Monday, January 14, 2019

Old Fort Bay Invitational part 4

The next game ended up not really being a game. I was playing black against a player who was doing well in the event, having gone undefeated through the first eight rounds. I knew if I pushed I could probably win, but was it worth the effort when I could seal up first place without really risking anything? It was the third round of the day also. Two games in a day is tiring, but three is exhausting. I figured it could be better for the next day to get some rest.

Hanna Jr.,Philip (1699) - Cross,Ted (1991) [C10]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (9), 10.03.2018

1.e4 e6 
I almost never player the French, having done so just once previously, but I wanted to avoid any preparation on his part.
2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.Bd3 c5 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.0-0 0-0 10.Bg5 Qb6?! [10...b6 11.Qe2 Bb7 12.Rad1 Qc7 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.Be4 Rfd8 15.Bxb7 Qxb7=]
Up to his last move I had looked at all this in my preparation, but here I forgot the proper move and got it mixed up with a different line. I figured I hadn't played correctly, so I took this moment to offer the draw.

I knew I would push for a win in the next game, since it was my last with white. My opponent was the current Bahamas national champion, so he wouldn't be easy to beat.

Cross,Ted (1991) - Small,Byron (1712) [C55]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (10), 11.03.2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Be7 5.0-0 d6 6.h3 Na5 7.Bb3 Nxb3 8.axb3 h6 9.Re1 0-0 10.d4 exd4 11.Qxd4 a6 12.Nc3 c6 13.Bf4 Be6 14.Re2 d5 
I really dislike these types of positions. I find it difficult to come up with a good plan. It's hard to win these kinds of have to be really patient and wait for your opponent to blunder, or perhaps even take risks in order to play for a win.
[15.exd5 Nxd5 16.Nxd5=]
[>=15...c5 16.Qd1 d4 17.Rd2 Qb6 18.Nd5 Bxd5 19.exd5 Nxd5=/+]
16.exd5 cxd5 17.Ne5 Rc8 18.Nd3 Qd7 19.Bh2 Bf5 20.Nf4?! 
[>=20...Bc5 21.Qd2 Rxe2 22.Rxe2 d4 23.Na2 Ne4 24.Qe1 Bd6 25.Nd3=/+]
21.Nfxd5 Bxh2+?! 
[>=21...Nxd5 22.Nxd5 Rxe2 23.Rxe2 Rxc2 24.Rxc2 Bxc2 25.Nf6+ gxf6 26.Bxd6=]
22.Kxh2 Nxd5 23.Nxd5 Rxe2 24.Rxe2 Re8 25.Rxe8+ Qxe8 26.c4 Qe4 27.Qxe4 Bxe4 
Okay, so I come to an endgame up a pawn, but it isn't so simple to actually win it.
28.Ne3 f5 29.f3 Bd3 30.g3 Kf7 31.b4 Ke6 32.f4 g5 33.Kg2 gxf4 34.gxf4 Kf6 35.Kg3 Kf7 36.c5 Ke6 37.Kf3 Kf7 38.h4 h5? 
I breathed a sigh of relief here. I needed to bring my king over to the queen side if I wanted to make progress, but I was afraid to do so while he had a path with his king through h5 to attack my kingside pawns. With this mistake he sealed off that route and freed up my king to roam.
39.Kf2 Ke6 40.Ke1 Be4 41.Kd2 Kd7 42.Kc3 Kc6 43.Kd4 
[43.Nc4!? Kd5 44.Nd6+-]
43...Kb5 44.Kc3? 
[44.Nc4 Kxb4 45.Nd6 Bc2 46.Nxb7 Kb5 47.Nd6+ Kc6 48.b4+-]
44...b6 45.Nc4?? 
I struggled to see the tactics correctly here, and this mistake could have cost me the win. [45.Kd4! Kxb4 (45...bxc5+ 46.bxc5 Kc6 47.Ke5 Kxc5 48.Nxf5+-) 46.cxb6 Ka5 47.Nxf5 Bf3 48.Kc5+-]
45...bxc5 46.Nd6+ Kc6 47.Nxe4 fxe4 48.bxc5 Kxc5 49.f5 Kd5 50.f6 Ke6 51.Kd4 Kxf6 52.Kxe4 Ke6?? 
All of this was pretty much forced, and here he could have drawn with the simple a5.[52...a5=] 
53.Kf4 Kf6 54.b4 Kg6 55.Ke5 Kg7 56.Kf5 Kh6 57.Kf6 Kh7 58.Kg5 Kg7 59.Kxh5 Kh7 60.Kg5 Kg7 61.Kf5 1-0

So, I was fortunate to get that last necessary victory and I knew I had first place sealed up now. So the only question in the final round was whether my opponent would want to fight it out or not, because I didn't need to.

Gibson,Franklyn (1900) - Cross,Ted (1991) [A36]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (11), 11.03.2018

1.c4 g6 2.g3 Bg7 3.Bg2 c5 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.d3 Nf6 6.e4 d6 7.Nge2 0-0 8.0-0 e5 9.h3 Nd4 10.f4 Ne8 1/2-1/2

And so that wrapped it up. I scored an undefeated eight points from ten and won first place for the second year in a row.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Old Fort Bay Invitational 2018 part 3

This next game made me nervous for the same reason as my third round game--having beaten top rivals I now had to face one of the lower-ranked opponents, and that always feels like a trap game (as the third round ended up being). I steeled myself to play as solidly as possible.

Cross,Ted (1991) - Whyms,Chappell (1616) [B48]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (6), 07.03.2018

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Qc7 5.Nc3 e6 6.Be3 a6 7.a3 Nf6 8.Be2 Nxd4 9.Bxd4 b5?! 
He chose a variation that I was unfamiliar with, so it's lucky for me that he erred first. [9...d6] 
Although my move isn't bad, per se, it allows black equality in a position where I could have taken a strong advantage. [>=10.e5 Nd5 11.Nxd5 exd5 12.Qd2 Bc5 13.0-0-0 Bb7 14.Rhe1+/-] 
10...Bd6 11.g3 Bb7 12.Bf3 
My move is fine. The computer's suggestion only leads to a slight advantage anyway. [12.Bxb5 Nxe4 13.Nxe4 Bxe4 14.Ba4 0-0 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.Qd4+ Be5 17.Qxe4 Bxb2 18.Rab1 Qe5 19.Qxe5+ Bxe5 20.Bxd7+/=] 
12...Be5 13.Bg2 Rc8 14.Rc1 0-0 15.f4 Bxd4+ 16.Qxd4 d5 17.e5 Nd7 18.Ne2 Qb6 19.Rfd1 Rc7 20.c3 Rfc8 21.Kf2 a5 22.Qxb6 Nxb6 23.Nd4 Ba6 24.Bf1 Nc4?! 
I missed the ideas behind b3. [25.b3! Nb6 (25...Nxa3 26.Ra1+-) 26.a4 Kf8 27.axb5 Bb7 28.Ra1 Rxc3 29.Rxa5+-] 
25...a4 26.Bxc4 
The computer doesn't like my move, but I think it underestimates how bad the black bishop becomes, trapped behind its wall of pawns.
Black definitely makes it worse with this move. [26...dxc4 27.Rcd2+/-; 26...bxc4 27.g4+/=] 
27.Ke3 Kf8 28.g4 Ke7 29.f5 Rb8? 
Now white is flat-out winning. [29...exf5 30.gxf5 Re8 31.Rf2 Bc8 32.Kd2+/-] 
30.Rf2 Rcc8 31.fxe6 fxe6 32.Rdf1 b4 33.Rf7+ Ke8 
It's lost either way. [33...Kd8 34.Nxe6+ Ke8 35.Nxg7+ Kd8 36.R1f6] 
34.Rf8+ 1-0

It was a relief to get by the 'trap game' intact! The next game was also a bit of a potential trap game, though against a stronger player. I had beaten him twice last year in this event, but I knew I would have to be accurate to do so again.

Joseph,Elton (1811) - Cross,Ted (1991) [A00]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (7), 10.03.2018

1.g3 g6 2.Bg2 Bg7 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.b3
Well, he sure chose an unusual opening variation against me!
4... d5 5.e3 c5 6.Bb2 0-0 7.Nge2 e5 8.0-0 Nc6 9.d4 
It feels like a reversed King's Indian, and I'm not a KID player at all.
9...cxd4 10.exd4 exd4 
I originally meant to play the correct move, e4, but then I thought I saw a tactic that wasn't quite there. [>=10...e4 11.Qd2 Re8 12.Rfe1 Bg4-/+]
11.Nxd4 Nxd4 12.Qxd4 Ne4 13.Qd3 Bf5 14.Na4 Nxf2? 
It could have turned out well for me had I seen this absurdly long computer line. [14...Bxb2 15.Nxb2 Qf6 16.Na4 Ng5 17.Qxd5 Rad8 18.Qc5 Nh3+ 19.Kh1 Rd2 20.Nc3 Rfd8 21.Rae1 Rxc2 22.Nd5 Rxc5 23.Nxf6+ Kg7 24.g4 Bd3 25.Ne4 Bxf1 26.Bxf1 Nxf2+ 27.Nxf2 Rc2-/+]
15.Qxd5 Nh3+ 16.Kh1 Qxd5 17.Bxd5 Bxb2 
[17...Rad8 18.Bxb7 Rd2 (18...Bxc2 19.Bg2 Ng5 20.Kg1=) 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.c4 Re8 21.Rae1 Rxe1 22.Rxe1 Rxa2~~]
18.Nxb2 Bxc2 19.Rac1 Bf5 20.Bxb7 Rae8 21.Bf3?! 
It would have been all equal if not for this error. [21.Rce1=]
21...Ng5 22.g4 Nxf3 
23.gxf5 Re2 
[23...Nxh2! 24.Rf4 Re2 25.Nd3 g5-/+]
24.Rxf3 Rxb2 25.fxg6 fxg6? 
I simply hallucinated here, totally missing that his other rook could hit me and win a pawn with check. [25...hxg6 26.a4 Rd8-/+]
26.Rxf8+ Kxf8 27.Rc8+ Kg7 28.Rc7+ Kh6 29.Rxa7 Kg5 30.h4+?? 
White makes a terrible mistake. [30.Rxh7 Rxa2 31.b4 Rb2 32.Rb7 Kf4 33.Kg1 g5 34.b5 Kf3 35.Rf7+ Ke4 36.Rb7 Kf3=]
But I was so demoralized over what I had done on move 25 that I spent exactly zero time on my response and immediately played Kg4. White offered a draw and I accepted without even asking him to show his move. [30...Kxh4 31.Kg1 (31.Rxh7+ Kg3-+) 31...h5-+]

So, my pattern in this event so far was to play well against my biggest rivals and then play fairly poorly against the tail enders. Well, I had one of my biggest rivals ahead in the next round, so it wouldn't be so bad if that pattern held up for now!

Kendrick had 'stolen' the national championship away from me last year, and he was the only player in the Bahamas with a plus score against me, so needless to say, I was nervous.

Cross,Ted (1991) - Knowles,Kendrick (1827) [B35]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (8), 10.03.2018

1.e4 g6 
He had played the Center Counter each time with black previously.
2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c5 4.Nf3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.f3 0-0 8.Bc4 Qa5 9.Qd2 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Qb4 
When he played this move, I thought I had messed up and was in trouble. It took me quite a long time to realize that I was fine.
11.Qd3 Qxb2?? 
Lucky for me he didn't see that the pawn was poisoned. [11...d5 12.Bxd5 Nxd5 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.exd5 Bf5 15.Qd2 Qxb2 16.Rb1 Qa3 17.g4 Bd7 18.Rxb7 Rac8 19.Qd4+ Kg8 20.Kd2 Rfd8~/=]
12.Nd5 Nxd5 13.Bxb2 Bxb2 14.Rb1 Nf4 15.Qd2 Be5 16.0-0 d6 17.g3 Nh5 18.f4 Bf6 19.f5 g5 20.a4 h6 21.a5 Ng7 22.Rb3 Ne8 23.Rfb1 Kg7 24.Bd5 Be5 25.Bxb7 Bxb7 26.Rxb7 Nf6 27.Qd3 Rac8 28.R1b3 a6 29.Rxe7 Rc5 30.Rbb7 Rxa5 31.Qb3 d5 32.Rxe5 1-0

It is rarely easy to beat Kendrick, so it was nice to have one turn my way quickly. And this victory put me in the driver's seat for winning the event with 6 points out of 7 games (there was a bye for each person in the event due to the number of players).

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Old Fort Bay Invitational 2018 part 2

So, having begun the event by beating two of my toughest opponents, I now got to play white against the lowest-rated player in the event. I typically have no trouble beating 1400-level players, so this was a sobering experience. I didn't take her lightly, since I was nervous about messing up, but the truth is that she chose a terrific line to play against me, since it isn't one I like or know well, and she also played very well.

Cross,Ted (1991) - Johnson,Daijah (1441) [B32]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (4), 04.03.2018

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4 a6 7.N5c3 Nf6 8.Bg5?! 
See, already I show that I don't know this position. My move takes it from a standard minimal white edge to a tiny black edge. [8.Be2] 
8...Be7 9.Na3?! 
And I follow up my last poor move by overlooking a tactical idea. Lucky for me she didn't see it either.
[9...Nxe4! 10.Bxe7 Nxc3 11.Bxd8 Nxd1 12.Rxd1 Kxd8 13.Rxd6+ Ke7 14.Rd2=/+] 
I spent a lot of this opening making substandard moves! Not a good plan against a lower-rated opponent that I really need to beat. [>=10.Bxf6 Bxf6=] 
Again the Ne4 tactic was available and again we both missed it. [10...Nxe4! 11.Bxe7 Nxc3 12.Bxd8 Nxd1 13.Bc7 Nxb2 14.Bxd6 Rd8 15.c5-/+] 
My fourth poor move in a row. [11.Bd3=] 
[11...Nxe4 12.Bxe7 Nxc3 13.Qxd6 Nxe7 14.Qxd8 Rfxd8 15.bxc3-/+] 
12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Ncd5 Bxd5 14.exd5?! 
Another bad move gives black a solid edge. [>=14.Nxd5 Qa5+ 15.Qd2=] 
14...Nd4 15.Nc2?? 
I was simply oblivious to the Qa5 tactics, though I saw them right as I took my hand off the knight, and I knew I was in trouble and would be lucky not to lose the game. [15.Bd3 Qa5+ 16.Qd2 Qxd2+ 17.Kxd2=/+] 
What  huge relief! I felt like I had a new lease on life. [15...Qa5+ 16.b4 Nxc2+ 17.Qxc2 Qxb4+ 18.Qd2 a5-+] 
16.Qxc2 Rc8 
This slight inaccuracy on her part drops her advantage from significant to a small one. [>=16...e4 17.Rb1 Rc8 18.Be2 Qa5+ 19.Qd2 Qxa2 20.0-0-/+] 
17...b5 18.0-0 g6?! 
[18...e4 19.Be2 Qa5-/+] 
19.Qe2 bxc4 20.Bxc4 a5 21.Rac1 Bg7 22.Bb5 Qb6 23.a4 Rc5 24.Bc6 e4 25.Qxe4 Qxb2 26.Rxc5 dxc5 27.d6 Qe5 28.d7 
I still had my chances to win this game, but it involved playing highly accurate move orders, which given how poorly I had been playing so far was not something very likely to happen. [>=28.Qxe5 Bxe5 29.d7 Rb8 30.Bb5 Bf6 31.Re1 Kg7 32.Re8 Rd8 33.Kf1 c4 34.Ke2 h5 35.f4 Kh6 36.g3 c3 37.Kd3 g5 38.Re4 gxf4 39.Rxf4 Kg7 40.Rf5 h4 41.g4 Rh8 42.h3 Kg6 43.Kc2 Kg7 44.g5 Bd8 45.Kxc3+-] 
28...Qxe4 29.Bxe4 Bf6 30.Bc6 c4 31.Rc1 
And once again another long computer line that supposedly wins for me. [31.Re1 c3 32.Bb5 Rd8 33.Kf1 h5 34.Re8+ Kg7 35.Ke2 Kh6 36.Kd3 Kg5 37.g3 h4 38.Re4 hxg3 39.fxg3 Kh6 40.Rc4 Kg7 41.h4 Kf8 42.Ke4 Ke7 43.Kd5 Kf8 44.Kd6 Be7+ 45.Kc7 Bf6 46.g4+-]
31...Rb8 32.Bb5 c3 33.Kf1 
And again. [33.Re1 Kg7 34.Re8 Rd8 35.Re4 Rb8 36.Rc4 Rd8 37.g3 g5 38.Kg2 Kg6 39.g4 h5 40.h3 hxg4 41.hxg4 Kg7 42.Kf3 Rh8 43.Ke2 Rd8 44.Rc8 Kf8 45.Kd3 Ke7 46.Ke4 Ke6 47.Rc6+ Ke7 48.Rc5 Ke6 49.Rc8 Ke7 50.Kf5+-] 
33...Kf8 34.Ke2 
And one final time before it turns into a dead draw. [34.Re1 Be7 35.Re2 g5 36.g4 Rd8 37.Ke1 Bf6 38.h3 Kg8 39.Re8+ Kg7 40.Ke2 h5 41.Kd3 Kg6 42.Kc2 Kh6 43.Re4 Kg6 44.Rc4 hxg4 45.hxg4 Kg7 46.Rc8 Rh8 47.Kb3 Rd8 48.f3 Kf8 49.Kc4 Ke7 50.Kd5 Bg7 51.Ke4 Bf6 52.Kf5 Bg7 53.Rc4 Bh8 54.Kxg5+-] 
34...Ke7 35.Kd3 Rb6 36.Re1+ Re6 37.Rxe6+ Kxe6 38.Bc4+ Ke7 39.d8Q+ Kxd8 40.Bxf7 g5 41.Bb3 Kc7 42.Kc4 Kc6 43.Bc2 Be5 44.Be4+ Kb6 45.h3 h5 46.g3 h4 47.gxh4 gxh4 48.Kd5 Bg7 49.f4 Kc7 50.Ke6 Kb6 51.f5 Kc5 52.f6 Bf8 53.Bc2 Kb4 54.Kd5 Ka3 55.Kc4 Kb2 56.Kd3 Bd6 57.Bd1 1/2-1/2

On the one hand, it was a relief to not lose this after playing so terribly, but it was also a big let down to draw against the lowest player in the field, and one so many rating points lower than me. I was  hoping to start regaining lost rating points, and this dealt a crushing blow to that hope.

After this stinging rebuke, my reward was to have black against the Bahamas' best player, FM Cecil 'Carver' Moncur. I had lost with black each time I had played him in the past, so I was feeling determined but not very confident.

Moncur,FM Cecil (1901) - Cross,Ted (1991) [A88]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (5), 04.03.2018

1.d4 f5 
I changed up the opening, having played a Queen's Gambit each of the first two times I had played black against Carver.
2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.b3 0-0 6.Bb2 d6 7.0-0 c6 8.c4 a5 9.Nc3 Qc7 10.Rc1 Na6 11.d5 e5 
Nothing wrong with my move. Nc5 is just another good alternative. [11...Nc5]
12.dxe6 Bxe6 13.Ng5 Bc8 14.e3 h6 15.Nf3 Nc5 16.Nh4 g5 17.Nf3 Nfe4 
While there may be nothing technically wrong with white's plan over the past few moves, I was happy that he allowed me to expand on the kingside. Yes, it could turn out badly for me as it weakens my king's position, yet this attack against the kingside often represents black's only real chance to play for a win in this opening, barring white allowing a tactic along the long bishop diagonal.
18.Qc2 Nxc3 19.Bxc3 Ne4 [19...Bxc3 20.Qxc3 Qg7 21.Qd2 Rf6 22.Nd4 f4 23.exf4 gxf4 24.Kh1 fxg3 25.fxg3 Bd7+/=] 20.Bxg7 Qxg7 
This next phase of the game revolves around black trying not to lose the weak d6 pawn while trying to find a way to play f4.
21.Rfd1 Bd7 22.Nd4 Rae8 23.Ne2 Rf6 24.Nc3 Nc5 25.Rd4?! 
White falters at last, and I'm proud that I realized it and played correctly. [25.a3+/=]

26.exf4 gxf4 27.Qd1 
White makes things worse by placing his queen on the back rank with his king. [>=27.Qd2 f3 28.Bf1 Qe7 (28...Qg5) 29.Rd1 Kg7 30.Qb2 (30.Rxd6? Qxd6 31.Qxd6 Rxd6 32.Rxd6 Re1 33.Rd1 Rxd1 34.Nxd1 Bf5 35.h4 Bc2 36.Nc3 Kf6=/+) 30...Bf5 31.a3 Qe5=
; 27.Rxf4? Rxf4 28.gxf4 Bh3 29.f3 Nd3!]
[27...fxg3 28.hxg3 Ref8 29.Rc2=]
But here is the move that lost the game for white. He was hoping to collect the pawn on f3, but his bishop simply had to come to f1 to stop the coming tactics. [28.Bf1 Qg5 29.h4 Qe5 30.Qd2=]
28...Rfe6 29.Ne4 Nxe4 30.Bxf3 Nxg3! 
My move is definitely the human move and is just fine. The computer tactics just make my mind whirl. [30...Ng5 31.Rd3 Qb2 32.Kf1 Rf6 33.g4 Bxg4-+]
31.Rg4 Re1+ 32.Kg2 Bxg4 33.Qxd6 Bxf3+ 34.Kxf3 Rf8+ 35.Kg2 0-1

This was the best feeling, finally getting a win with black against my main rival. I now sat in first place with three and a half from four, with just the one blip of a draw that I should never have given up. I finished the first weekend quite happy with my performance.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Old Fort Bay Invitational 2018 part 1

2017 saw the first edition of a new invitational chess tournament in The Bahamas. It was an honor to be invited, and an even nicer honor to win that inaugural event. They changed the name for the second edition this year, now calling it the Old Fort Bay Invitational, Old Fort Bay being the nice neighborhood community that is hosting the event. Last year the event was a double round-robin with the best six players in The Bahamas, and I won with seven wins and three losses. This year it was changed to a single round-robin with eleven players, so still ten rounds, but only facing each player once. It's nerve-wracking to try to repeat a victory, since it's never something that is going to be easy. Ironically, my first round opponent this year was my final round opponent last year.

Cross,Ted (1991) - Karelina,Polina (1809) [B07]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (1), 03.03.2018

1.e4 d6 
No surprise, she has played the Pirc with black each time I have played her.
2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 c6 4.f4
I changed my opening from my previous three games against her, having played f3 in those games and going for f4 this time.
4... Qa5 5.Bd3 e5 6.Nf3 exd4 7.Nxd4 g6 8.Be3 Bg7 9.h3 Nbd7 10.a3 Qc7 11.Qf3 Nc5 12.0-0-0 b5?? 
She overlooked a tactic that I'm very familiar with in similar Sicilian positions.
My move is fine, though apparent it's even stronger to play [13.Ndxb5 cxb5 14.Nxb5 Qa5 15.Bxc5 dxc5 16.e5+-]
She tried to decline the tactic, but she failed to notice that this move did nothing to prevent it. I was just as surprised as she was that I could go ahead and capture the second pawn.
I like my move better, but the computer prefers [14.e5 dxe5 15.fxe5 Nd5 16.Nxc6 Nxc3 17.bxc3+-]
14...Bxc6 15.Ndb5 Bxb5 16.Nxb5 Qc6 17.Nxd6+ Ke7 18.e5 
While the computer likes another line better, it isn't an easy for for a human to understand, while my line is simple. [18.Bxc5 Qxc5 19.Qb3 Rhf8 20.Qb7+ Ke6 21.f5+ Ke5 22.Rhf1+-]
18...Qxf3 19.exf6+ Bxf6 20.gxf3 Ne6 21.f5 Ng5 22.f4 Nf3 23.Bc5 Bg7 24.Rhf1 Nh4 25.Rfe1+ 1-0

Polina is a talented young player and never easy to play against, so it was a relief to get this early win to start off the event. The second round wasn't going to get any easier, though. I had to play against Valentine Cox, who took second place last year. To win against him is always a long grind, and I had to have the black pieces against him.

Cox,Valentine (1856) - Cross,Ted (1991) [B45]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (2), 03.03.2018

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6
I don't play the e6 Sicilian, but I was concerned about his preparation and decided to take the game into unprepared waters early.
 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Be3 a6 8.Nd4 Qc7 9.Nb3 b5 10.a3 Be7 11.Be2 0-0 12.0-0 Bb7 
I don't know this opening variation very well, so I was making it up as I went along and hoping that my opponent was in the same boat. [12...Ne5=/+] 
13.f4 Rfd8 14.Bf3 Bf8 15.Qd2 d5 16.Qf2? 
How lucky I was that he faltered first...and that I saw it! Because I nearly didn't see it. I kept looking at all the lines where his bishop comes to b6 and I thought I was in trouble. Then I finally noticed the tactics that made d4 work for me. [16.e5 d4 17.exf6 dxe3 18.Qxe3 gxf6=] 

16...d4! 17.Nxd4 Nxd4 18.Kh1 
And the move worked due to the skewer available against white's king and queen. [18.Bxd4 Rxd4 19.Qxd4 Bc5] 
18...Nxf3 19.gxf3 
[19.Bb6?! Qxf4 20.g3 Nxe4 21.gxf4 Nxf2+ 22.Rxf2 Rd7-+] 
19...Rd7 20.Rg1 Rc8 21.Qh4 Ne8 22.Rg3 Qd8 23.Qh5 Rxc3!? 
Okay, so there was no need to make it harder by giving back the exchange, but I was getting nervous and thought this would make my life easier. [23...g6-+] 
24.bxc3 Rd1+ 25.Rg1 Rxa1 26.Rxa1 g6?!
All right, I didn't see the line that the computer likes here, and frankly I'm not sure how many humans would have seen it all. [26...f5! 27.exf5 Nf6 28.Qh3 Qc7 29.Bd2 exf5 30.Qg3 Bxa3-+] 
27.Qg4 Bg7 28.Qg1 Bxc3 
All these f5 lines that the computer likes didn't appeal to me at the time, since they felt weakening. [>=28...f5 29.Bb6 Qc8 30.Rd1 fxe4-+] 
29.Rd1 Qa8?! 
The computer's preferred line here is, well, very computerish. [29...Qc7 30.Bb6 Qc6 31.Rd8 Bf6 32.Rb8 Be7-+] 
30.Rd3 Ba5 
And again the computer suggests a line that I can't imagine a human playing. [>=30...Bf6 31.Bb6 Qb8 32.Qe3 h6-+] 
The fact that the computer suggestions are all fairly incomprehensible to me shows just how hard this position was to judge by human players. [31.Qg5 Bc6 32.Qc5-/+] 
The computer just loves the f5 moves. [>=31...f5 32.Kg1 fxe4 33.Rd7 exf3 34.Re7 Nf6-+] 
32.f5? exf5 33.Rd6 Bxe4 34.Kg2 Ng4 35.Bg1 Bc6 
[>=35...Bc7 36.Rd2 Bb7-+] 
36.Kg3 Bc7 37.fxg4 Bh1 
I wish I had seen the Bd5 idea. It is so elegant. [37...Bd5!] 

38.Kh4 Bf3? 
My move isn't really that bad. It's just that the h6 move traps the white king nicely. [38...h6 39.Be3 Qg2 40.Rd2 g5+ 41.Bxg5 hxg5+ 42.Kxg5 Qe4-+] 
39.Qd4 Bxd6? 
Again, my move doesn't throw anything away, but there is a stronger move in [39...Qf8] 
40.Qxd6 Bxg4?! 
[41.Bd4 h6 42.Qf6 g5+ 43.Kg3 Qf3#] 
41...Qe8 42.Bf2 Be2?! 
[42...h6 43.Kg3 Qe2 44.Qd3 f4+ 45.Kg2 Qe6-+] 
43.Kg5 Qf8 44.Qf6 h6+ 45.Kh4 g5+ 46.Kh3 Bg4+ 
I overlooked the shorter forced mate, but my move was easily winning as well. [46...Bf1+ 47.Kg3 Qb8+ 48.Kf3 Qf4#] 
47.Kg2 Qa8+ 0-1

I was so happy. Having started the event against two of my strongest competitors, I went 2-0. Successfully putting such powerful opponents in the rearview mirror is a huge relief. Now I just had to keep up the pressure against the rest of the field.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Nassau Cup Invitational 2017 part 4

So after racing to a lead in the tournament after the first half, I began to falter and lost two in a row. I was still in first place, but I needed to turn things around quick. Now I was facing FM Carver Moncur, who had beaten me in round 4.
Critical match-up with trophy behind us

Cross,Ted (1995) - Moncur,FM Cecil (1876) [B23]
Nassau Cup Invitational 2017 Nassau (9), 12.03.2017

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 
Not sure why I chose the Sicilian Grand Prix attack, except that I'm sure I wanted to get out of any special preparation Carver had done.
3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bb5 Nd4 6.0-0 Nxb5 7.Nxb5 d5 8.exd5 a6 9.Nc3 Nf6 10.d4 Nxd5 11.dxc5 Nxc3 12.Qxd8+ Kxd8 13.bxc3 Bxc3 14.Rb1 Kc7 15.Rb3 Bg7 
There hasn't been much to say because this has all been theory, headed toward an interesting endgame that I had studied previously. The question was could I remember it all?
16.Bd2 Rb8? 
[16...Be6 17.Ba5+ Kc6 18.Rb6+ Kxc5 19.Nd2 Rhd8 (19...Rhc8? 20.Rd1 Bf5 21.c3 Bc2 22.Rc1 Bf5 23.h3 h5 24.c4+-) 20.Rd1 Rd4~~ 21.c4 Bxc4 22.Rxb7 Rc8 23.Rc1 Kc6 24.Rxe7 Bf8 25.Re3 Kb5 26.Nb3 Rd5=/+]
GM Renier Gonzalez was analyzing the game afterward and preferred [17.Rb6!?]
Me with GM Renier Gonzalez

17...Kc6 18.Rb6+ Kxc5 19.Rd1?? 
Here is where I mixed up my line. I knew about Nd2 but played too quickly, and the instant I played it I saw that Bg4 ruins it for me. I got truly lucky that my opponent had a moment of blindness next move. [19.Nd2 Bg4 20.Nb3+ Kd5 21.c4+ Ke4 22.Re1+ Kd3 23.Rxe7 Rhe8 24.Rxf7 Bc3 25.h3 Bf5 26.g4 Re1+ 27.Kf2 Re2+ 28.Kg3 Re3+ 29.Kh4 Be6 30.Nc5++-]
Wow, what a mistake to make just when could have grabbed the advantage. [19...Bg4 20.Rb3 b5-/+]
20.Bxc3 Kxb6 21.Bxh8 f6 22.Rd8 Kc7 23.Rg8 b5 24.Rg7 Kd6 25.Rxh7 Bf5 26.Nd4 Be4 27.Rh3 e5?? 
He overlooked the skewer of his king and rook. [27...Kd5 28.c3 b4 29.Ne2 Bf5 30.Rh7 a5 31.Kf2 Rc8 32.h3 bxc3 33.g4 Bd3 34.Nc1 Be4 35.Bg7 c2 36.g5 Ke6 37.gxf6 exf6 38.Rh8 Rc4 39.Rf8 Bf5 40.Ke3 Rc3+ 41.Kd2 Rxh3 42.Rxf6+ Ke7 43.Ra6 Rf3 44.Rxa5 Rxf4 45.Kc3 g5 46.Bh6 Rf3+ 47.Kb2 g4 48.Ne2+-]
28.Bxf6 exf4 29.Ra3 Rb6 30.Bg5 [30.Bd8] 30...Ke5 31.c3 Rd6 32.Ne2 Rd1+ 33.Kf2 f3 34.gxf3 Bb7 35.Rb3 Bd5 36.Ra3 Bb7 37.Be3 Rh1 38.Bf4+ Kf5 39.Ng3+ 1-0

It felt good not just to get back on track but to beat the toughest opponent. Now I just needed to finish off the tournament well. There was only one person who could catch me, if I lost.

Karelina,Polina (1681) - Cross,Ted (1995) [B25]
Nassau Cup Invitational 2017 Nassau (10), 12.03.2017

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.f4 e6 
The second Sicilian Grand Prix in a row! I knew Polina played it, so this is what I prepared for.
7.Nf3 Nge7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Be3 b6 10.Qd2 d5 
This was all preparation for me. Her next move was new, so I suddenly had to think.
11.Nd1 dxe4 
I have a tendency to simplify too often. [11...d4 12.Bf2 e5=/+]
12.dxe4 Qxd2 13.Bxd2 Bb7 
[13...Ba6 14.Re1 e5=]
14.e5 Rad8 15.a3?
You'll see over the next few moves that the same tactic was available over and over again, and both of us missed it each time. [15.Rf2=]
[15...Nxe5! 16.fxe5 Bxf3-+]
[16...Nxe5 17.Nxe5 Bxe5 18.fxe5 Bxg2 19.Rf2 Bc6-/+]
[17...Nxe5! 18.Nxe5 Bxe5 19.fxe5 Bxe4 20.Bxe4 Rxd2-/+]
18.Nxd4 Bxe4? 
[>=18...Rxd4 19.Nf6+ Bxf6 20.exf6 Rxd2 21.Bxb7 Nf5 22.Bxa6 Rxc2 23.Rf2 Rxf2 24.Kxf2 Nd6=/+]
Lucky for me that Polina didn't see how to keep me from winning the piece. [19.Bxe4 Rxd4 20.Bd3 Rd7+/=]
The computer likes Bg2 better, but I could see my line led to a fairly easy win. [19...Bxg2 20.Nxf8 Rxd2 21.Rad1 Rxd1 22.Rxd1 Bf3-+]
20.Bxe4 Rxd2 21.Bd3 b5 
[21...g5! 22.fxg5 Rxf1+ 23.Rxf1 Bxe5 24.Re1 Bd4+-+]
22.b3 Rc8 [22...g5] 23.a4 c4 24.bxc4 bxc4 25.Be4 Nd5 26.Rfd1 Rxd1+ 
27.Rxd1 Nc3 28.Re1 Nxe4 29.Rxe4 Bf8 30.Rd4? Bc5 0-1
It felt so good to win both games on the final day and take first place with 7/10.
With GM Gonzalez and the sponsor Mr. Lindroth

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Nassau Cup Invitational 2017 part 3

I finished the first half of the 2017 Nassau Cup Invitational with 4/5, but could I play well enough in the second half to win first place? Since it was a double round robin, I would be playing the same players over again but with colors reversed.

Joseph,Elton (1808) - Cross,Ted (1995) [D35]
Nassau Cup Invitational 2017 Nassau (6), 11.03.2017

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.Nxd5??
Lucky way to begin the second half of the event. My opponent falls for an ancient trap right in the opening. I dislike playing the Queen's Gambit as black, but I wasn't feeling confident about my Dutch at the time.
6...Nxd5 7.Bxd8 Bb4+ 8.Qd2 Bxd2+
Taking the bishop on d8 may be a touch better, but it's a winning position no matter what here.
9.Kxd2 Kxd8 10.e4 N5f6 11.e5 Nd5 12.Bc4 N7b6 13.Bb3 Be6 14.Ne2 Ke7 15.Rac1 c6 16.h3 Rhd8 17.f4 h5 18.Rhf1 g6 19.Ng3 Nc7 20.Bxe6 Nxe6 21.f5 Nxd4 22.Ke3 h4 23.fxg6 fxg6
My move is just fine, though the computer likes the following a shade more. [23...hxg3 24.Rxf7+ Ke6 25.Ke4 Nd7 26.Rcf1 c5-+]
24.Ne4 Nf5+ 25.Kf4 Rd4 26.Kf3 Rxe4 27.Kxe4 Ng3+ 28.Ke3 Nd5+ 29.Kd2 Nxf1+ 30.Rxf1 Rf8 31.Re1 Rf2+ 32.Kd3 Rxb2 33.Re4 Rxa2 34.Rxh4 Rxg2 35.Rh7+ Ke6 36.Rxb7 Kxe5 37.Rxa7 Rg3+ 38.Kd2 Rxh3 39.Ra6 Kd6 40.Ke2 Rh7 41.Ra8 Rg7 42.Kf3 g5 43.Rd8+ Kc7 44.Ra8 Kb7 45.Ra1 g4+ 46.Kg3 c5 47.Rc1 Kc6 48.Re1 c4 49.Rc1 Kc5 0-1

So that was a nice way to begin the second half.

Cross,Ted (1995) - Cox,Valentine (1846) [B96]
Nassau Cup Invitational 2017 Nassau (7), 11.03.2017

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7
I know the nuances of the standard Nbd7 far better, so this was a good choice to force me to have to think and try to be accurate.
8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0-0-0 Bd7 10.Bd3 Nc6 11.Nxc6 Bxc6 12.Rhe1 b5 13.Ne2?!
I wanted to reposition my knight to the better d4 square, but the computer prefers [13.Kb1 Bb7 14.a3+/=]
13...Rc8 14.Nd4 Bb7 15.Qe2?!
15...0-0 16.Kb1 d5? 17.Bxf6 dxe4 
[17...Bxf6 18.e5 Be7 19.Bxh7+ Kxh7 20.Qh5+ Kg8 21.Rd3 f6 22.Rg3+-]
18.Be5 exd3 19.Rxd3 Qa5?! 
[19...Qc5 20.Nb3 Qb6 21.f5 f6 22.Bd4 Qc6 23.Na5 Qxg2 24.Nxb7 Qxb7 25.fxe6 Rc7+/-]
Can't blame me for missing the tactical shot here. It isn't easy to see. [20.Bxg7!! Kxg7 21.Qe5+ f6 22.Qxe6 Kh8 (22...Rce8 23.Nf5+ Kh8 24.Nxe7 Bc8 25.Qe2+-) 23.Qxe7 Rf7 24.Qe3+-]
20...Qb6 21.Rg3? 
I was struggling to understand the position and find a good plan. [21.f5 f6 22.Bd4 Qc6 23.Na5 Qxg2 24.Nxb7 Qxb7 25.fxe6 Rc7 26.Qg4 g6 27.Rg1+/-]
21...g6= 22.Rd3? 
[22.Bd4 Qc7 23.f5 Bd5 24.Qd2 Rfd8 25.fxg6 fxg6 26.Qd3 Bf8 27.Be5 Qd7 28.Nd4=]
22...Bd5 23.Nd2?! Qc6 24.c3? 
[24.Rc3 Qb7 25.Ne4 f5 26.Rxc8 Rxc8 27.Nf6+ Bxf6 28.Bxf6 Be4 29.Rc1 b4 30.b3 a5 31.Bb2=]
24...b4! 25.Ka1?! 
[25.c4 Bxc4 26.Nxc4 Qxc4 27.b3 Qb5 28.Bb2-/+]
25...bxc3 26.Bxc3 Rfe8 27.Rg3?? 
Just horrible, missing an obvious skewer [27.g3 Qb5 28.Qe3-/+]
27...Bh4 28.Rh1? Qa4 29.b3 Bxb3 30.Nxb3 Bxg3 31.Qe5 Rxc3 32.Qxc3 Bxf4 33.Rf1 Bh6 34.Qf3 Bg7+ 35.Kb1 Qd7 36.Rd1 Qb5 37.Rf1 Qf5+ 38.Qxf5 gxf5 39.h3 Rd8 40.g4 fxg4 41.hxg4 Rd5 42.Rf4 a5 43.Ra4 Bc3 44.Kc2 Be1 45.a3 Kg7 46.Re4 Bh4 47.a4 Be7 48.Rc4 Bb4 49.Re4 h5 50.gxh5 Rxh5 51.Nd4 Rh2+ 52.Kb3 Rh3+ 53.Kc2 Ra3 54.Nxe6+ fxe6 55.Rxe6 Rxa4 
This is what I was playing on for, a chance to sacrifice the knight for enough material to give me a chance to do something, anything in the endgame to cheapo my way to a draw.
56.Rc6 Kf7 57.Ra6 Ra3 58.Kb2 Rh3 59.Rb6 Ke7 60.Ra6 Kd7 61.Rb6 Kc7 62.Ra6 Kb7 63.Rg6 Rc3 64.Rg5 Kb6 65.Rg6+ Kb5 66.Rg5+ Ka4 67.Rh5 Rg3 68.Rh2 Rb3+ 69.Ka2 Rd3 70.Kb1 Ba3 71.Ka2 Bb4 72.Kb1 Rd1+ 73.Kc2 Ra1 74.Kb2 Ra3 75.Rh4 Rc3 76.Rg4 Rc5 77.Rh4 Kb5 78.Rh3 a4 79.Rf3 Rd5 80.Rh3 Rd2+ 81.Kc1 a3? 
And this was the type of mistake I was after.
82.Rxa3 Kc4 
Unfortunately, even though I got my cheapo and reached a bishop and rook versus rook endgame, the particular positioning of the pieces here makes it fairly easy for my opponent to still win.
83.Rh3 Bc3 84.Rh7 Rf2 85.Rc7+ Kd3 86.Rd7+ Bd4 87.Kb1 Rb2+ 88.Kc1 Ra2 89.Rb7 Ra1+ 90.Rb1 Ra2 91.Rb7 
[91.Rb5] would have given me more of a chance to slip out of the noose my opponent played wrong.
91...Rf2 92.Rb3+ Bc3 93.Kb1 Rf1+ 0-1

Okay, so another loss. You always want to right the ship after such a loss and not start spiraling downward. Would I be able to do it?

Knowles,Kendrick (1891) - Cross,Ted (1995) [E61]
Nassau Cup Invitational 2017 Nassau (8), 11.03.2017

1.c4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.e3 Nf6 
I have never studied the English deeply enough to develop a standard set of lines to use. I pretty much make it up as I go along, which can get me into trouble, of course. [5...e6; 5...e5]
6.Nge2 0-0 7.d4 cxd4 8.exd4 d6 9.0-0 e6?! 
See, it's not so easy to find the best lines when you don't have them memorized. [9...Bf5 10.h3 h5 11.Be3 Qd7=]
10.b3 a6 11.Bb2 Qa5?! 12.d5 exd5 13.Nxd5 Nxd5 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.Bxd5 Qc7?! 
Here you can see that I'm in for a long, hard struggle to save the game. Material is even, but white is fully developed and has an obvious target on d6 to aim at. [>=15...Bh3 16.Re1 Rfe8 17.Qc1+/=]
16.Qd2 Be6 17.Rac1 Rad8 18.Rfe1 Rfe8 19.Nf4 Bc8 20.Qc3+ Kg8 21.Qf6 Ne5 22.Qg5?! 
A slight inaccuracy on white's part allows me to alleviate some of the pressure. [22.Bg2 Be6 23.h3+/-]
22...Qe7 23.Qxe7 Rxe7 24.Rcd1?! 
White made a small error on his move, but I failed to see how to take advantage of it. [>=24...Bg4 25.Ra1 Nf3+ 26.Bxf3 Rxe1+ 27.Rxe1 Bxf3 28.Re3 Bc6=]
25.Kg2 Kf8 26.Re3 Ng4 27.Rxe7 Kxe7 28.Re1+ Kf8 29.h3 Nf6 30.Bc6 Bd7 31.Bb7 a5 
[31...Rb8! 32.Bf3 g5 33.Nd5 Nxd5 34.Bxd5 b5 35.g4+/=]
32.Rd1 Be6?!
33.Bd5?! Bxd5+ 34.Nxd5 Nxd5 35.Rxd5 Ke7 36.Rb5 Rb8= 
Now the endgame is equal, however it is far easier for white to play. Black has to keep his rook active enough to hold the draw, as well as not make any more mistakes.
37.Kf3 Kd7 38.g4 h6 39.h4 Kc6 40.g5 hxg5 41.hxg5 Re8 42.a3 Re1 43.a4 Re6 44.Kg4 f5+? 45.gxf6 Rxf6 46.f4 Re6?! 
I miss several paths to the draw over the remaining moves. [46...Kc7 47.Kg5 Rf8 48.Rd5 Kd7 49.Rd4 Ke6 50.Kxg6 Rg8+ 51.Kh5 Rg3=]
47.Kg5 Kc7 48.Rd5 Kc6 49.Rd3 Kc5 50.Rh3 Kb4 51.Rh6 Kxb3 
[51...Re1 52.Rxg6 Kxb3 53.Rxd6 Kxc4=]
52.Rxg6 Rxg6+?? 
53.Kxg6 Kxa4 54.f5 Kb3 55.f6 a4 56.f7 a3 57.f8Q Kxc4 58.Qxd6 Kb3 59.Qxb6+ Kc2 60.Qc5+ Kb3 61.Qc1 Ka2 62.Kf5 1-0

Depressing to be in first place and then lose two games in a row. Other players were closing in on my first place standing, and if I couldn't find a way to stop the bleeding, the ending of the event would be a painful one for me.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Nassau Cup Invitational 2017 part 2

After starting day one 3-0, I hoped to continue my good fortune into day two, but it wan't to be. Playing FM Cecil 'Carver' Moncur with black is never fun. He had beaten me thus in the national championships a couple months earlier, so I knew going in it would be tough.I prepared hard and it seemed like it was working out for me at first.

Moncur,FM Cecil (1876) - Cross,Ted (1995) [D36]
Nassau Cup Invitational 2017 Nassau (4), 05.03.2017

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 Be7 6.Qc2 c6 7.Nc3 g6 8.e3 Bf5 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 Nbd7 11.Bh6 Ng4 12.Bg7 Rg8 13.Be5 Ngxe5 14.Nxe5 Nxe5 15.dxe5 Qc7
Believe it or not, I had had this position on my board during my preparation, but after Carver played his next move, I couldn't remember the line. I'm not a fan of the Queen's Gambit, but this line had felt like my best shot at trying to beat Carver, so I had worked hard at it in my prep.
16.f4 0-0-0
Castling isn't bad, but the better way to play it was [16...f6 17.e4 fxe5 18.exd5 0-0-0 19.0-0-0 exf4 20.Qc4 Bd6 21.dxc6 Qxc6 22.Qxc6+ bxc6-/+]
17.0-0-0 h6?
Here is where I went astray and lose my advantage. This pawn move haunts me the rest of the game. Better was still [17...f6-/+]
18.g3 Kb8 19.Kb1 f6 20.exf6 Bxf6 21.Rhe1?!
The computer doesn't like this move, preferring e4, leading to equality.
21... Qg7?!
Leads only to equality. Playing g5 leaves black with a slight edge.
22.Qc2 Rge8 
Again g5 was the better move. [>=22...g5 23.f5 Rge8 24.e4 Qe7 25.a4 a6=]
23.e4 Bxc3 24.Qxc3 Qxc3 25.bxc3 dxe4 26.Rxd8+ Rxd8 27.Rxe4 Rd7?
Reaching this endgame, I needed to assess it better. It is equal, but it's easier for white to play. I had a choice between active rook play or passive, and I chose the latter...wrongly. [27...Rd2 28.Re6 Rxh2 29.Rxg6 h5 30.f5 Kc7 31.Rg7+ Kb6 32.Rh7 Rg2 33.Rxh5 Rxg3 34.Kc2 a5=]
28.Kc2 Rg7?! 
Here is where I strayed down the path of passivity. Kc7 still offered equality. [>=28...Kc7]
29.Re8+ Kc7 30.Rh8 h5 31.Re8 Kd6 
My move isn't a mistake, per se, but there was an easier route to a draw. [>=31...g5=]
32.Re5 b6 
Again my move is okay but there was a simpler drawing route. [32...Re7 33.Rg5 (33.Rxe7?! Kxe7 34.h3 Ke6 35.g4 hxg4 36.hxg4 Kd5 37.Kd3 b5=) 33...Re2+ 34.Kb3 Rxh2 35.Rxg6+ Kc5 36.Rg5+ Kd6=]
33.Kd3 c5?? 
And then I blow it. It may be hard to see, but this was my last moment to activate my rook enough to be able to draw. [33...Rf7 34.Rg5 Rf6=]
34.Rg5 Ke6 35.f5+ Kf6 36.Rxg6+ Rxg6 37.fxg6 Kxg6 38.Kc4 Kg5 39.h3 a6 40.Kd5 Kf5 41.Kc6 Ke4 42.g4 hxg4 43.hxg4 Kd3 44.Kxb6 c4 45.g5 Kxc3 46.g6 Kb2 47.g7 c3 48.g8Q c2 49.Qb3+ 1-0

Well, that was a distressing way to start day two of the tournament, especially after my preparation had worked so well to earn me an edge with the black pieces. I could still finish the first half of the tournament with four out of five if I could win the second game of the day.

Cross,Ted (1995) - Karelina,Polina (1681) [B07]
Nassau Cup Invitational 2017 Nassau (5), 05.03.2017

1.e4 d6 
Paulina always plays the Pirc, so it's easy to look at these lines, but she always varies it a little, so it's hard to nail down any particular strategy.
2.d4 Nf6 3.f3 e5 4.d5 Be7 5.c4 a5 6.Nc3 Na6 7.Nge2 0-0 8.Be3 Nd7 9.Qd2 Ndc5 10.g4 c6 11.Ng3 cxd5 12.cxd5 Bd7 13.Bxa6?! 
I had a comfortable edge here, so this plan of trading the bishop and castling was just wrong. [13.Nf5+/=]
13...Nxa6 14.0-0?! 
[14.Nf5 b5 15.h4 b4 16.Nd1 Bxf5 17.gxf5 Rc8 (17...Bxh4+? 18.Kf1 g5 19.Bf2 Bxf2 20.Nxf2 Nc5 21.Ng4 f6 22.Kf2+/=) ]
15.Nf5 Bxf5?! 
I was happy to get the open g file. [15...b5 16.Kh1 Re8 17.Rac1+/=]
16.gxf5 Nc5 17.Kh1 Qd7 18.Rg1 
My move is fine and more human. The computer shows a tactic leading to a larger edge. [18.Bh6! f6 (18...gxh6 19.Qxh6 Kh8 20.Rg1 Rg8 21.f6 Nd3 22.Rg7+-) 19.Rg1 Rf7 20.Qe2 Na4 21.Nb5 Bd8 22.Be3 Bb6 23.Bxb6 Nxb6 24.a4+/-]
18...Kh8 19.Rg2!? 
The computer likes my move, but I think I prefer the rook to go to g3. [>=19.Rg3]
19...b5 20.Rag1 Rg8 21.Rg3 b4 
[21...g6 22.Nd1 a4 23.R3g2 Bf6 24.Bh6+/=]
22.Nd1 Bf6 23.Qg2 
[23.Nf2 Qe7 24.Ng4 Bh4 25.Rh3+-]
23...Nd3 24.Rh3 g6?? 
[24...Rgd8 25.Qg4 Qe8 26.Nf2 Nf4 27.Bxf4 exf4 28.e5 Bxe5 29.Ne4 Qg8 30.Ng5 Bf6 (30...h6?? 31.Rxh6+ gxh6 32.Qh5 Qf8 33.Nxf7+ Qxf7 34.Qxf7+-) 31.Nxh7 Qxh7 32.Rxh7+ Kxh7 33.Qh3+ Kg8 34.Qh6 Kf8 35.Qh8+ Ke7 36.Re1+ Kd7 37.Qh5 Rf8 38.Qg4 Rh8 39.Qg1 Rc5 40.Rc1 Rhc8 41.Rxc5 Rxc5 42.Qf2 Be5 43.Kg2 Ke7 44.Kh3 Rxd5 45.a4 bxa3 46.bxa3 Rc5 47.a4+/-]
25.Rxh7+ Kxh7 26.Qh3+ Kg7 27.Qh6# 1-0

So, while I wasn't happy dropping a game to Carver,  I had to be fairly happy going four out of five through the first half of the tournament. I was in first place and just hoped to continue playing well through the second weekend.