Sunday, February 3, 2008

Hafnarfjordur Championship 2007

I originally posted this topic here. My second chess event in Iceland was the Hafnarfjordur Championship in December 2007. Hafnarfjordur is the small town outside of Reykjavik where I live and where our Haukar club is situated. The funny thing about this event is that it was played in Reykjavik rather than in Hafnarfjordur, and about half the players are not from Hafnarfjordur either! It was quite a strong event; the rating average was in the mid-2000s. There was one GM, Henrik Danielsen from Denmark. There were also two FMs and a couple of other masters.

The first two rounds were G/30, which I don't like at all as I am not good at speed chess, but at least they are not FIDE rated and can't hurt me. I played a strong master from Egypt and lost, and lucked into a draw from a bad position in the other action game. Luckily, I really didn't care about these two games as they aren't rated, and since I knew I would not be competing for a prize anyhow, given how many super strong players there were, I didn't much care about my score. The way I saw it, the tournament really began with the first FIDE rated game. At least I played one really solid game...

Benediktsson,T (1956) - Cross,T (2108) [B33]
Hafnarfjordur Championship Reykjavik, Iceland (3), 14.12.2007

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5
The Sveshnikov Sicilian has been one of my favorite openings for more than twenty years.
6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.c3 Bg7 12.Bd3 Be6 13.Qh5 0–0
Sorry, there hasn't been much to comment on because this is all standard theory; I have reached this position many times before.
Now this was the first time I have seen this move, but checking the databases it turns out to have been played quite a bit.
14...f4 15.Nf5 Qf6
I thought a bit about this move because this was the first position where I wasn't quite sure about the correct plan. I figured an advance in the center would open the long diagonal for my queen and bishop.
In almost all of the games that have reached this point white played 16.g4 and reached a complex middle-game. Castling here just seems to hand black a ready-made attack down the middle.
16...Bxf5 17.exf5 d5 18.f3 b4
Looking at this game with the computer later I was surprised that my moves through almost the whole game went right along with the evaluations. Playing the pawn to b4 is a typical idea in these positions to weaken the diagonal.
19.Nc2 bxc3 20.bxc3 Rfe8 21.Rfe1
According to my old Fritz 8 it is better to play 21.Rab1 with just a slight edge for black, though I believe black's edge must be bigger due to the pawns in the center. The next part of the attack seemed to play itself, at least until my mistake on move 26.
21...e4 22.fxe4 Qxc3 23.Rad1 Ne5 24.Qe2 Nxd3 25.Rxd3 Qc5+ 26.Kh1 Rxe4?
I thought this move looked obvious and winning, but it turns out to be a mistake as black has the tricky 27.Rxd5! Rxe2 28.Rxc5 Rd2=. So, instead I should have played 26...dxe4 27.Rb3 Qxf5 with a winning advantage.
27.Qd1? Qxc2 0–1

I felt this was about as well as I had played in a long while, and it gave me a boost in confidence. My next opponent made me nervous though. He plays at my club and always, always beats me at speed chess. Even when I get completely winning games he still manages to find some trick to beat me. He tends to mostly play a line of the Sicilian that I don't like, so I prepared for it, and naturally he didn't play it. He also slept in late accidentally and started with a time disadvantage, which may have contributed to what follows.

Cross,T (2108) - Gudmundsson,S (2110) [B06]
Hafnarfjordur Championship Reykjavik, Iceland (4), 15.12.2007

1.e4 g6
So, he surprises me already to blow away my preparation. I have never bothered to study the Modern or Pirc openings, so I pretty much make them up as I go along and end up with different lines each time I play them!
2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 Nc6 5.Be3 Nf6 6.Nc3 0–0
A good alternative here is 6...Nxe4 7.Bxf7+ (Fritz prefers Bd3 but I like this better) Kxf7 8.Nxe4 Rf8 9.d5 Ne5 10.Neg5+ Kg8 11.Nd4 c6 12.Nde6 Qa5+ 13.c3 ( 13.Bd2? Qxd5 14.Nxf8 Qxg2 15.Rf1 Bg4 16.f3 Rxf8 17.Rf2 Nxf3+ 18.Nxf3 Qh3 and black is winning) 13...Bxe6 14.Nxe6 Rf7 15.Nxg7 Kxg7 with a slight white edge.
7.Qd2 Ng4 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4 g5
The computer doesn't seem to mind this move, but I was happy to see it. I felt that it gave me good chances to burst open black's kingside later with a timely h4.
10.Bg3 e5?! 11.d5
With this move I felt in control of the game, since I saw good attacking chances against black's king while I felt pretty safe.
11...Na5 12.Bd3 f5 13.h3
The computer really likes 13.exf5! Nf6 ( 13...Bxf5 14.Bxf5 Rxf5 15.Ne4) 14.0–0–0 with a large advantage for white, but I thought I was winning a piece...
13...Nf6 14.b4!?
I played this move instantly, believing I was winning a piece. I have a bad habit of doing this. Better was 14.0–0–0, though I still retain some advantage even with my move.
14...fxe4 15.Nxe4 Nxe4 16.Bxe4 Nc4 17.Qd3 b5 18.Nd2 Nxd2 19.Kxd2 a6 20.f3
With this move I started my plan of attack. I wanted to immobilize the g5 pawn so that I could play h4 without black replying g4. Thus, I wanted to play f3, Bf2, g4, and then h4. Although this takes some time, I didn't see any great plan for black to stop me.
20...Bd7 21.Bf2 Qe8 22.g4 Rc8 23.h4! Bxg4 24.Rag1?!
I again played instantly, having looked at Bxg4 and believing that it only helped me in my attack. I only looked deeply enough that I thought he would have to retreat the bishop after my move. I saw Bxf3 but dismissed it. In a desperate situation, black looked deeper than me and saw a nice trick involving the loose bishop on f2. My original plan was not wrong, as white is truly better here if I just played 24.Raf1! Bd7 25.hxg5 with a large advantage.
24...Bxf3! 25.Bxf3 e4 26.Bxe4?
Even here I could have redeemed myself with correct play - 26.Qxe4! Qxe4 27.Bxe4 Rxf2+ 28.Ke3 Rf7 29.hxg5 hxg5 30.Rxg5 and white retains a slight edge.
26...Rxf2+ 27.Kd1 Qe5! 28.c3 Re8
It may have been better to play 28...Qxc3 29.hxg5 Qa1+ 30.Qb1 Qxb1+ 31.Bxb1 hxg5 32.Rxg5 with a slight edge for black.
29.Bh7+ Kh8?
A major mistake. Black wins with 29...Kf8 30.Rf1 Qe2+ 31.Qxe2 Rexe2 32.hxg5 hxg5 33.Rh2 Rxf1+ 34.Kxe2 Rc1
30.Re1 Re2
I don't suppose it matters since white still wins, but Fritz points out that slightly better is 30...Rh2! 31.Rhf1 Re2 32.Rxe2 Qxe2+ 33.Qxe2 Rxe2 34.Kxe2 Kxh7 35.hxg5 Bxc3 36.Rc1 Bxb4 37.Rxc7+ Kg6 38.gxh6 Kxh6 39.Rc6 a5 40.Rb6.
31.Rxe2 Qxe2+ 32.Qxe2 Rxe2 33.Kxe2 Kxh7 34.Kd3
I wanted to play it safe here, but an easier win is 34.hxg5! Bxc3 35.Rxh6+ Kg7 36.Ke3 Bxb4 37.Kf4.
34...g4 35.h5 Be5 36.c4 Kg7 37.cxb5 axb5 38.Rc1 Kf6 39.Rxc7 g3 40.Ke3 Kg5 41.Kf3 Kxh5 42.Rb7 Kg5 43.Rxb5 h5 44.Rb8 h4 45.Rg8+
More accurate is 45.b5! h3 46.b6 h2 ( 46...g2 47.Rg8+ Kf5 48.b7) 47.Kg2, but the plan I saw was forcing enough.
45...Kf5 46.Rg4 Bf6
I was expecting 46...h3 when I win with 47.Rxg3.
47.b5 Bd8 48.Rb4 Bb6 49.Rxh4 1–0

I felt a mix of emotions when this one ended, because my opponent was clearly very upset, and he is a nice guy. I know he blew his winning chances, but I also had a right to be a bit unhappy since I was the one who originally blew winning chances. I was lucky that he was short on time (though not that short) and probably didn't get to think long enough at certain critical junctures. Notice, though, that with my full compliment of time I still didn't bother to think enough at critical points either!

This game ended late but other games looked like they were going to go on for quite some time, so I went home without knowing who my next opponent would be. So, I had no preparation, which in FIDE tournaments is often a big help. It turns out it would have been very important for me, since my opponent is one I play regularly at the club. I would have known he was going to play the Alapin Sicilian against me and I could have prepared for it. As it was, once I saw the pairing the next morning I felt doomed. I know next to nothing about the Alapin, and in our blitz games he always wins. Before we even sat down to play I already felt lost, and it shows in the game. Oh, and by the way his rating is quite a bit higher than it shows here, as he has played quite a lot lately, and he is one of those young people who shoot up in rating very rapidly.

Thorgeirsson,S (2061) - Cross,T (2108) [B22]
Hafnarfjordur Championship Reykjavik, Iceland (5), 15.12.2007

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Bf5?!
I give this move a dubious mark even though in the databases there are strong masters who have played it. The reason is that no one has played the line my opponent chose, and as far as I can see through analysis with the computer, black never gets a decent game after his line. Normal is 4...Nf6 though since I don't know the Alapin I didn't know this until now. I may be wrong, but I think my opponent may have a bust for this line of the Alapin.
5.dxc5 Qxd1+
We had just played this exact line last week in blitz at the club and I had been unsure whether to take the pawn or trade queens. I didn't like the position after taking the pawn, but in the queen trade line I can't find a way to get my material back once he plays b4. Fritz likes the queen trade, too, and calls it equal but I disagree. If anyone can find a good line for black here I would really like to see it!
6.Kxd1 e6
Nothing really seems to work. Maybe if I had a better chess engine than Fritz 8? 6...Nc6 7.Bb5 e6 8.b4 Be7 9.Nf3 0–0–0+ 10.Ke2 Nxb4 11.cxb4 Bf6 12.Bg5 Bxa1 13.Bxd8 Kxd8 14.Rd1+ Kc8 15.Nbd2 Bc3 16.Nc4 Nf6 17.Nd6+ Kb8 18.a3 and white has a big edge, or 6...Nd7 7.b4 g6 8.Nf3 Bg7 9.Nd4 and again white is quite content.
7.b4 a5?!
The computer shows me 7...Nf6 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.Nf3 0–0–0+ 10.Ke2 Nd5 11.Bxc6 bxc6 12.Bd2 with just a slight edge for white, though I don't much like black's prospects.
8.a3 Nf6 9.Nf3 Bxb1?!
No, I wouldn't normally trade off this bishop for the knight, but I was feeling desperate and thought there might be a good tactic here for me. It didn't turn out too well, but I am not sure regular development would have helped either in the long run with those queenside pawns looming.
10.Rxb1 Ne4 11.Bb5+ Nc6 12.Kc2! axb4 13.cxb4 Nxf2 14.Rf1
Even better is 14.Re1. The rest isn't worth commenting on as it is just a matter of technique.
14...Ng4 15.h3 Nf6 16.Ne5 Rc8 17.Bf4 Be7 18.Nxc6 bxc6 19.Ba6 0–0 20.Bxc8 Rxc8 21.Kb3 Nd5 22.Bd2 Rb8 23.Kc4 Ra8 24.Ra1 Bf6 25.Ra2 Kf8 26.a4 Nc7 27.Kb3 Ke7 28.Bf4 Nd5 29.Bd6+ Ke8 30.Rf3 Be7 31.Bxe7 Kxe7 32.Kc4 Nc7 33.Rd3 e5 34.Rd6 Ra6 35.Rad2 Ne6 36.Kb3 Nd4+ 37.R6xd4 exd4 38.Rxd4 Ra7 39.b5 cxb5 40.axb5 f5 41.b6 Ra1 42.Rd2 Rc1 43.Rc2 Rb1+ 44.Rb2 Rc1 45.b7 1–0

After that demoralizing experience I tried to boost my confidence for the next round. At least this time I knew who I would play and what color I would have. I also knew he always seemed to play a particular line of the Center Counter defense. I spent the evening studying as hard as I could for this line, so naturally he did an end-around on me and played completely differently. Smart move.

I apologize in advance for all the long variations in this game. It is short and extremely tactical, so there isn't much I can do about it. I usually prefer to explain moves rather than give lines, but this type of game doesn't lend itself to that...

Cross,T (2108) - Fonseca,J (2057) [B01]
Hafnarfjordur Championship Reykjavik, Iceland (6), 16.12.2007

1.e4 Nc6
My darn, clever opponent knew I knew his favorite line (1.e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6), so he chooses something else to thwart my preparation.
2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nc3 Qh5
Agh! I have never seen this! It never ceases to amaze me how variable chess is. Only four moves into the game and he can play something I have never seen, and from the analysis of the databases it seems it is a perfectly viable idea.
Playing the knight to b5 looks really good, but isn't as good as it looks - 5.Nb5 Kd8 6.d4 Bg4 7.Bf4 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 Qxf3 9.gxf3 Nb4 10.Kd2 Nd5=. Still, I think this line suits my style more.
5...Bg4 6.d4?!
Odd that such a natural seeming move should be a mistake, which makes this an excellent line for black to play. Better would have been 6.0–0 0–0–0 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Bxf3 Qg6 9.d3 e5 10.Re1 in order for white to retain a slight edge.
6...0–0–0 7.Be3 e5 8.Ne4?
Yes, I knew this might be a mistake, but I couldn't see deeply enough to know for sure. I was not happy with the state of my position, so I thought active measures were called for. It was better, though, to play 8.d5 f5 9.Ng5 Bb4 10.Bxg4 fxg4 11.a3 Bxc3+ 12.bxc3 Nf6 13.c4 Rd7 14.Rb1 b6 15.Qd3 Re8 16.0–0 e4 17.Qb3 g3 18.hxg3 Ng4 19.Nh3 Na5 20.Qc3 Nxe3 21.fxe3 Qe2 22.Rb4 c5 23.Ra4 with an unclear position, and it is doubtful either of us would have found all of these moves.
8...f5! 9.Ng3 Qe8 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Bxe7 Qxe7 12.d5 Nf6
Also good is 12...Qb4+ 13.c3 Qxb2 14.0–0 Qxc3 15.Nd2 Rxd5 16.Bxg4 Rxd2 17.Bxf5+ Kb8 18.Qg4 with a large edge for black.
13.c4 f4!?
The computer prefers 13...Bxf3 14.Bxf3 e4 15.Be2 f4 16.Nf5 Qe5 17.Qb3 Qxf5 18.dxc6 Qa5+ 19.Kf1 bxc6, but only because f4 gives white a surprising resource.
Naturally I miss the surprising 14.Nd2! Bxe2 15.Nxe2 Nd4 16.0–0 which keeps white afloat.
14...e4 15.Nd4 Qb4+
From the safety of your computer it might seem simple to win for black, but the position is crazier than might first appear. Relatively best was 15...Ne5! 16.Bxg4+ Nfxg4 17.Qb3 Nd3+ 18.Ke2 Qf6 with a clear winning edge for black;
Also good enough though more complex is 15...f3 16.dxc6 bxc6 ( 16...fxe2 17.cxb7+ Kb8 ( 17...Kxb7?? 18.Qb3+ =) 18.Nc6+ Kxb7 19.Nxd8+ Kc8 20.Qa4 exf1Q+ 21.Kxf1 Rxd8 22.Qa6+ Kd7 23.h3 Bh5 24.Qxa7 with only a slight edge for black) 17.Ne3 fxe2 18.Qd2 Qc5 ( 18...c5?? 19.Nc6 and white should win) 19.Nb3 Rxd2 20.Nxc5 Rhd8 21.Nxg4 Nxg4 22.Nxe4 Rxb2 23.Nc3 Rc2 24.h3 Nf6 25.Nxe2 Re8 26.0–0 Rexe2 and black has a winning position.
16.Nd2 Nxd4 17.Bxg4+ Nxg4?!
This move seems obvious, but oddly enough it turns out to be a mistake. Winning is 17...Kb8! and white will be smothered by black's central pawns.
18.Qxg4+ Kb8 19.0–0–0 h5?!
Another mistake. Black would still retain a large edge after 19...Qa4! 20.Kb1 Qc2+ 21.Ka1 Qd3 22.a3.
I know, I know, anyone would see this is horrible. The sad thing is that the first option I looked at was the right one...20.Qxg7 Ne2+ 21.Kb1 e3 22.fxe3 fxe3 23.a3 Qa4 24.d6 cxd6 25.Ne4 Rhg8 26.Qh6 Rxg2 27.Qf6 Rgg8 a) 27...Qe8 28.Nxd6 Qg6+ 29.Qxg6 Rxg6 30.Nf5 Rxd1+ 31.Rxd1 Rg2 32.Rh1 Nf4 33.Nxe3 with a slight edge for white; b) 27...Qa5 28.Rd3 Rg6!? 29.Qe7 (b) 29.Qxg6!? Nf4 30.Qg3 Nxd3 31.Qxe3 Ne5=) 29...Qc7 30.Qxc7+ Kxc7 31.Rxe3 Rg2 32.Ng3 Nxg3 33.hxg3=; 28.Nxd6 Qb3 29.Ka1 Ka8 30.Rhe1=.
All I can say is that for some weird reason when I glanced at 20.a3 my brain decided that all black could do was either take my queen or play Nb3+. I examined both of those and was happy with them, so I went for it. I had plenty of time on my clock, so with a move that leaves my queen hanging I should have looked a little longer. It isn't hard to see the problem, after all.
20...Qa4 0–1

I was so down after this one that I withdrew from the tournament. I knew I was likely to lose the last round simply because of lack of confidence and energy.

No comments: