Saturday, July 7, 2007

RBS, part 2

No moves availalble from GM Nigel Short's win on board 2 (neither player used MonRoi devices, I am speculating?), so on to board 3:

Board 3) Mikanovic,G (2303) - Milov,V (2665): King's Indian

1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.e4 0–0 6.Be2 Na6!?

By transposition, the trusty KID has been reached. Black's 6th is a modern alternative to the more usual 6...e5 lines. Tends to be flexible and creative.

7.0–0 e5 8.Re1 Qe8!?

In the commentary room, I admitted to a lack of experience in this line, and pointed out that all would undoubtedly become clear in the later middlegame (this did in fact happen!) The more natural 8...Qe7 may run into N/c3-d5 in some positions. The Q on the e-line puts pressure against e4, and forces a White reaction.

9.Bf1 Bg4 10.d5

Pressure was mounting on the White centre, and this resolution tends to favour Black in some ways. For one, his R/f8 no longer need move to find a purpose - a future ...f5 advance will find it very well posted indeed. There is a problem on Black's Q-side, however, as the N/a6 cannot easily enter the game - 10...Nc5? 11.b4 just forces a retreat. Milov finds an interesting attempt to solve the Q-side issues, but the computer in the commentary room didn't care much for the idea.

10...Nb4!?? (DIAGRAM) 11.Be2

A human response to the positional threat of 11...Bxf3 12.gxf3 (12.Qxf3?? Nc2), but the greedy 11.Qb3!? might be superior. The amount of gamescore I had to work with in the commentary room included this position, and after 11.Qb3, we couldn't find anything clear for Black.

a) 11...Bxf3 12.Qxb4 Bg4 13.Qxb7 has Black scrambling for compensation
b) 11...c5 12.a3 Bxf3 13.axb4 and 14.bxc5 gives White a clear advantage
c) 11...a5 12.a3 Bxf3 13.gxf3 (13.axb4 axb4! 14.Rxa8 Qxa8 looks OK for Black) 13...Na6 14.Qxb7 looked better for White to me, though Black may get some positional compensation later with play against White's compromised K-side, and with ideas of ...Nc5 and ...a4 to bind the Q-side. Still, a pawn is a pawn, and the comp doesn't look completely clear to me. Comments?

This was my biggest analytical headache of the day - not so terrible, really, but when White plays otherwise and ends up losing, I inevitably get asked, "But didn't 11.Qb3 just win a pawn?" Well maybe, in fact probably, but humans are not machines, and grabbing pawns on N7 (old algebraic-speak) has often been associated with poison.... We may all have to wait for a future game with 11.Qb3 and see what happens!

11...a5 12.h3 Bd7 13.a3 Na6 14.b3

Avoiding a bind with ...a5-a4. Notice how Black's Q supports the a4-square (important here), and also supports the h5-square to support an f5-advance (important when Black's knight arrives on h5 shortly). See, I knew ...Qe8 would eventually be vindicated!

14...Nh5 15.Rb1 Nc5 16.b4 axb4 17.axb4 Na4 18.Qc2

This was where my moves abandoned me this afternoon - we (spectators + yours truly) concluded that White was slightly worse as Black had an active position with several clear plans on the K-side: ...f7-f5, ...N/h5-f4. Meanwhile White's reactive Q-side play is considerably behind.
Milov eventually won in another 53 moves!

18...Nf4 19.Bxf4 exf4 20.Nxa4 Rxa4 21.Bd3 Qe7 22.Qd2 Ra3! 23.Rec1 g5 24.c5 h5

This looks a bit loose, but Black's pawns are aiming for a serious target, and the N/f3 doesn't have a lot of useful retreat squares at the moment.

25.cxd6 cxd6 26.Rc7 Qd8 (DIAGRAM) 27.Rxd7!?

Mikanovic tries to make a fight of it, but this is probably insufficient. Still, something like 27.Rxb7 g4! looks much scarier. Sacking the Ex has the practical advantage of shutting down most of Black's immediate attack for a bit of material.

27...Qxd7 28.Nxg5 Qe7 29.Nf3 Rc8 30.Rd1 Be5! 31.Qe2 Rcc3 32.h4! Qf6 33.Ng5 Qg6 34.Qf1

A bit mysterious, but g2 can be weak in some lines, and an ...f4-f3 advance will not come with tempo now. I toyed with fantasy here - B/d3-b5-e8! was one dream, or B/d3-e2-f3, and Q/f1-e2, but these ideas are either too time-consuming or too unlikely. Black's material is simply starting to count for too much now.

34...Rab3 35.Kh1 f6 36.Nf3

36.Ne6 looks nice, but 37...Qg4 picks off the h-pawn for no return. White simply doesn't have active pieces to give up further material.

36...Rxb4 37.Rb1 Rxb1 38.Qxb1 Qf7 39.Qb5 Kf8 40.Be2 Rc5 41.Qa4 Qe8 42.Qa7 Qc8 43.Kh2 Bc3 44.Qa3 Ke7 45.Qa4 Ra5 46.Qb3 Qc7 47.Qc2 Kd8 48.e5!?

An interesting try - White's pieces gain some scope on the light squares once this pawn disappears - but it is all rather desparate looking in the long run.

48...Bxe5 49.Qg6 Qe7 50.Qxh5 Ra2 51.Bd3 Rxf2 52.Qg6 Kc7 (DIAGRAM) 53.h5

Maybe 53.Bf5!? is a last attempt to deny Black's bishop defence of the h8-square. Black should be able to simply recycle his rook for defence: R/f2-a2-a8, but it may cause Black a few moments of concern. Black's 53rd addresses this issue at the cost of one of his f-pawns.

53...f5! 54.h6 Bc3! 55.Bxf5 Qf6 56.Kh3 Qxg6

The rest is wrapping up. Black's b-pawn proves to be a touchdown.

57.Bxg6 b5 58.h7 b4 59.Ng5 Rf1 60.Bc2 Rc1 61.Ba4 Bf6 62.Kg4 Rh1 63.Bc2 Kd8 64.Ne6+ Ke7 65.Nxf4 Bg7 66.Kf3 Rc1 67.Bd3 b3 68.Ng6+ Kf6 69.h8Q Bxh8 70.Nxh8 b2 71.Ng6 Rc3! 0–1.

Canadian Open Round 1 PGN now available

The PGN file for the Canadian Open Round 1 is now available courtesy

The file is available at:

Canadian Open Blitz Snippets on Youtube

The blitz tournament is underway - Youtube snippets can be found at:

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!

A "picture" of Top 40 Board Round 1Results

A picture of the Top 40 Board Round 1 results, straight from the arbiter's hands.

Round 1 Pairings for the Canadian Open

Round 1 Pairings for the 2007 Canadian can be found at:

According to arbiter Jonathan Berry, "There were 134 boards, plus one extra forfeit and nine people who took half-point byes, so about 278 players. The round started at 3 pm, an hour late, thanks to me! All the foreign stars made it through the gauntlet of Canadian Immigration. The highest-ranked no-show was # 34"

Round 1 results should be available shortly.

Jonathan will be posting information directly from the tournament war-room to:

Deen checking in

Be with you all shortly....
A few pictures from the Canadian Open ...
Round 1 is still underway - we hope to get you results as soon as they are available.

The titled player cards (33 in all) were the centre of attaction during the registration process

Nigel Short at the opening ceremonies

IM Reprintsev making a pensive posture during a skittles game.

Deen Hergott, Canadian Open Chess Correspondent

A picture of Deen Hergott, our chess correspondent, proving a lecture in the Albert Room. Deen will be providing coverage of the event, which will be posted on this blog.

Round 1 of the 2007 Canadian Open is now underway.

After a delayed start (3:00pm EST) Round 1 of the 2007 Canadian Open is now underway

Photos of the opening can be found at:

Real-time coverage will be available shortly at:

A link to the results will be avaiable shortly.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles: 22 GMs arrive

In the days leading up to the 2007 Canadian Open Chess Championship, its 22 grandmasters from 15 countries arrived in dribs and drabs. It was all the organizers could do to have volunteers meet many of them at the airport and train station.

GM Nigel Short was the first of the 2007 Canadian Open's grandmasters to arrive in Ottawa, touching down on July 4. The organizers have very much enjoyed meeting him. He and his daughter are charming, and have spent some time sight-seeing in Ottawa. I was told they were interested in visiting the Cisco Systems Bluesfest. They went for a walk in Gatineau Park on Friday, and GM Short attended the closing reception of the 2007 Canadian Youth Chess Championship, at the residence of the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey. GM Short had also made an appearance at the CYCC.

GM Sergey Tiviakov arrived the next day from the Netherlands, and said he was very happy to pay his first visit to Canada. A friendly, fluent English speaker and keen world traveler, GM Tiviakov played tourist on Friday, going for a good walk past Parliament Hill, the National Gallery of Canada and other attractions. He was happy to see the changing of the guard and he commented that he like the architecture of the buildings he saw.

GMs Sandipan Chanda and Abhijit Kunte of India were in good spirits when they arrived. Both had come from Philadelphia, having played at the World Open. GM Sandipan was one of a batch of GMs who had tied there for first, with 6.5/9. I asked whether the stop in Philadelphia had helped them get used to the time difference between EST and India. GM Chanda said was getting into the groove, but that he had been sleepy a lot in Philadelphia.

GM Mark Bluvshtein took the train Friday morning from Toronto, traveling coincidentally with FM Mike Dougherty. A few hours later, GM Bluvshtein was giving his kick-off simul for the 2007 Canadian Open. His final score after about 3.5 hours: 15 wins and three draws, I was told. Ottawa's Karoly Szalay was one of players who nicked him for a draw.

Three of the four Russian GMs playing in the event had a long voyage. They arrived in Ottawa late Friday night, having flown from Moscow to Amsterdam to Montreal, where they got on a Voyageur bus to Ottawa. We're hoping that they'll feel somewhat rested after a night at the Ottawa Marriott, before they sit down for Round One.