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)

Standings after Round 6

GM Suat Atalik andGM David Howell lead the field with 5 wins each.
Round 6 standings and Round 6 PGN are now available.

Games can be viewed online at:

Round 6: Most Interesting Moments

In the game between GM Xiangzhi Bu (China) and FM Daniel Rensch (USA), the following position was reached after 21...Qe6. With an extra pawn and great pressure along the f-file, White is clearly pressing. But Bu found a tremendous knockout blow to win on the spot.

After the brilliant 22.Qd6!!, Black is powerless. The threat is simply 23.Nxc8+, winning a piece. 22...Qxd6?? wins a Queen but allows mate in 1 with 23.Rxf7#. 22...Bd7 23.Rxf7+ Qxf7, and now a discovered check by White's knight, say 24. Nd5+, wins material on f7 and d7 with an easy win.

Black tried 22...Rxe7, but again 23.Rxf7+ followed, with the point that 23...Qxf7 24.Rxf7+ Kxf7 25.Qd5+, spears the R/a8, so Black Resigned.

Note that in the original position, 22.Rxf7+ doesn't work, because 22...Qxf7 23.Rxf7+ Kxf7 24.Qd5+ can be met by 24...Be6! Only after luring Black's e8-rook to e7 does Qd5+ actually win material - very clever!


Something very strange happened in the game between GM's Howell and Mikhalevsky.
The position below was reached after 20.Rfd1, in a c3-Sicilian. The first dozen moves or so were known theory (to me), then Howell tried marching his a-pawn up the board to create some light-squared pressure on the Q-side. The main themes I had been discussion in the commentary room revolved around the usual IQP (isolated Queen's pawn) themes, and the pressure against Black's N/c6.

Black has more guys lined up on d4 than White defenders, but cannot capture at the moment due to the pin along the f3-b7 diagonal. This led to some discussion of moving Black's Queen elsewhere, and I was voting for 20...Qa8!?, with likely a small disadvantage at most. Other squares seemed to have problems - the c-file running into a rook on c1 and b6 running into the nasty advance d4-d5.

So you can imagine my surprise (and my loyal listeners) to see that the next few moves were 20...Qb6?? 21.d5! Nd4 (this must be played, but I didn't trust it) 22.Qe4 e5 23.f4! Splat.

White wins minimum of a piece, and likely much more in practice. Mikhalevsky played on for awhile, but was down the kitchen sink when he finally threw in the towel.

So what happened? I ran into Mikhalevsky for a few minutes while waiting for a new .pgn batch update, and he said that he simply overlooked 22.Qe4. Obviously he overlooked something, but I am still wondering why he would voluntarily put his Queen on such a dangerous looking square like b6? Well, I can only guess that he was deliberately seeking complications in the hopes of a full point. He was actually in remarkably good spirits considering the seriousness of his gaffe, and I have to admit that I found his outlook very refreshing, and wish him well in his remaining games. Hopefully he won't feel too badly about me showing this terrible blunder after his brilliant win yesterday. I guess I just wanted to let all the blog readers know that GM's are human too (and completely fallible). As a teacher, I would not be surprised to learn that Mikhalevsky will include this example for his own students in some way!

To wrap-up, two games that caught my eye:

GM Suat Atalik (Turkey) - GM Tomas Likavsky: Queen's Gambit

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 a6!?

Nearly anything is playable these days. With the popularity of the 4...a6 Slav, Black may be hoping for a useful transposition to something similar.

4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 c6 6.e3 Bd6 7.Bg3 Ne7!?

Rather than wooden development with 7...Nf6, this gives Black the option of contesting a White bishop on the b1-h7 diagonal.

8.Qc2 Bf5 9.Qb3 Ra7!?

This got a chuckle out of today's specs, but actually this idea is quite common in those 4...a6 Slav lines I mentioned earlier. Black's idea is that if White's Queen has to stay on b3 to keep b7 occupied, Black doesn't mind using his rook for the job. It still looks pretty silly though, doesn't it?

10.Nf3 0–0 11.Be2 Re8 12.0–0 Bxg3

Otherwise, Black can't develop his Q-side properly.

13.hxg3 Nd7 14.Nh4 Be6 15.Qc2 Ra8

The dance continues.

16.Bd3 Nf8 17.b4 g5

White was planning a calm minority attack (18.a4, 19.b5 (or maybe Rab1 first)), but Black has violent intentions on the other flank.

18.Nf3 Neg6 19.a4 g4 20.Nd2 h5 21.b5 h4 22.gxh4 Qxh4 23.bxc6 bxc6 24.Ne2! Kg7 25.Rfb1 Nd7 26.Nf1! Rh8

All very consistent play for Black, but can he really break through White's solid position, with those knights ready to hold the fort?

27.Nfg3 Qh2+ 28.Kf1 Nh4?

"Go long!" works much better in football. Here, Black's forces have ventured too far into White territory, and the Black Queen in particular is soon in serious trouble.

29.Nf4 Rhc8 30.Ke2 Nxg2?? 31.Ngh5+ 1–0.

Oops. After 31...K moves, 32.Rh1 will cost Black the Queen.

I happened to witness this scrappy fight between two young talents in post-mortem analyis - Thomas was very unlucky to lose in the end, but also mentioned that his position was by far the more difficult to play (despite the material edge) with only a few minutes on his clock. (I'm guessing that even with the increment, he never managed to bank any time).

IM Thomas Roussel-Roozmon (Montreal) - GM Valery Aveskulov (Ukraine)

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.g3 d6 6.Bg2 Bd7 7.Nc3 g6 8.0–0 Bg7 9.Nc2 Qc8 10.e4 Bh3 11.Qe2 h5 12.Bxh3 Qxh3 13.f3 Rc8 14.Bd2 Nd7 15.Qg2 Qe6 16.b3 h4 17.g4 h3 18.Qe2 Nc5 19.Rac1 g5 20.Nd5 Qg6 21.Be1 e6 22.Nde3 Be5 23.Bg3 Qf6 24.Rcd1 Rd8

I walked in around this point. Thomas didn't seem to be too happy with this position, chiefly because of his compromised K-side - he just felt that Black's pieces were always going to be better with strong dark-square control in the centre, and his f3-pawn and holey K-side would always require attention. While this assessment may be true, most of the variations they were trying out seemed to end in rather unclear chances....maybe White's position is optically worse than it actually is!?

25.Rd2 Bf4 26.Bxf4 Qxf4 27.Nd4 Ne5

Certainly natural-looking, but Aveskulov pointed out an interesting possibility here: 28.Nb5!? a6 29.Nc7+! (29.Nxd6+?! Ke7! 30.b4 Rxd6 31.Rxd6 Kxd6 32.bxc5+ Ke7!, and with ...Rd8 coming, Black has a very nice position). 29...Kf8 30.Ncd5!, trapping Black's Queen! Black will be forced to play ...Nxf3+ at some point to resuce the lady, but the resulting positions are very good for White. Black would probably have to sacrifice the a7-pawn after 28.Nb5, but Black should likely just prevent all of this with 27...a6!

As it turns out, Black allows White a N/d4-b5 in another position shortly, so Black still had to give up some material on the Q-side for nebulous play against White's King.

28.Nd1 Ng6?!

Thomas rightly pointed out (and his opp agreed) that the knight is very well placed on e5 (attacking f3) and should stay there. It may look nice if it arrives on f4, but will it really be perfoming a useful task there?

29.Qe3 Qf6 30.Nb5! Ke7 31.Nxa7

Black never did get around to playing ...a6, so a pawn for White anyways.

31...Ne5 32.Nb5 Rh4 33.Rxd6

It should be safe enough to take this second pawn...if only White was able to forbid tactics for the rest of the game!


Black has admitted lost the thread, but his position is still sufficiently active to cause some practical problems.

34.Rf2 Nxg4!? 35.fxg4 Rxg4+ 36.Kf1 Qe5 37.Qc3 Rxe4 38.Qxe5 Rxe5 39.Ndc3 Re3 40.Rfd2 f5 41.R6d4

Thomas missed a nice chance here with 41.Kf2! The only reason I spotted it was their discussion of the following line: 41.b4 Na6 42.Rd7+ Kf6 43.Nd6 Rh8!, planning ...Rh4-f4+. This looked worrisome to the 3 of us, while the dispassionate computers will undoubtedly hold up their love of the White position (with extra material) until their horizon effect lets them down.

The above variation may be better for White, but throwing in 41.Kf2 f4 makes it almost a certainty after 42.b4 Na6 43.Rd7+ Kf6 44.Nd6, and there is no longer a rook maneuver along the h-file to infiltrate White's position (and square e4 is a big problem for Black to boot). So this was one way to get a nice edge.

41...g4 42.b4 Na6 43.c5 g3 44.hxg3 Rxg3 45.Rh4 Rcg8 46.a3

Even here White is probably winning (or at least significantly better), but after a few second-rate moves, Black puts on the gas and even finds a nice combo to steal the whole point. Thomas was most critical of this move (46.a3) and 48.Rc2. He was clearly disappointed, but took the loss fairly well otherwise given his young age and relative inexperience. I think these qualities will stand him very well in the future.

46...Rg1+ 47.Ke2 R8g3 48.Rc2 f4

Black may be down a piece (and his knight not really participating), but his active forces are incredibly irritating to deal with. It must have been very frustrating to be so clearly on the defensive, when holding a material advantage.

49.Rh7+ Kf8 50.Nd1? f3+ 51.Kd2 Kg8! 52.Rh4 R3g2+ 53.Kc1 Rxd1+! 54.Kxd1 Rg1+ 55.Kd2 f2 0–1.

A tough loss for Thomas, but I am sure he will rebound....he has made good progress in the past few years, and still has a long road ahead of him.

Round 6: And Then There Were Two

Despite the bloodiness of the round, (only 4 draws on the top 25 boards, three on 1-2-3, the other between local Expert Peter Hum, on this event's Organizing Committee, and apparent Drawing Machine :-), Nikolay Noritsyn, of Toronto), the big logjam at the top has reduced to two joint leaders, GM David Howell of England, and GM Suat Atalik of Turkey. Both have 5 points out of 6 games.

Once again, GM Short's game was unavailable (I hope for posterity, the organizers are saving the handwritten scoresheets and adding to .pgn files later!), but I have heard rumours to the effect that his game tomorrow should be...I am not sure why, but will be eager to find out! He apparently played a solid Nimzo-Indian against GM Rytchagov and a draw was agreed. GM Sergey Tiviakov was allowed to offer a draw before move 30 this round (for huminatarian reasons, he had some delicate oral surgery performed earlier in the day), and GM Alex Yermolinsky, playing the Black side of a Caro-Kann decided not to torture him (literally), and agreed an early peace. Only the game between Canadian GM Mark Bluvshtein and GM Kamil Miton of Poland (on Board 2) had a few fireworks, but they were mostly theoretical in nature, and that soon petered out as well:

Bluvshtein - Miton: Slav Defence

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.f3 c5!?

An interesting alternative to the heavily analyzed piece sac, 7...Bb4 8.e4 Bxe4 9.fxe4 Nxe4 10.Bd2 Qxd4 11.Nxe4 Qxe4+ 12.Qe2 Bxd2+ 13.Kxd2, where the theoretical evaluation has flipped back and forth several times over the years of praxis.

8.e4 cxd4 9.exf5 Bb4 10.Bxc4 dxc3 11.Qxd8+ Kxd8 12.0–0

I am reasonably certain that I tried 12.Ke2!? in this position against IM David Cummings of Wales (or is it England?) at the Toronto International Open in the early 1990's. That game was also drawn, but we spent some time trying to decide where White's King belonged, and Mark's move is likely a bit better to maintain options of immediate pressure along the e-file on the e6-pawn.

12...cxb2 13.Bxb2 Ke7 14.fxe6 fxe6 15.Nd3!? Rc8! 16.Bb3 a5

I was advocating 16...Nc6 as likely in the commentary room. 17.Nxb4 Nxb4 18.Ba3 a5 is nothing special, as attacks on e6 with Rfe1 can be met laterally on the 3rd rank now. English GM Matthew Sadler in his Chess Press booklet on the Slav recommends this move, so it may be that I recalled seeing it there as well. Miton's choice is also quite reasonable, maintaining the orbit ...N/b8-d7-c5!? in reserve perhaps, attacking B/b3 and guarding P/e6.

17.Nxb4 axb4 18.Rfe1 Rc6 19.Bxf6+

Playing to flatten the position, but there isn't much else. A draw is likely just around the corner.

19...Kxf6 20.Re4 Na6 21.Rae1 Nc5

Same destination, different route.

22.Rf4+! Ke7 23.Rxb4 Nxb3 24.Rxb7+

This intermezzo wins back the pawn and leads to dead equality. White's 22nd was important to ultimately force Black's King onto a tactically vulnerable square. Otherwise, Black would have been able to win material after Rxb4 with a ...Nd3 fork of rooks.

24...Kf6 25.Rxb3 Rxa4 26.Rbe3

Now the players shuffle pieces until move 30 (oops, did I say that?). I'm sure they were just gauging there final winning chances (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)...

26...Rac4 27.R1e2 Kf7 28.Kf2 Rc3 29.Rxc3 Rxc3 30.h3 Kf6 31.Kg3 ½–½.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Round 6 underway

Round 6 of the 2007 Canadian open is now underway. Monroi live coverage is available here

GM Andrey V Rychagov and GM Nigel D. Short on Board 1

GM Sergey Tiviakov, GM Alex Yermolinsky on Board 3

Monroi live coverage for Round 6 of the Canadian Open

MonRoi will provide live coverage of the top boards for Round 6 of the Canadian Open which commences as 6pm EDT.
Live coverage will be available here.
Photo: Canadian IM Tom O'Donnell getting ready for Round 5

Pairings for Round 6

Pairings for Round 6 are available at:

The top 10 boards:
  1. GM Andrey V Rychagov, GM Nigel D. Short
  2. GM Mark Bluvshtein, GM Kamil Miton
  3. GM Sergey Tiviakov, GM Alex Yermolinsky
  4. GM David Howell, GM Victor Mikhalevski
  5. GM Suat Atalik, GM Tomas Likavsky
  6. GM Xiangzhi Bu, FM Daniel Rensch
  7. GM Vadim Milov,IM Ekaterina Atalik
  8. FM Lefong Hua, GM Chanda Sandipan
  9. GM Anton Shomoev, Liam Henry
  10. IM Thomas Roussel-Roozmon, GM Valeriy Aveskulov

Alphabetical pairings are available at:

Round 6 starts at 6:00 pm, Wednesday July 11, 2007.

Standings after Round 5 are available at:

Yermolinsky lecture today at 1pm

GM Alex Yermolinsky will be lecturing on his insights on the Classical Sicilian at 1 PM EDT in the Albert Room. Cost is $20 CAD at the door.

GMs... and future GMs?

From left to right: promising Ottawa player Agastya Kalra, IM Thomas Roussel Roozmon, GM Abhijit Kunte and GM Sandipan Chanda conduct a post-mortem on Chanda-Roussel Roozmon (it was a draw) in the 2007 Canadian Open skittles room.

Canada's best young players rub shoulders with the 2500 crowd... you gotta like it.

David Begoray interview

Chess Today, Irish GM Alex Baburin's daily mass e-mail of chess games and news, went out yesterday night with the subject line: "CT-2436 - Short, Tiviakov and Begoray lead Canadian Open..."

Its global readership was surely familiar with super-GMs Nigel Short and Sergei Tiviakov, who had scored 3.5 points after four rounds. But who's that Begoray guy?

That would be be David Begoray, shown at left. He's a Burlington, Ont., player with a CFC rating of 2063 whose 3.5/4 earned him the white pieces in Round 5 against Indian GM Abhijit Kunte, last year's Canadian Open co-champion.

Not a bad start at all for David's second tournament in seven years. A night-shift worker, David has few opportunities to play in weekend Swisses or even in club events. David says was prompted to enter the 2007 Canadian Open because of the event had confirmed a slew of GMs. "There's no two ways about it," he says.

After a first-round draw, David scored wins against two 1900 players and then against Ottawa master Dusan Simic. As a result, he was paired in Round 5 against GM Kunte.

[Date "2007.07.10"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Begoray, David"]
[Black "Kunte, Abhijit"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2063"]
[BlackElo "2532"]
[PlyCount "59"]
[EventDate "2007.07.07"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Bd3 d5 6. Nge2 c5 7. O-O cxd4 8.
exd4 Nc6 9. Bg5 Be7 10. cxd5 Nxd5 11. Bxe7 Ncxe7 12. Qd2 b6 13. Rad1 Bb7 14.
Ne4 Ng6 15. Bb1 Qe7 16. f4 Nh4 17. N2g3 g6 18. Rde1 Rad8 19. Rf2 Rfe8 20. Rfe2
Qc7 21. Rf2 Qd7 22. Rd1 f5 23. Nc3 Nf6 24. Qd3 Qg7 25. h3 g5 26. Qe3 gxf4 27.
Qxf4 Ng6 28. Qd2 Kh8 29. Qe2 Nh4 30. Rd3 Ba6 0-1

Well OK, the GM stopped the Canadian expert's winning streak pretty convincingly. And quickly too. "He used no time," David told listeners last night in the spectators room where IM Deen Hergott presides. "He used about the time it takes to move the pieces. I was really happy when it (GM Kunte's clock) went below 1:40."

"Me, I'm just milling pieces around and praying," David said.

Result aside, David enjoyed his encouner with GM Kunte. "He a very nice guy," David said. "It was a pleasure to play with him and discuss the game afterwards."

"My tournament's basically made," David added. "I beat a master and I got to play a GM... the rest is gravy."

-- by Peter Hum

Round 5: Wrap-up

From the top: Boards

1) Short - Tiviakov, drawn
2) Hoang Thong Tu - Xiangzhi Bu, drawn in 34...Black slightly better, but drifted into equality
3) Noritsyn - Milov, Sicilian, drawn in 64...tough battle, Black tried to grind out an endgame, but Nikolai hung tough.
4) Reprintsev - Miton, 1.g4(!), 0-1 in 37....I know the fans would have liked to see a White win here, but Caissa would have been sorely offended, I think. The Ukrainian IM would certainly fit right in with Mssrs. Suttles, Day, etc....more chutzpah than I have!
5) Mikhalevsky's win - see below

Other noteworthy Canadian results: Thomas Roussel Roozmon's draw with GM Sandipan (India), Tomas Krnan's win over Lawrence Day, and Liam Henry's win over Cuban GM de la Paz (that's 2 great results in a row for Liam - nice job!)

I don't know if/how/when the Short-Tiviakov gamescore will become available (several people asked me), but if someone lets me know, or I gain access to it within the next few days, I will inform people and/or post here....see u all soon in Round 6!

Full results and standings:

Round 5 PGN file:

Online viewable games:

Round 5: A Real Gem

Mikhalevski - Sambuev: Queen's Gambit, Tarrasch

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 c5

Black eschews the typical Catalan setups and offers to transpose to the QGD, Tarrasch.

5.Nf3 Nc6 6.0–0 Be7 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Nc3 0–0 9.Bg5 cxd4 10.Nxd4 h6 11.Be3 Re8 12.Rc1 Bf8

All very theoretical so far. It is amazing how many IQP positions I have had in the commentary room so far in this tournament. Either it makes an appearance much more often than I imagined at the GM level, or it just happens to belong to the repertoire of a surprising number of players at this particular event.


Connecting Black's pawns but creating a valuable strategic outpost for pieces on c5. And naturally there is still concrete play against the now backward c6-pawn in many lines. I have always found these positions much easier to play as White, but of course, Black's position can spring to life quickly if one is lax, so it pays to be vigilant at all times against players who wield the initiative well.

13...bxc6 14.Bd4 Bg4 15.f3 Bd7 16.Na4 g6 17.Nc5 Bf5 18.g4 Bc8

Several people were not impressed with White's bishop at this point, but its imprisonment is merely temporary.

19.Qa4 Qd6 20.e3 h5!?

From what I have seen of Black's games, he is not a guy who just likes to sit around! Still, this aggression did not really achieve what I think he had been hoping for.

21.g5 Nh7 22.f4 h4 23.e4 h3 24.e5 Qd8 25.Bf3 Bxc5?!

This hands the dark squares over to White for good. Agreed, Black does not have a very comfortable game, and the c6-pawn is a major nuisance, but I think here we have a case of "the cure is worse than the disease".

26.Rxc5 Bd7

27.e6!! Rxe6 28.Bc3

Opening up the long diagonal is not such a difficult concept on its own, but recognizing that it is worth a small investment in material without the ability to state a forced line of play is where Mikhalevsky's judgment really shines. Indeed, by the end of the game, he throws another two pawns into the mix for further line opening opportunities.

28...Kf8 29.Qd4 Ke8 30.Ba5 Qb8 31.Rcc1!

Retreating moves are often the most difficult to find. This clears the a3-f8 diagonal for the bishop, and reconnects White's rooks.

31...Nf8 32.Bb4 Qb7 33.Bc5 Rc8 34.f5! gxf5 35.Qh8 Re7


Beautiful and elegant. In the commentary room, we only considered 36.Bh5 (threatening g5-g6) Be6 37.Rce1 Kd7 38.Bxe7 Kxe7, which is also very good for White, but the text ends the game instantly. Another example of what I think of as move order permutations (probably a throwback to my degree in Mathematics) - in fact, we were using some of the same moves and themes, but simply in a less effective manner.

36...fxg6 37.Rfe1 1–0.

Absolutely crushing. 37...Be6 runs into 38.Rxe6! now, so Black simply has no options but to resign.