Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Reykjavik Open 2009 Rd. 9

I have played in many tournaments in my life, and 455 tournament games, yet this event has been the worst performance I have had. Given how the rest of the tournament went, this last round was fitting. I played a young boy with no official rating - though FIDE shows that he has just begun playing and so far has a 1670 rating - and he played like each of my previous opponents has - mistake free. I have had games in the past where the computer showed no real mistakes by my opponent, but this is the first time I have had an entire tourney with no such mistakes!

I noticed some interesting patterns between this year's tournament and last year's. Last year I never once had to play down against a player lower rated than myself, and I gained around 30 rating points. This year I had to play down five times, and I lost around 18 rating points. Last year I didn't lose a single game with white; this year I nearly lost every white and didn't lose any with black!

[Event "Reykjavik Open 2009"]
[Site "Reykjavik, Iceland"]
[Date "2009.04.01"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Cross, Ted"]
[Black "Karlsson, Mikael"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B40"]
[WhiteElo "2076"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Bd3 Qb6 6. Nb5?!
The proper move here is 6. Nb3, but I was feeling particularly aggresive and I didn't care if he took the pawn.
He would have been fine taking the pawn: 6...Nxe4 7. Bxe4 Qxb5 8. Nc3 Qb6 9. O-O d5 and black has a small edge.
7. Be3
The computer likes 7. N5c3 better.
7...Bc5 8. Bxc5 Qxc5 9. N5c3 Nc6 10. Nd2 b5 11. O-O Bb7 12. Kh1 O-O 13. f4 d6 14. a3 Rfd8 15. Nb3
Looking back on it, I don't like this move. The computer recommends it, yet in the game this knight was just out of play for a long while.
15...Qb6 16. Qe2 Qc7 17. Rad1
The computer also recommends this, but if I was really going to follow the plan that you see over the next few moves, then this is just a wasted tempo.
17...Rac8 18. Rf3
I told myself not to do this. I knew I wouldn't play like this against a higher rated opponent. Yet, I felt that lower rated players often panic when someone directly attacks their king, and I didn't quite like the idea of playing g4 and g5 instead, since my king is potentially exposed to the black bishop.
18...Ne7 19. Rh3?
I couldn't back down, even though I knew I should. Since I could see that his knight was swinging over to g6, this move doesn't do any good anymore. Perhaps it would have made better use of itself on g3. Best of all would have been to abandon that line of play and just play it back to f2 or f1.
19...Ng6 20. Rf1
You see how moving this rook to d1 was a waste of time?
An excellent move that highlights the drawbacks of my overly aggressive plan. I either have to allow the opening of the d file for black's rook or further weaken my kingside with g3. Neither is appealing. So, black gets a perfect outpost for his knights on f4.
21. fxe5 dxe5 22. Rg3 Nf4 23. Qf2
I really thought I had him here. So many 1600 level players would have gone right in for the knight trade on d3, but given the way this tournament has gone, I am not surprised he didn't go for it.
I had hoped for 23...Nxd3?? 24. Qxf6 and white wins.
24. Rf3 Nxd3 25. cxd3 Nf4 26. Nc1
Here I missed the chance for equality with 26. d4!
26...Rd7 27. g3
Better was 27. N3e2 f6 (27...Nxe2 28. Nxe2 Rcd8 29. b4 f6 30. Rc1 Qd6 31. Rc3 Rc7 32. Rxc7 Qxc7 33. h3 with a slight edge to black.) 28. Nxf4 Qxc1 (28...exf4 29. Ne2 g5 30. Nc3 =) 29. Nh5 Rf7 30. b4 Qc2 31. Qb6 Qc6 32. Qf2 Qe6 with a slight edge to black.
27...Ne6 28. Nd5 Bxd5
Black overlooked a much easier win here with 28...Rxd5! 29. exd5 Bxd5.
29. exd5 Nd4 30. Re3 Rxd5 31. Re4 Rc5 32. Ne2 Nxe2 33. Rxe2 Rd8 34. d4! exd4 35. Qxd4 Qc6+ 36. Qe4 g6?!
Black should have played 36...Qxe4+ 37. Rxe4 Rc2 38. Rfe1 g5 39. R4e2 Rdd2 40. Rxd2 Rxd2 41. b4 Rd3 42. Ra1 with a good advantage for black.
37. Qxc6 Rxc6 38. Re7 Rf8?!
Much better was 38...Rc2 39. Rexf7 Rdd2 40. Rf8+ Kg7 41. R1f7+ Kh6 42. Kg1 Rxh2 43. Rf2 Rhxf2 44. Rxf2 Rxf2 45. Kxf2 Kg5 and black should win.
39. Ra7 Kg7 40. Rf2 h5 41. h4 1/2-1/2
Though my move is the last one, it was actually he who offered the draw. He is too new to chess to know that he has to make his move first before offering a draw, I guess. I was lucky to escape alive. So, how come 1600 level players are all of a sudden playing like experts?