Saturday, March 15, 2008

Reykjavik Open round 9

This is what I had feared all tournament long, no longer playing against someone well above me in rating. I was quite unhappy that I ended up being given two blacks in a row, because I had clearly played much better with white, and I had lost all of my blacks. My opponent showed up more than half an hour late for the game, and then kept jumping up and running around to other places for some reason. This probably contributed both to my dropping a pawn early on and to him dropping a piece in return!

[Event "Reykjavik Open 2008"]
[Site "Reykjavik, Iceland"]
[Date "2008.03.11"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Ingvason, Johann"]
[Black "Cross, Ted"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B48"]
[WhiteElo "2105"]
[BlackElo "2079"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6
I have never played this before, but there wasn't much in the databases to help against this opponent in my normal Nc6 lines, plus I found that he pretty consistently played the same way with this e6 variation.
3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 Qc7 7. Qd2 Nf6 8. f3 Bb4
This was the line that I planned out in my preparation, because this guy liked to attack the black king with g4 and queenside castling, and I felt that getting him to play a3 would help my attack against his castled king.
9. a3 Be7 10. Be2 b5
I showed my hand too soon, I think. I should have held onto this move, hoping that he would castle queenside first. Now I think he got scared of castling queenside and chose to castle the other way instead.
11. O-O d6?!
(better is 11... O-O)
12.Nxc6 Qxc6 13. a4
With this move I felt I was in a bit of trouble, since my unfamiliarity with the typical tactics of this line meant that I didn't see the ideas that could have saved the pawn for me.
13...b4 14. Na2 Qxa4?
I played this because I couldn't see any way to save the pawn, but this is bad and gives white a strong advantage. 14...d5 contained enough tactical finesses to keep black in the game. (14...d5 15. Nxb4 Qd6 16. c3 dxe4 17. Qxd6 Bxd6 18. Rad1 Bxb4 19. cxb4 Nd5 20. Bc5 exf3)
15. Nxb4 Qd7 16.Nxa6 O-O 17. b4 Bb7 18. c4??
I think he felt he was just going to steamroll me now, plus his jumping out of his seat after each move may have contributed to his oversight. This was easily the biggest mistake any opponent made against me in this event.
18...Rxa6 19. Rab1 Rfa8
Now I just wanted to ensure I didn't embarrass myself by blowing this win. I wanted to find logical ways to reduce material on the board.
20. Rfd1 Ra2 21. Rb2 Rxb2 22.Qxb2 Qa4
With one rook removed, I now wanted to either force queens off the board or at least undermine his queenside pawns.
23. c5 dxc5 24. bxc5 Bc6 25.Kf2
I was hoping he wouldn't play this, since then Qa2 would have forced the queens off.
25...h6 26. Qb6 Nd7
I saw that I could get rid of that last annoying queenside pawn. I didn't quite realize how careful I needed to be with the two pieces that would be lined up on the 'c' file. (26... Nxe4+ 27. fxe4 Qxe4 28. g3 Ra2 29. Qb8+ Bf8)
27. Qc7 Bxc5 28. Bxc5 Nxc5 29. Rc1
Now I understood that I needed to be very careful here, as I could easily lose my extra piece.
I didn't look much at 30. Kg3 because my intuition told me I would have something I could do if he played that. I concentrated on him playing 30. Kf1 and I was pleased to see that I could play 30...Nd3! and win pretty easily.
30. Kg3
If 30. Kf1 Nd3! 31. Bxd3 Qxd3+ 32. Kf2 Qd2+ 33. Kg3 Qxc1
30... Nxe4+
I was glad that this tactic was available since I think he would have gained a piece back otherwise, though black was still better. He can't take the knight due to Qe3+.
31. Kh3
If 31. fxe4 Qe3+ 32. Bf3 Qxc1
31... Ng5+ 32. Kg3 Bd5 33. Rb1 Ra2
I thought about playing the rook to a4 to threaten mate on h4, but he could play h3. So, I played this so that if he defended with Re1 I could then play Ra4 and he could no longer play h3 to defend since he would drop the rook on e1 to Qh4+.
34. Rd1 Qe3
My main concern here was that he would play Bd3 to threaten checkmate, but I happily found that 35...Rg2+ would mate him first.
35. Rxd5
If 35. Bd3 Rxg2+ 36.Kh4 Nxf3+ 37. Kh3 Ne5+ 38. Kh4 Rxh2#
35... exd5 36. Qb8+ Kh7 37. Qb1+ Ne4+ 0-1
A great way to finish the tournament. By rating I should have scored only 2 or 2.5 points, but I scored 3.5 instead, and I gained around 30 rating points. Best of all, I did well enough that I only competed against players higher rated than me.

The day after the tournament finished there was a knockout blitz tournament to wrap things up. As I waited to find out my pairing, my son Alexei was fascinated by the blitz games being played by the two top Chinese GMs, Wang Yue and Wang Hao. He stood and watched game after game. Finally the pairings were announced and I had to face IM Jon Viktor Gunnarsson. I played well with white to reach an endgame with bishops of opposite colors, but my poor blitzing skills couldn't hold up. I lost with black pretty badly. All in all, it was a terrific, fun tournament and I learned an amazing amount. Getting to meet luminaries like Boris Spassky, Pal Benko, Vlastimil Hort, Lajos Portisch, and Fridrik Olafsson was great.

GM Lajos Portisch with former world champion GM Boris Spassky

GM Fridrik Olafsson and GM Pal Benko

My son watches GM Wang Yue and GM Wang Hao play blitz

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