Saturday, July 7, 2007

Round 1: Really Big Shew

Deen Hergott here - told you I would be back blog time at least. What's with my title for round 1? Well, read on...

I'm old enough (sigh) to remember the Ed Sullivan Show, or at least my older relatives talking about it. And this was on Black and White TV (whatever that is, I can hear some of the young blogreaders whispering)...

Anyways, he used to introduce his next act as "a really big show (prounounced shew)", and that's what this year's edition of our Canadian Open Chess Championship promises to be. Once this year's huge effort of an event got underway, it was more or less chess as usual, some wins, some draws and some losses. That's the big picture at least. My job this week will be to provide you with some of the highlights from the event, which will be pretty much contained to the top 40 or so boards, unless I am provided with spectactular happenings from the remaining 100 boards - and I am sure that there will be something interesting going on there, so please drop me a line if you feel it might be interesting to others - either comments here or email to I can't print everything, but if you think it might be fun to share, I might too!

This is my blogging mandate, and I am expecting some exciting chess, with no fewer than 33 titled players in attendance - as far as live work at the tournament site is concerned, today was a bit of a stopgap measure as my projected work was impossible due to temporary technical difficulties (do not adjust your dials...etc.). If you had been at the Marriott today, and seen the number of committee members and volunteers, not to mention eager chessplayers, overflowing the lower floor of the hotel, you might be surprised to hear that Round 1 was only delayed an hour. Sure there were a few glitches here and there, but in an event this size, there are always some growing pains. Instead of using a MonRoi interface, I tried to make due with a quickly downloaded version of ChessBase Light and some scurrying back and forth between the commentary room and the playing room for the top boards. One of my biggest problems was trying to use a hypersensitive trackball on a laptop as opposed to a more traditional (ok, say it, dinosaur) was frustrating, but those are the details that are easy to fix once they are recognized - more growing pains, right? Well, everyone did there best to make the most of a less than perfect situation....we have 8 more days to get it right, and I am confident that things will quickly improve as the rounds progress. To all my helpers today (Adam, Peter, Garrett, Zeljka, Tim...), a big thank you - sorry for missing last names and anyone I have overlooked.

Well, enough chit-chat...on to some of the games. I am hoping to cover roughly six games per round, once everything is smoothly interfacing (i.e. I can try and analyze some chess for folks rather than struggling with a bleeping trackball, uh, sorry, no more ranting, I promise...), and I think that will be doable for most of the event. In round 1, I managed to cover the first half of 3 of the top games (boards 1-4)...I made a few predictions, got some of them right, others not, and my evaluation of the games was dead on - 3 wins for 3 Grandmasters. Yeah, I know, just call me Kreskin (another blast from the past!) :-)

Oh, and for today at least, expect to read my ramblings in several parts....I am new to the blogosphere, and anyone who has heard me leave phone messages knows that I can tend to go on a bit, and on and, really, stop me if you've heard this one before...


Board 1) Vul,A (2324) - Xiangzhi,B (2656) Canadian Open 2007 Ottawa Canada (1), 07.07.2007

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 c6 3.c4 dxc4 4.e3 Be6!?

An unusual option in the Queen's Gambit Accepted. White's next may not the best reaction as it leaves vulnerable squares on White's Q-side. 5.Na3 and 5.Qc2 look possible, but White may have wanted to rule out Black's option of ...b5, as risky as it can be, altogether.

5.a4 Nf6 6.Na3 c5 7.Bxc4 Bxc4 8.Nxc4 Nc6 9.dxc5

The most direct, but Black proves his position to be quite solid despite the lack in development. Moves like 9.0-0 lead to an isolated d-pawn for White, but a more or less level position. White may have been hoping for more.

9...Qxd1+ 10.Kxd1 Ne4 11.Ke2 Nxc5

This was the first batch of moves I scrawled down from this game on Board 1. Black is behind in development, but his knights are both ready to pounce on weakened squares on White's b-file (b4 and b3). Note that the advance a2-a4 is responsible for both of these weaknesses, hence the sage adage that "pawns do not move backwards, and one should be prudent before advancing them". Naturally, one would think that Black should not be better here, but as the game proceeds, it becomes clear that his game is much easier to play than White's.

12.Bd2 Nb3 13.Ra3 Nxd2 14.Nfxd2 (DIAGRAM TIM IF POSSIBLE ) 0–0–0!

This option did not get mentioned during my commentary, and it is an excellent one. Black manages to develop his a8-rook and bring the King to safeguard the b7-square all in one move.

15.Rc1 Kb8 16.Ne4 e6

There was some question as to whether Black would develop his bishop on e7 or g7, but the threat of Ne4-g5 forces Black to get going with things as directly as possible. The gained tempo against White's R/a3 allows for simple and effective moves.

17.Rb3 Be7 18.Ncd2

It is hard to find anything for White to do with his knights, and Black has several natural and useful moves coming up - Black feels slightly better to me. Fritz' grandfather (aka Fritz 4.0) says 1/10 of a pawn to Black.

18...Rc8 19.Rbc3 Rhd8

This is where I ran out of steam and technology on this game. Bu's handling is instructive - small improvements in his pieces (King included*), some space gaining**, and a demonstration of bishop against knight.

20.Nf3 h6 21.Rd1 Rxd1 22.Kxd1 a6 23.Nc5 Ka7* 24.Nd3 Bf6 25.Rc2 Rd8 26.Ke2 g5** 27.h3 Bg7 28.Rc4 Rd6 29.e4 b5 30.axb5 axb5 31.Rc1 Kb6* 32.b4 f5** 33.e5 Rd5 34.g4 Bf8 35.Rb1 Be7 36.Ke3 Rd8 37.Rb3 Bf8 38.Rb1 Be7 39.Rb3 h5 40.gxh5 g4 41.hxg4 fxg4 42.Nh2 (DIAGRAM) 42...Bg5+***

This check proves devastating. White's King has no good squares, and prolonging the game doesn't improve matters sufficiently.

43.f4 gxf3+ 44.Kf2 Nd4 45.Rb2 Bh4+ 46.Kf1 Rh8 47.Ne1 Bxe1 48.Kxe1 Rxh5 49.Rd2 Rxe5+ 50.Kf1 Re4 51.Rd3 e5 0–1.

King and pawn endgames are hopeless for White as Black will round up the b-pawn and promote his own. A convincing win by the event's top-rated seed!

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