Kamil Miton
(below) GM Tom Likavsky(right) with Slovakian Embassy official

Canadian Open, a truly international event

Since started hosting Canadian Open viewable games online (providedby Monroi) in the evening of July 9, there have been more than 1,400 visitors from 60 countries viewing these games 3,000 times as of 2 pm EDT today.

Fifty-five percent of viewers are from Canada, followed by USA (14.2%), Netherlands (5.7%), Turkey (4.7%) and UK (3.4%). Here is the list of top 40 countries ranked by the numbers of visits.

Pairings for Round 8

Pairings for Round 8 are now available here. Alphabetical pairings are also available.

Photos: GM Xiangzhi Bu (5.5) and GM Suat Atalik (6.0) to battle on Board 1 tonight

Top 10 boards:
  1. GM Xiangzhi Bu, GM Suat Atalik
  2. GM Vadim Milov, GM Chanda Sandipan
  3. GM Kamil Miton, GM Hoang Thong Tu
  4. GM Bator Sambuev, GM Nigel D. Short
  5. GM Sergey Tiviakov,Nikolay Noritsyn
  6. GM Victor Mikhalevski, IM Leonid Gerzhoy
  7. GM Anton Shomoev, Rick Lahaye
  8. GM Borislav Ivkov, GM Valeriy Aveskulov
  9. GM Mark Bluvshtein, FM Shiyam Thavandiran
  10. Raja Panjwani, GM David Howell

Chessbase covers the 2007 Canadian Open

As the 2007 Canadian Open head into the home stretch, Chessbase features a report up to Round Seven, bringing news of the event to the global chess community. Here it is!

Atalik leads after Round 7

GM Suat Atalik takes the lead with 6.0 points after Round 7 of the Canadian Open. In second with 5.5 points are GMs Bu, Milov, Miton, Sandipan and Tu. Full standings can be found here.

Round 7: Atalik's Yellow Jersey

By virtue of his fine rook endgame win over GM David Howell of England, Turkish GM Suat Atalik is now in sole first place with 6 points out of 7. Five GM's are within half a point with 5.5 points: GM Xiangzhi Bu (China), GM Vadim Milov (Switzerland), GM Kamil Miton (Poland), GM Chanda Sandipan (India), and GM Hoang Thong Tu (Vietnam). The next point group on 5 has seventeen players, headed by English GM Nigel Short, who was held to a draw in a Petroff's Defence by Toronto's young GM, Mark Bluvshtein (in the same variation that downed Alexei Shirov in Edmonton 2 years ago!)

There were a number of good games today, or least interesting ones for the fans in the commentary room...keep those decisive results coming - today, only 5 draws on the top 25 boards!

Atalik - Howell: Grunfeld Defence

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 c5 8.Be3

Originally, I thought this game was identical to Milov-Howell from Round 4, with the exception that Milov chose to play B/c1-g5 and only after ...h7-h6 retreated the bishop to e3. But something didn't feel quite right. Then I recalled that in the Milov game, White developed his King's knight to e2 much later in the opening. Here, the knight has already been committed to f3, and hence a very different position is underway, and not only due to the location of White's dark-squared bishop. The game position here is quite theoretical....Milov's choice was considerably lesser known.

8...Qa5 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.Rb1 0–0

Not wanting to waste a tempo on a move like 10...a6, Howell embarks on a risky Queen sacrifice. I could only find 2 examples going back to 2003 (between players 2500 FIDE and above). White scored one win and the other game was drawn. Another more natural choice would have been 10...cxd4, leading to a slightly better endgame for White after many exchanges.

11.Rb5 cxd4!? 12.Rxa5 dxe3 13.Qxe3 Nxa5

Gasps in the spectator room - did Black blunder? Certainly not, but it did take some convincing....and it would have done my reputation better if Howell had managed to hold a draw! The position is unbalanced, materially and strategically. Black needs to find a way to coordinate his forces, preferably while ganging up against White's weak c3-pawn. White, contrastingly, wants to consolidate his position, and shut down the activity of Black's fianchettoed bishop and rooks along the c-file.

14.Nd4 Bd7 15.e5 Rfc8 16.f4 Rc7 17.Bb5!?

The drawn game followed this one up to move 16. In that game White played 16.Be2 - Atalik's plan may be an improvement, as 16.f4, bolstering e5, looks like it may be necessary in many positions, and now White finds a useful post for his bishop in a single developing move, not wasting time on B/f1-e2.

17...Nc6 18.Nxc6 Bxc6 19.Bxc6 Rxc6 20.Ke2

I did not expect a wholesale exchange on c6, but White's strategy is interesting. With Black's bishop hemmed in, it is not easy to organize much needed counterplay - various pieces for Queen is only good if all the pieces are working! Black chose to try to open the position and exploit White's centralized King, but it didn't work out very well. More predictable moves like 20...Rac8 also look clearly better for White after 21.Rd1, say, 21...Rxc3 22.Qxa7, when b7 is dropping and Black is still searching for targets.

20...f6?! 21.Rd1! fxe5 22.Rd7 b6 23.Qd3 Rac8 24.Rxe7 Rxc3 25.Qd5+ Kh8 26.fxe5 Bh6! 27.g3!

Black's last was a good bid for counterplay with 27...Re3+, but White's calm response creates an escape cubbyhole for White's King on h3, and the hoped-for perpetual is simply not there. Black is struggling.

27...Bg5 28.Rxa7 Rf8 29.Qe4!

Cutting out checks and offering Black a pawn down Rook endgame through simplification. Howell finally decides there is nothing better than trying to salvage a half point in a clearly inferior endgame.

29...Re3+ 30.Qxe3 Bxe3 31.Kxe3 Kg8


A nice idea which was overlooked during my commentary. With an extra pawn, better King and better rook, I gave White excellent chances to convert this endgame to a full point, but pointed out that limiting Black's defensive counterply would require good technique. Atalik's move is designed to keep Black's King out of the game for awhile.

32...b5 33.Rf4 Ra8 34.Rf2 Ra4

Tit for tat. Black's King is cut off on the f-file, so Black tries to prevent White's King from crossing the 4th rank. There is also a trap in that the tempting 35.e6 is a serious error - 35...Ra6! would simply pick it off as White's King is poorly placed. This point explains White's next move.

35.Kd3! Kg7 36.e6 Ra6 37.Re2 Rd6+ 38.Kc3 Kf8 39.e7+ Ke8 40.Re5 Rf6 41.Re2

Black's last aimed for counterplay on the 7th with ...Rf2. White decides to repeat the position and try something else.

41...Rd6 42.Kb4 Rd5 43.Ka5!

Very nice. Sneaking around the b-pawn gets White's King to the important 6th rank.

43...Rf5 44.Kb6 b4 45.Kc6 Ra5 46.Kd6 Rb5

46...Ra6+ 47.Kc5 just picks off the b4-pawn. Now White takes advantage of the fact that nearly all pawn endgames are lost for Black.

47.Rc2 Rb8

47...Rb6+ 48.Rc6! Rxc6+ 49.Kxc6 Kxe7 50.Kc5 is absolutely hopeless.

48.Rc6 Ra8 49.Ke6 Rb8 50.h4 1–0.

Black is out of moves. Also winning was the idea R/c6-d6-d8+, again with a winning pawn endgame.

GM Sipke Ernst (Netherlands) - GM Xiangzhi Bu: Slav Defence

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 Nbd7

Last round we saw the more common 6...e6 against the Modern 6.Ne5 in Bluvshtein - Miton.

7.Nxc4 Nb6 8.Ne5 a5 9.g3 e6 10.Bg2 Bb4 11.0–0 0–0 12.Re1 Ne4!

A battle around square e4 is unfolding. Black's last is tactically held up by the weak d4-pawn. If White tries to win material with 13.Nxe4 Bxe1 14.Qxe1, then 14...Bxe4! 15.Bxe4 Qxd4, and White's minors are loose.

13.Bxe4 Bxe4 14.e3 f6

By guarding d4, White's hope to play N/c3xe4 became real. Black takes time to kick back the e5-knight before retreating his bishop.

15.Nd3 Bg6 16.e4


Deep prophylaxis. There were understandably some confused spectators concerning this move, and I could only suggest that they try to compare the idea to the relative common K/g1-h1 that one sees in many open Sicilians. Black feels that his King may come unders some tactical pressure along the b3-g8 diagonal some day, and takes time to prevent this from occuring. It's surprising that this idea becomes a reality so quickly!
17.f3 Qe7 18.Be3 Nc4! 19.Qb3
This works out poorly, but the more natural 19.Bf2 fails to 19...Nxb2!, winning a pawn. If White cannot develop his bishop and support his centre without facing tactical problems, his position must be much worse than I initially suspected. I realized that Black was quite OK, but it may well be much better than that. 18.Nxb4 axb4 19.Ne2 e5! is also nice for Black, somewhat like the actual game.
19...Nxe3 20.Rxe3 Rfd8 21.Nxb4 axb4 22.Ne2 e5 23.dxe5 fxe5
Not great, but what should White do? Black has simple moves coming up - occupy the d-file with rooks, bring the bishop to f7, ...Qc5+ sometimes, keep an eye on the a4-pawn. By contrast, White is really stuck for any constructive idea. Maybe 24.Rd3 is relatively best, but 24...Bf7 25.Rxd8+ Rxd8 26.Qc2 Qd6 leaves Black firmly in the driver's seat.
24...Rd2 25.Rd1? Bf7! 26.Rxd2
Whether White simply had an oversight, or he planned this Queen sacrifice, the resulting position gives White nowhere near enough compensation for the missing lady. Bu wraps up effectively, opening up lines against White's K-side while his pieces lack the ability to coordinate.
26...Bxb3 27.Rxb3 Rxa4 28.Rbd3 Ra8 29.Rd6 Rf8 30.Kg2 Qf7 31.f4 exf4 32.gxf4 Re8 33.e5 g5! 34.Rd7 Qe6 35.Rxb7 gxf4 36.Rxb4 Qg4+ 37.Kf2 Qh4+ 0–1.
GM Alex Yermolinsky (USA) - GM Vadim Milov: Modern Rat Thing
1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bg5 Nd7 5.Nf3 a6 6.a4 h6 7.Be3 e6 8.g3 Ne7
Milov's amorphous setup would be at home in any collection of chess Canadiana. Black keeps many options open, while giving White a free reign in the centre.
9.Bg2 d5 10.exd5
Locking the centre leaves Black with the active ...c7-c5 break down the road. Black keeps knights on to pursue the possibility of a future ...N/e7-f5.
10...exd5 11.0–0 0–0 12.Qd2 Kh7 13.a5 Nf6 14.Ne5 Nf5 15.b4?!
Hoping to clamp down on Black's Q-side and build pressure, I feel this plan was likely too ambitious. White has ideas like N/c3-a4-c5 sometimes, or maybe even b4-b5, opening Q-side lines under the right circumstances, but the move also weakens the long diagonal and the c4-square in particular, which is now an outpost for Black's pieces.
15...Be6 16.Rfe1 Nd6! 17.f3 Nd7
This regrouping of knights made it to my analysis board in the commentary room. Black's plays simply for control of c4.
18.f4 Nxe5 19.fxe5 Nc4 20.Qd3
Not a brilliant square, but Black plays much the same on any Queen move.
Spying the right moment to open the position. Black need only work out a few tactical lines to justify this move. The White position proves to be shockingly difficult here.
21.exf6 Qxf6 22.Bxd5
The alternatives are not wonderful: 22.Rf1? Bf5!, winning; 22.Nxd5 Bxd5 23.Bxd5 Nxe3, and now 24.Qxe3 Rae8!, or 24.Rxe3 Rad8!, both with huge advantage for Black.
22...Nxe3 23.Qxe3 Rae8! 24.Ne4
24.Bxe6? Rxe6!! 25.Qxe6 Qf2+ 26.Kh1 Qf3+ and 27...Bxd4+, crushing. There are no good moves left for White.
24...Qd8! 0–1.
The most decisive. ...B/g7xd4, winning the Queen, is coming soon. Not Yermo's best by any stretch, but still an energetic and important win for Milov with the Black pieces.
To close tonight's report, and borrow a term from Toronto IM Lawrence Day's chess lingo, here is a "combo bombo" - White to play and win after Black's 30...Nd3. It is from the game Sandipan - Kovalyov.
Solution: 31.Qxh7+ Kf8 32.Qh6+! Ke7 33.Qe3+, and Black resigned as 33...Ne5 allows 34.Nxf5+, winning Black's Queen. Otherwise, White simply wins the N/d3 for nothing.
Three rounds to go - hope to see you all tomorrow!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

IM Lawrence Day Book Launch

The seats were filled at IM Lawrence Day's book signing and lecture Thursday afternoon at the Albert Room of the Ottawa Marriott. Day's book, Nick's Best, is an unvarnished account of the life and games of the late Canadian IM Bryon Nickoloff.

Photo: Lawrence Day signs his book, Nick's Best, for Stijn De Kerpel and Nigel Short.

Canadian Open chairman Gordon Ritchie introduced Day, his friend of 45 years, as simply one of the finest players to come from Ottawa. Indeed, Ritchie admitted that one reason he abandoned chess for other pursuits back then was because he wanted to keep a plus score against the kid, five years his junior, who was already showing his great potential and dedication to the game. Lawrence regaled the appreciative audience for 45 minutes with tales of adventures he shared with his friend Bryon, a creative genius in his monomonaical pursuit of perfection.

That perfectionism probably cost Bryon the GM title his ability so clearly warranted, according to Lawrence. His opening preparation was superb and his endgames were technically sound but usually played in desperate time trouble as he had used up the clock seeking the perfect plan in the middle game.

In the question and answer session that followed, Lawrence advised young chess players to follow Bryon's creative dedication, without adopting his bohemian life style. The book was published by ChessnMath and Larry Bevand was pleased to sell some 20 copies to fans in attendance, including superGM Nigel Short."

Nick's Best is available through

Short-Bluvshtein Round 7: 1/2-1/2

GM Nigel D. Short, GM Mark Bluvshtein 1/2-1/2 on Board 3

[Event "Canadian Open 2007"]
[Site "Ottawa"]
[Date "2007.07.12"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Short, Nigel"]
[Black "Bluvshtein, Mark"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteELO "2683"]
[WhiteTitle "GM"]
[BlackELO "2520"]
[BlackTitle "GM"]
[Source "MonRoi"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.O-O O-O 8.c4 c6 9.Qb3 Na6 10.cxd5 cxd5 11.Nc3 Be6 12.Re1 Nc7 13.Qc2 f5 14.Ne5 Qh4 15.g3 Qh5 16.Be2 Qh3 17.Bf1 Qh5 18.Qe2 Qxe2 19.Nxe2 Rac8 20.f3 Bb4 21.Rd1 Nf6 22.Nf4 Bd7 23.Be3 Bb5 24.Bh3 g6 25.Rac1 Rfe8 26.Kf2 Na8 27.Nfd3 Bd6 28.Bf1 Bxd3 29.Bxd3 Nb6 30.Bf4 Rxc1 31.Rxc1 Rc8 32.Rxc8 Nxc8 33.Bc2 Kf8 34.Bb3 Ke7 35.Bg5 Nb6 36.a4 Ke6 37.Bxf6 Kxf6 38.a5 Nc8 39.Bxd5 Bxe5 40.dxe5 Kxe5 41.Bxb7 Nd6 42.Ba6 Kd4 43.h4 h6 44.b4 g5 45.Be2 gxh4 46.gxh4 f4 47.h5 Kc3 48.b5 Kb4 49.b6 axb6 50.axb6 Kc5 51.Kg2 Kxb6 52.Kh3 Ne8 53.Kg4 Nf6 54.Kxf4 Nxh5 55.Ke5 Kc6 56.Bd3 Kd7 57.Bg6 Ng3 58.Kf4 Ne2 59.Kg4 Ke6 60.Kh5 Kf6 1/2-1/2

Round 7 underway

Round 7 of the Canadian Open is underway. Monroi live coverage is available here.
Photos taken just prior to Round 7 are available here.
Results and standings will be available later this evening.

GM Suat Atalik getting ready on Board 1

GM Nigel D. Short, GM Mark Bluvshtein on Board 3

Round 7 pairings

GM Suat Atalik and GM David Howell square off on Board 1 tonight

Here are the top 22 boards for Round 7 of the Canadian Open...
  1. GM Suat Atalik, GM David Howell
  2. GM Sipke Ernst, GM Xiangzhi Bu
  3. GM Nigel D. Short, GM Mark Bluvshtein
  4. GM Alex Yermolinsky, GM Vadim Milov
  5. GM Kamil Miton, GM Abhijit Kunte
  6. IM Tomas Krnan, GM Sergey Tiviakov
  7. GM Chanda Sandipan, FM Anton Kovalyov
  8. GM Valeriy Aveskulov, GM Anton Shomoev
  9. GM Hoang Thong Tu, GM Andrey V. Rychagov
  10. IM Artem Samsonkin, GM Victor Mikhalevski
  11. GM Tomas Likavsky, Bindi Cheng
  12. Victor Plotkin, GM Bator Sambuev
  13. Nikolay Noritsyn, FM John D. Bick
  14. Robert J. Gardner, GM Borislav Ivkov
  15. IM Alexander Reprintsev, Louie Jiang
  16. IM Leonid Gerzhoy, Peter Hum
  17. Rick Lahaye, Jerry Xiong
  18. FM Shiyam Thavandiran, Nikita Kraiouchkine
  19. GM Arkady Vul, Thomas Kaminski
  20. Raja Panjwani, Evan Raymer
  21. GM Frank De La Paz Perdomo, Roger Lebrun
  22. John Upper, IM Thomas Roussel-Roozmon

The full pairings are here.

Charles Graves Tie Day Pictures

A few random shots from yesterday's Charles Graves Tie Day. More pictures can be found here.
(Photos: top left: Les Bunning, top right: Walter Kosmin)