Friday, March 27, 2009

Reykjavik Open 2009 Rd. 4

I was really stressed out before this round. After last night's debacle I really needed to get a positive score today, but this player uses opening lines that don't sit well at all with my style. Even worse, when I looked through his games, in the possible opening lines I might see, he plays so tough that I couldn't imagine actually winning this one. With how badly I figured I would do today, I have to be pretty happy that I got a draw. My opening preparation helped some. He varied pretty early into something I didn't know, but studying the opening all day helped me figure out some plans.

I chatted with American grandmaster Vinay Bhat before the round and took the photo above. That's GM Bhat on the left. He seemed like a really great guy, and I wish I knew him better.

[Event "Reykjavik Open 2009"]
[Site "Reykjavik, Iceland"]
[Date "2009.03.27"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Naslund, FM Mikael"]
[Black "Cross, Ted"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D23"]
[WhiteElo "2195"]
[BlackElo "2076"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qb3
It was a relief to see him actually play this, because it was the only line I studied all day.
4...dxc4 5. Qxc4 Bf5 6. g3 e6 7. Bg2 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Nc3 Nbd7 10. Re1
This was new for me. I didn't really know what to do now, so I stuck with the same basic plan tht I had from the original game I was following. I had expected him to play 10. Qb3 here.
Looks like this is a novelty, and not too horrible according to my computer.
11. e4 Bg6 12. Bf4 a5
I wanted the option to play the queen to a6. I wasn't yet sure exactly which rank I wanted to put each rook on, so I 'passed' with this move. The computer likes 12...Rfd8 here.
13. a3 Qa6 14. Qxa6 Rxa6 15. d5
Yeah, I knew this was coming. The question was just whether I would find enough counterplay to survive.
15...cxd5 16. exd5 Nc5 17. Ne5 Bd6
After the game my opponent said that this move really surprised him. We looked at some alternatives, and some looked okay, but I still think this works out best.
18. Nxg6 hxg6 19. Bxd6
The computer comes up with a very difficult to see line that seems to give white a big edge here. 19. Be3! exd5 20. Rad1 Re8 21. Nxd5 Nxd5 22. Rxd5 Bf8.
19...Rxd6 20. dxe6 Nxe6 21. Red1 Rfd8 22. Bxb7 Rb6!
This was my saving grace. The endgame is slightly better for white, but it should be manageable.
23. Rxd8+ Nxd8 24. Bf3 Rxb2 1/2-1/2
Since he was already getting low on time and I didn't see any winning chances for me, I offered a draw and was grateful that he accepted.

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