Monday, July 9, 2007

Round 3

Fortunately for me, I didn't understand what was going on in a number of games from the 3rd round, and so I don't have as much to say! After nearly 10 hours of talking about chess yesterday (Sunday), I have to admit my throat felt like it had taken quite a beating...I'm quite hoarse today. I guess I will need to remember to drink water during the round to keep it happier!

As I mentioned before, the short(ish) draws I was somewhat expecting were nowhere to be seen, with good reason. Although I later heard that David Gordon offered his 3rd GM opponent, Sipke Ernst, of the Netherlands, a draw on move 26 (a pawn up, but a much worse and likely lost position), without realizing the rule was in existence himself! It is unusual to see such a rule in place in my 30-year experience of chess in Canada, but personally I like it from the specatators point of view. It forces the opponents to at least give some impression of playing for a win!

Here are highlights from the 3rd round:

Board 1: GM Sandipan Chanda (India) - GM Bu (China), Moscow Sicilian, draw in 52 moves, Black looked slightly better to me from another Queenless middlegame (Bu's 3rd), but it didn't appear to be enough to convert.

Board 2: GM Valery Aveskulov (Ukraine) - GM Milov (Switzerland), Sicilian, ...e6/...a6, draw in 48 moves.

An exciting slugfest, though I am fairly certain that Milov slipped out of the noose in this game.
Critical position is after Black's 27...Ng7. White can likely win the e4-pawn with advantage in some lines. Black's tricky 31...Ng5!? led to very unclear complications, still better for White, I think, but extremely messy. White ultimately had to play for a draw a pawn down, so I think he will be somewhat disappointed not to find something better....still a great fight (and the 2nd round of the day!)

Aveskulov - Milov: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bd3 Nf6 7.0–0 b5 8.a4 b4 9.Na2 Bb7 10.Qe2 Be7 11.Bd2 a5 12.c3 bxc3 13.Nxc3 0–0 14.Rad1 Nbd7 15.Ndb5 Nc5 16.Bc2 Qb6 17.Be3 Rac8 18.f3 Rfd8 19.Qf2 d5 20.e5 Ne8 21.f4 g6 22.Bd4 Qa6 23.g4 Ne4 24.Qg2 Bc5 25.f5 Bxd4+ 26.Rxd4 exf5 27.gxf5 Ng7 28.fxg6 hxg6 29.Nxe4 dxe4 30.Bb3 Ne6 31.Qf2 Ng5 32.Qe3 Rxd4 33.Nxd4 Qb6 34.e6 Nxe6 35.Rxf7 Qxd4 36.Qxd4 Nxd4 37.Rxb7+ Nxb3 38.Rxb3 Rc4 39.Kf2 Kg7 40.Rb7+ Kf6 41.Ke3 Rxa4 42.b3 Ra2 43.Rb6+ Kg7 44.Ra6 Kh6 45.Kxe4 Ra3 46.Kf4 Rxb3 47.Rxa5 g5+ 48.Kg4 ½–½.

Board 3: GM David Howell (England) - GM Sergei Tiviakov (Netherlands): Scandinavian, 3...Qd6, drawn in 37.

I had absolutely no idea what to say about this game other than that Tiviakov is apparently a specialist in this very offbeat opening. I have recollections of seeing him defend some pretty miserable positions against very good players in this line in the past, but also some fairly effortless wins. I suggest you play through the game ( complete .pgn files downloadable from Monroi site) and decide what you think for yourself if interested!

Board 4: GM Kamil Miton (Poland) - GM Borislav Ivkov (Serbia): Czech Benoni, 1-0 in 38.

Game of the day, in my opinion. At least of those that I saw. Miton put together a pretty flawless effort, and exploited a pawn vulnerability with precise play.

Miton - Ivkov: 1.d4 c5 2.d5 e5 3.e4 d6 4.Bb5+

An opening nuance. Trading light-squared bishops is not really in keeping with Black's strategic plans (dark-squared Bs another matter altogether = highly desirable). And blocking with the knight misplaces this piece very slightly as often it would prefer the orbit ...Na6-c7 to support a ...b7-b5 pawn break in the future.

4...Nd7 5.a4 Be7 6.Nf3 Ngf6 7.Nc3 0–0 8.0–0 Ne8

Renewing the idea of a potential Bishop trade on g5 with a future ...Bg5. Also, planning ...Nc7 or ...g6 and ...Ng7, supporting an ...f5 break. Typically with such a locked pawn centre, both sides will be relying on lots of piece regrouping to support their eventuall strategic pawn breaks.

9.Nd2 g6

Perhaps 9...Bg5!? immediately. Black also needed to consider a plan against White's idea of further advancing the a-pawn. In the game, this became a real problem for Black, and will likely be the source of some improvements for him.

10.a5 Bg5 11.a6

I don't think this should have been allowed, although 11...a6 leaves a big hole on b6 and a constrained Q-side to deal with. Likely improvements needed on moves 9/10.

11...bxa6 12.Bxa6 Bxa6 13.Rxa6 Nb6 14.Qe2 Nc7 15.Ra1 a5? **D**

This pawn will be a source of trouble to Black regardless of where it resides on the a-file, but Miton demonstrates that it becomes more immediately vulnerable the further it advances. Black should probably settle for getting on with ...f5 and recognizing the fact that the a-pawn will always be a nuisance.

16.Nb3! Bxc1 17.Rfxc1 a4 18.Nd2 Qd7 19.Ra3!

As David Gordon, our erstwhile giant killer (he finally succumbed in round 3, see above, but not without providing the commentary room with some entertainment) put in during my analysis, "Let the siege of the a-pawn begin!" Well put, as there is little Black can do to save it in the long run. Black seeks some form of counterplay, but it proves to be inadequate.

19...f5 20.f3! fxe4 21.fxe4

Maintaining the centre, and keeping Black's knights at bay.

21...Rf4 22.Rca1 Rb8 23.h3 c4!?

Recognizing his plight, Ivkov makes a last bid for counterplay on the b6-g1 diagonal. White has provided luft for his King, however, with h3, and is well aware of not allowing Black anything approaching counterplay.

24.Nxa4 Qb5 25.Qe3! Nxa4 26.Rxa4 Qxb2?!

Dubious is too harsh perhaps, as otherwise, Black will simply be down 2 pawns (when c4 drops), but Black's pieces are simply no match for White's Queen with many targest available (including Black's King!).

27.Rb1 Qxb1+ 28.Nxb1 Rxb1+ 29.Kh2 Nb5 30.Rxc4 h5 31.Rc8+ Kg7 32.Rb8 h4

Weaving a mating net, but White predictably breaks through first.

33.Rb7+ Kf6 34.Qb6! Kg5 35.Qd8+ Rf6 36.c4 Nc3 37.Rxb1 Nxb1 38.g3 1–0.

Board 5 saw GM Viktor Mikhalesky (Israel), who turned 35 yesterday (see earlier Blog posts) turn a 30-40 move win into an extended tussle which ultimately landed in 2 Queens vs. 1 Queen, and a win in 101 moves! That kept several of us there until the witching hour, but I am glad to see that he actually managed to win (after missing several simpler chances along the way), and his opponent, Rick Lahaye, of the Netherlands, was still smiling when the game was over, so he seemed a genuinely good sport about it as well.

As mentioned, Gordon finally lost to GM Sipke Ernst, and stands at 50%. Voloaca also was ground down (against his 3rd GM pairing, Russia's Anton Shomoev) and also stands at 50%.

Current standings posted here, and battle set to begin shortly for Round 4. I hope to provide earlier blogging results for this and subsequent rounds (perhaps some live if possible, and enough time between spectator questions and interaction). It's been most enjoyable so far, and today we get some of the big guns going face-to-face. In fact, Board 1 has Bu vs. Short, rankings #1 and #2, so we will see what happens very soon!

Thanks and back again soon with more chess - cheers!

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