Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Reykjavik Open round 2

I have played Grandmasters in many formats, including a rated action chess game against GM Alexander Wojtkiewicz, but until this second round game I had never gotten to play a GM in classical chess. I spent quite a long time trying to do some preparation against him, and I found many games where he played the Alapin Sicilian as white, so I prepared mainly for that, though I also prepared for the Be2 variation of the Najdorf Sicilian since he seems to like that also. I was not thrilled to see him vary with 6. g3 and there are no instances of him playing this out of all his games in my database.

[Event "Reykjavik Open 2008"]
[Site "Reykjavik, Iceland"]
[Date "2008.03.04"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Malisauskas, GM Vidmantas"]
[Black "Cross, Ted"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B91"]
[WhiteElo "2489"]
[BlackElo "2079"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3
This made me nervous already, as I had not found any games where he played the Closed Sicilian, so I had not prepared for it.
2…d6 3. Nge2 Nf6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 a6
I breathed a quick sigh of relief that he transposed back into the Najdorf, so now I just prayed that he would continue as he usually does with 6. Be2.
6. g3
Well, it always seems to work this way for me; they play moves that are in none of their other games in the databases and blow away my preparation.
6…e5 7. Nf3 Be7 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O Be6
I suppose there must be something wrong with this idea, though it felt natural to me. I can’t find any GM games in the database with this position, though there are games from the move before my ninth. Fritz seems to feel the position is about equal. I was aware that he would probably chase my bishop with Ng5, but I figured that would be ok.
10. Ng5 Bg4
Frankly, I just don’t know this opening. I never play the Najdorf with black and I only did so because it allowed me to prepare something specific for this opponent. With this move I was hoping that by inducing him to play f3 it might weaken his kingside a bit.
11. f3 Bd7
As soon as I played this I felt uncomfortable about it and thought perhaps I should have played it back to c8.
12. f4
I knew it! He goes after me right away.
12…Nc6 13. f5 b5 14. g4
Not that it helps me any at my amateur level, but Fritz (admittedly an old version) doesn’t like this idea and suddenly rates black’s position as slightly better. I felt during the game that I was in trouble already. Fritz says black has a tiny edge. Go figure.
The computer likes 14... Rc8 15. a3 Qb6+ 16. Kh1 Qd4 with a slight edge for black. My move isn’t bad either, but I think it only ends up helping white’s attack against my king.
15. Nh3 g5?
It is difficult for me to understand why I did this obviously bad move. I felt desperate at the time, feeling that he had a big edge. This is apparently not true as Fritz still rates the position as equal. I thought I saw a defensive idea, but it was just an illusion brought about by the fact that I overlooked a couple of obvious moves on his part. (15...b4 16. Nd5 Nxd5 17. exd5 Qb6+ 18. Nf2 Na5 =)
16. fxg6 Bxg4 17. Qd2 b4?
My original intention was to take on g6, but my original defensive idea didn’t look like it would work; the move I chose instead is much worse. At least by taking on g6 there was the remote possibility he could go wrong, as the following demonstrates - 17...fxg6 18. Qxh6 Rf7 19. Nd5 (19. Qxg6+? Rg7 20. Qh6 b4 21. Nd5 Nxd5 22. exd5 Nd4 23. c3 bxc3 24. bxc3 Bf3 25. Rf2 Qa5 and black has the edge) 19...Bxh3 20. Bxh3 Rh7 21. Be6+ Kh8 22. Qd2 with a large edge for white)
18. Qxh6 Bxh3 19. Bxh3 b3 20. Rxf6 Qb6+ 21. Kh1 1-0

About what I expected from playing a GM. I just wish he had played his normal Be2 variation against the Najdorf so I could have seen how my preparation worked out.

Grandmaster from Lithuania Vidmantas Malisauskas

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