Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More Round 4: One Win in Ten

Of the top ten matchups in the Canadian Open's 4th round, only one game was decisive - Dutch GM Sergey Tiviakov defeated GM Valery Aveskulov of the Ukraine, and moved into a tie for 1st with 3.5 points. Still that is not to say that all was boring or quiet - here are the games from Boards 2-4.

Board 2: GM Vadim Milov (Switzerland) - GM David Howell (England): Grunfeld Defence

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bg5!?

A lesser variation, compared to the old Exchange variation 7.Bc4 and 8.Ne2, or the reams of theory on the Modern Exchange starting with 7.Nf3.

7...c5 8.Rc1 h6 9.Be3

As Toronto master Michael Dougherty pointed out during the commentary, the game quickly follows lines similar to those after 7.Be3, another early possibility. Both players must have recognized this as well, and needed to decide what the relevance of having the pawn on h6 rather than h7 might be in several lines.


The more natural and usual 9...Nc6 allows 10.d5 (now that c3 is defended), and so this method of increasing the pressure against White's centre is to be preferred.

10.Qd2 cxd4 11.cxd4 Qxd2+ 12.Kxd2 0–0 13.Bd3 Rd8 14.Ne2 Nc6

All very sensible to here, and fairly predictable. White does not really want to commit his pawn centre until absolutely necessary and so the next short sequence of moves also popped up on my analysis board fairly quickly.

15.Rc4! Be6 16.d5 Ne5 17.Rc7 Bd7!

A good choice, I think. The crowd of specs were really hoping for 17...Bxd5!? to work, I think, but after 18.exd5 Rxd5 19.Nf4 Rdd8! (better than 19...Rd6 20.Bc5), 20.Rxe7! g5 21.Rxe5, White simply appears better. 21...gxf4 22.Bxf4 Bxe5 23.Bxe5 gives White a nice bishop pair to combat rook and pawn, and 21...Bxe5 22. Nh5, and a quick K/d2-e2, also looks more pleasant for White. Black's retreat may not be as flashy, but simply intends a chipping away at White's now-extended centre with ...e7-e6. I believe that explains White's choice of developing his h1-rook (my prediction) as opposed to the greedy-looking 18.Rxb7?!

18.Rb1 b6 19.Ba6 e6 20.Ke1

My batting average in this game was quite good as this position also made it to our analysis board before the actual moves were transmitted. Black's next, however, was strong and quite underestimated.

20...Bc8! 21.Bxc8 Rdxc8 22.Rxc8+ Rxc8

Not really part of White's plans, but very logical from Black's perspective. Milov now recognizes the very real possibility of becoming worse and puts all of his faith in his passed d-pawn.

23.Rd1! exd5 24.exd5 Nc4 25.Bf4 g5 26.Bg3 f5 **D**

27.d6! Rd8

Necessary. The careless 27...f4?? runs into 28.d7 Rd8 29.Nxf4 gxf4 30.Bh4, winning.

28.d7 Ne5

28...Be5, one suggestion from my peanut gallery (apologies to Roger Lebrun, who looks absolutely nothing like a peanut! :-)), runs into the pretty 29.f4!, when 29...gxf4?? 30.Bh4, or 29...Bc7, say, 30.fxg5! Bxg3 32.Nxg3 (winning the f5-pawn), or 29...Bg7, say, 30.fxg5 (threat 31.Bc7) are all very good for White.

29.Bxe5 Bxe5 30.Rd5 Bf6 31.Ng3! f4 32.Nf5 Kf7 33.Rd6 h5 34.h4!? gxh4!?

At first I thought that 34.h4 was a great move, and that Milov was really pressing for the full point. But as we analysed, even 34...g4 as an alternative to the move played seems to lead to only a draw, after 35.Ke2 Be5 36.Nh6+ Ke7 37.Nf5+. This is probably the correct result.

35.Ke2 Be5 36.Nh6+ Ke7 37.Nf5+ Kf7 38.Rd1!?

A bit shocking, to my mind, but given Black's weak K-side, Milov may have felt there was little risk in continuing to play. I also mentioned to the group present that Milov is very used to playing in Open Swisses in Europe where playing for wins in nearly every game is very important - it could easily be the case that he is simply too used to fighting to the last pawn.

38...Ke6 39.Nd4+ Bxd4 40.Rxd4 Rxd7 41.Rxf4 Rd5 42.Rxh4 Kf6

An equal rook endgame has been reached, and assuming no terrible errors, a draw is still very likely.

43.Rc4 Kg5 44.g3 Rf5 45.Kf1 Rd5 46.Ke2 Rb5 47.Kf3 Rb2 48.a4 a5 49.Rd4 Rb4 50.Ke3 Rb3+ 51.Ke4 Rb2 52.f3 Rb3 53.Rd5+ Kg6 54.Rd6+ Kg7

White has managed to create a very, very small something, but still not enough to win.

55.Kf4 Kh7 56.Rf6 Kg7 57.Re6 b5 58.Re5 bxa4 59.Rxh5

59.Rxa5 a3 60.Rxh5 also fails to win as Black's rook is too active: 60...Rb4+ 61.Ke3 Rb3+ 62.Ke2 Rb2+ 63.Kd3 (if White unwisely chooses to put his King on the 1st rank, then ...a2! wins for Black!) 63...Rb3+, with perpetual (or wins f3-pawn).

59...Rb4+ 60.Ke3 ½–½.

Same problem, Black's rook can check ad nauseam.

Board 3: GM Kamil Miton (Poland) - GM Sipke Ernst (Netherlands): Dutch, Leningrad

1.d4 f5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d6 4.Nf3 g6 5.g3 Bg7 6.Bg2 0–0 7.d5 Qe8!? 8.0–0 a5 9.Be3 Na6 10.Qd2 Ng4 11.Bf4

This game was a complex fight throughout. White's last surprised a few onlookers, but the more natural 11.Bd4 runs into the surprising 11...Bh6!, when White's bishop becomes a target to ...e5 and ...c5.

11...Nc5 12.Nd4 Bd7 13.Nb3!?

Offering to trade Black's strongly posted N/c5. The attempt to chase this knight away with pawns is very time consuming (b3, a3, Rb1, b4), and White's choice seemed quite logical to me.

13...b6 14.Nd4!?

And back again. Perhaps the newly weakened light squares on the Q-side convinced White to keep his knight pair for potential occupation at a later date. Have I used the word complex yet?

14...Rc8 15.b3 Qf7 16.Rad1 Qf6 17.Qc1 Qf7 18.Ncb5 Kh8 19.Na7 Rce8 20.Nab5 Rc8 21.h4 Nf6 22.Bf3 Nfe4 23.Kg2 Bf6 24.Qc2 Bg7 25.Rh1!

I like this regrouping and felt that Miton might finally be on his way to producing another full point. The simple plan of h4-h5 is not at all easy to meet.


Rather ugly, but probably necessary. Here I honestly felt White was better as he had succeeded in provoking a tangible compromise in Black's position.

26.Bc1 Kh7 27.e3 Nf6 28.Bb2 Ng4 29.Rhf1 Be5 30.Nc3!

Finally a knight is making its way to the juicy f4-square. Black has been doing well to sit tight, but I was beginning to think it just might be one of those positions where White will slowly squeeze Black to death, a la Petrosian, for example.

30...Bg7 31.Nce2 e5 32.dxe6 Nxe6 33.Nxe6 Bxe6 34.Nf4 Bd7 35.Bxg7 Kxg7 36.Qc3+ Kh6 37.Qd2 Kg7 38.c5!?

A tactical shot, creating a passed Q-side pawn. Mind you, we are still a LONG way from any endgame!?

38...bxc5 39.Qxa5 Ne5 40.Bd5 Bc6 **D**


Breaking the pin. This temporary block of the long diagonal forces an exchange on d5 and creates a nice outpost on e6 for White's knight...looked like progress to me!

41...Bxd5 42.exd5 Ra8 43.Qc3 Kg8 44.Rd2 Rfb8 45.Re1

I have been quite impressed with Miton in this event, and particularly in his handling of the White pieces. While there is still work to do here, it looked like he could easily be on his way to 3/3 with White. Ernst, however, has not come this far to lie down easily, and comes up with some very creative counterplay over the next few moves.

45...c4! 46.bxc4 Ra4 47.c5 Rc4 48.Qa3 Rbb4 **D**

48...Rxc5 49.Rxe5! dxe5 50.Qxc5 exf4 51.d6!?, or even 51.gxf4 (putting the King on g3 should be OK), is not really playable for Black.

49.cxd6?! cxd6 50.Rb2?

White's 49th is not so bad, but his 50th undoes all of his hard work and lets Black escape with a miracle save. Best on move 49 is the direct 49.Qa8+!, when 49...Qf8 50.Qxf8+ Kxf8 51.Ne6+ and 52.Nxc7! (the reason to not trade pawns on d6) wins, as 52...Rxc5 allows the fork 53.Na6!
And if Black moves his King with 49...Kh7, 50.Ne6! leaves Black's Queen with no good squares, and a Q trade on g8 runs into the same variations after N/e6xc7.

After the pawn trade on d6, 50.Qa8+!? still offers chances after 50...Qf8 (50...Kh7 51.Ne6! again), 51.Qxf8+ Kxf8 52.Rxe5!? dxe5 53.Nxg6+ and 54.Nxe5, although Black may hold in some lines. Simpler and strong on the surface is the immediate 50.Ne6!, intending Q/a3-a8+, when 50...Qb7 51.Qe3! (idea Qh6) appears to keep very strong pressure in addition to an extra pawn.

White is a bit unfortunate that the line he did choose allows Black to escape in spectacular fashion, but credit to Black for not giving up, and making the most of his opportunities when they were presented to him.

50...Rxb2 51.Qxb2 **D**


Removing White's pride and joy, and threatening to wreak havoc with Queen and knight after 52...Qxd5+!

52.Qb8+ Kh7 53.Qxd6! Rxf2+! 54.Kxf2 Nd3+ 55.Kf1 Nxe1 56.Kxe1 Qa7!

It is possible that White only analyzed to 56.Kxe1 and assumed a victory, but I feel it more likely he overlooked something earlier. (And of course it could all have been time-trouble related as well, as I was not actually present in the tournament room, and do not have access to the clock times). Regardless, it is Black's active 56th which manages to salvage the half point in this pawn down Queen endgame. White's King is too exposed to exploit his far-flung d-pawn.

57.Qe5 Qxa2 58.d6 Qb1+ 59.Kd2 Qa2+ 60.Kd3 Qb3+ 61.Kd4 Qb2+ 62.Kd5 Qb5+ 63.Ke6 Qe8+ ½–½.

There is no escape from perpetual. 64.Kf6 Qh8+ 65.Ke6 Qe8+ 66.Kd5, and White's King can only run back and forth until a repetition occurs.


Tiviakov - Aveskulov: Sicilian, 2.c3

1.e4 c5 2.c3

Another Tiviakov specialty, which he has continued to play regularly despite a huge drop in popularity since the 1980's. In round 2, he won a very Queenless middlegame and endgame in another Sicilian offshoot, the Moscow Variation:

Tiviakov - Leonid Gerzhoy (Toronto): Sicilian, Moscow

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.c4 Nc6 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Qg4 9.Qxg4 Nxg4 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bf4 g6 12.h3 Nf6 13.e5 dxe5 14.Bxe5 0–0–0 15.Ke2 Bg7 16.Rhd1 Nh5 17.Bxg7 Nxg7 18.Ne4 Ne6 19.Ke3 f5 20.Nc3 g5 21.Ne2 h5 22.b4 h4 23.a4 g4 24.Nf4 Rxd1 25.Rxd1 Rh6 26.f3 Nxf4 27.Kxf4 gxh3 28.gxh3 Rg6 29.Re1 Kd7 30.Re5 Rg3 31.Ra5 Rxh3 32.Rxa7+ Ke6 33.b5 cxb5 34.cxb5 Rh1 35.b6 Rb1 36.a5 Rb4+ 37.Ke3 h3 38.Kf2 Rb2+ 39.Kg1 Ke5 40.Rxe7+ Kf4 41.Rg7 Kxf3 42.b7 f4 43.a6 Rb1+ 44.Kh2 Rb2+ 45.Kxh3 Rb1 46.Kh4 1–0

3...d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Nbd2 Nc6 7.Bc4 Bxf3 8.Qb3!?

A wild sequence of moves follows which I can only assume is theory. My current database is undergoing some repair, so I cannot consult the silicon oracle here, but the moves certain smack of erudition.

8...Na5!? 9.Qb5+ Qd7 10.Nxf3 Nxc4 11.Qxc4 cxd4 12.Nxd4 e5 13.Nc2

And so, after a number of adventures and exchanges, we arrive at this position. My evaluation during the commentary was that White had very slightly the better side of no real edge here. I still believe that Black can only be slightly worse here (if even that). White can try Bg5, Rd1, Ne3 perhaps, but Black simply hasn't made enough errors to be suffering yet. His next move offers a trade of Queens yet again, but it may be just a little too eager. What's wrong with 13...Be7?, say. Black needs to watch the e5-pawn, but that's really the only concern at the moment.

13...Qd5?! 14.Ne3! Qxc4 15.Nxc4 Nd7 16.f4!

And White has moved just a little bit closer to that slight advantage he is hoping to nurse. Tiviakov is really quite astounding at making something out of seemingly miniscule plusses, and his technique in this game and the one above is quite striking.

16...e4 17.Be3 Rc8 18.Ne5 Bc5 19.Ke2

Naturally, White has no need or desire to castle any longer and brings his King into the action (note similarily in game above).


19...Nxe5 20.fxe5 still leaves White with a nagging plus as the e4-pawn is easier to get to than the e5-pawn is for Black, e.g. 20...Ke7 21.Rhf1 Ke6 22.Rf4!, and White's pressure continues.

20.Bxc5 Rxc5 21.Rhd1 g5!? 22.Rd4! f6

22...gxf4 23.Rxe4! f5 24.Nd3+ is a tricky line which still provides a White plus.

23.Ng4 f5 24.Nf6+ Kf7 25.fxg5 h6 26.Rf1! hxg5?!

Tactics keep White afloat with a solid extra pawn after this. 26...Ke6!? looks a better try to me, and after 27.h4 hxg5 28.hxg5, White's extra pawn is at least a doubled one, and the h-file may provide Black with some counterplay. White would still be better, of course, even here.

27.Nxe4! Re5 28.Kd3 g4 29.h3!

Black's King position allows for a Ng5+, maintaining White's extra pawn.

29...Ke7 30.Nf2 gxh3 31.Nxh3 Nd5 32.Rf3 Rg8 33.g3 Nf6 34.Nf2 Nh5 35.g4! Ng7

Initially I thought that this was terrible at the tournament hall, but 35...fxg4 36.Nxg4 leads to even bigger trouble as White picks up a tempo and has this amazing threat of Ng4-h6! 36...Re6 37.Ne3! does not seem to help matters much. So, as unappealing I feel 35...Ng7 to be (and still do!), it is considerably stronger than the alternative, and as such, perhaps deserves a (!).

36.Kc2 Ne6?

Despite the simplification, Black's game is still quite difficult. It would be nice to simply exchange the f-pawn for g-pawn and concentrate solely on the Q-side, but it is not at all easy to do so under favourable circumstances. Black's best may be 36...Re2+ when 37.Kb3 Ne6 at least has an additional nuisance check available for Black with ...Nc5+, and 37.Kd3 Re5 repeats. 37.Rd2, offering a trade of rooks would also be possible there, but I think Black would welcome a trade of one set of rooks. Another idea for White, if his King were forced back to d3, is R/d4-f4, more or less forcing Black to play ...f5xg4, and letting White's knight achieve some activity with N/f2xg4.
There is little question that Black could have offered more resistance than the text move chosen, but also little doubt that White has a surprising amount of pressure given the simplified nature of the position.

37.Rb4! fxg4 38.Nxg4

Double attack - White wins a 2nd pawn and the game. White need only be patient now, and coming this far, Tiviakov is not about to mess things up.

38...Re2+ 39.Kd1 Rg2 40.Rxb7+ Kd6 41.Nf2 Rg1+ 42.Kc2 R8g2 43.Rd3+ Kc6 44.Rf7 Nc5 45.Rd2 a5 46.Rf6+ Kc7 47.Rf5 Kc6 48.b3 Kb6 49.Kb2 Rf1 50.Ka3 Nb7 51.Rf6+ Kc7 52.Re2 Rg7 53.Ne4 Rxf6 54.Nxf6

One step closer to the win.

54...Rg3 55.Re7+ Kc6 56.Re6+ Kc7 57.Nd5+ Kd7 58.Re7+ Kc8 59.c4 Rg2 60.c5! Nd8 61.c6!

Both here and on the previous move, capturing the c-pawn with knight allows Rc7+, winning a piece.

61...Rc2 62.c7 1–0.

Almost there....63.Nb6+ is next.


Best Canadian underdog stories of the day: Scarborough junior, Liam Henry, nicked his GM opponent, Abhijit Kunte, of India, for a draw, as did Alberta FIDE Master (FM), Greg Huber, against recently settled FM Anton Kovalyov (only 15 years old, and FIDE rating of 2510 on most recent list!) of Montreal (via Ukraine and Argentina).

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