Saturday, September 19, 2009

2009 Toronto Labour Day Open Round 1 with annotations

First tournament in Toronto excluding the nationals, first game with this new time control, a first open tournament in Canada where I see more than 150 players. It was like my first tournament in the Philippines when I was still unrated. Anyway, that’s that for now for a bit of description of what I thought before the start of the tournament. Now, it’s time for the first round, against an 1800! My first impression because of his name and rating was that he must be a weakness meaning I can easily just crush him in about 20 moves but it actually took a lot longer and made my life harder. In the end, I would say that the game had an awesome end. Zugzwang I think is what is called. It means that Black’s pieces are stuck and can’t prevent the inevitable just like the Immortal Zugzwang Game, done by Aron Nimzowitsch, said to be like me by one of my friends, Hemant Persuad. There were lots of struggles for both sides but it seemed that White got the better of it. I will now show you all why with my notes.

2009 Toronto Labour Day Open
White: Jan Edmund D. Lazo (1994) Round 1 CFC rated
Black: Ben Olden-cooligan (1800) Board 29 2 hrs. /40 + 1 hr.
Opening: French Defense, Advance Variation, 3. Bd7 with Qb6

1. e4
I decided to not play the Bird attempting to turn it into a Nimzo/Dutch hybrid. I wanted to but said to myself I’m not ready for it. I wanted to win convincingly, not a grinded Karpov torture even though I usually do it myself.

1. ... e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5
I had played the 3. Nc3 where my opponent played the Classical Variation (3. ... Nf6). I got a winning attack by sacking my knight on e6 for two pawns and got a rook for in exchange of my other knight (so not like me to lose both knights but as usual, when I get the chance, I promote a knight!). I made a mistake by making what seemed to be a logical move and then lost the game by a simple bank rank mate. A usual ending to my so-called winning position. In fact, I played it well but knowing that I have excellent results with the French Advance, I decided to play it.

3. ... c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bd7 6. Be2 Nge7 7. Na3
The move said to gain an advantage. White plans on overprotecting d4 and support b4 for queenside action. 7. 0-0 is OKAY but if I want to play this system, I think I have to concede with Be3 which got annihilated in Kagramanov-Shirov game. If Black keeps holding back on taking on d4, then I might have to play Na3. So, I must as well play it.

7. ... cxd4 8. cxd4 Qb6
When I saw this move, I was happy. I know exactly how to handle Qb6. I’ve faced it many times and most of it I’ve won. I even play it myself when my opponent declines my 1. e4 d5!? (!) with 2. e5?! The plan I’ve had most problems with was with f6. The theory on f6 is new so I’ve had some pitfalls. One of them was my first game against Jose Luna, a junior expert and is one of the high rated juniors in Calgary. I will not spend time on analysis just yet because these are still book moves.

9. 0-0 Nf5 10. Nc2 Be7 11. g4!?
The opening book I saw in Fritz 11 is 11. Rb1 preparing b4 and only then g4. Ideas for Rb1 are protect the b pawn, allow the dark-squared to develop, push b4 and b5 driving the knight away from c6. Ideas for g4 are drive the knight away to the rim, taking away the f5 square at the same time for Black, move the f3 knight, push f4 and f5 crushing Black of space in the kingside. In other words, the main idea needed here is gain space and if ever, on both sides. I decided to just play g4 right away and make use of the tempo spent on Ra1-b1 for something else but it seemed to me in the game too committing. Ra1-b1 forces a concession with a5 trying to prevent b4 which discourages long side castling.

11. ... Nh4
If Black can play it, then Black should! 11. ... Nh6 makes the knight awkwardly placed and for the moment withholding Black’s kingside pawns. 11. ... Nh6?! 12. Ne1! (That’s why the bishop is on e2 instead of d3 besides the vulnerability from Nb4 and blocking the defense of the d4 pawn) White’s plan is simple and easy to understand: push that f pawn to f5! If White hasn’t castled, then Rg1 could have been played which would be fine for Black. Black can even castle kingside if that was the case. Unfortunately, it’s not. So, why bother putting it in an almost useless square? Just exchange it!

12. Nxh4 Bxh4 13. f4
Boldly pawn pushing saying that he will not take a draw for an answer. No other move makes sense with g4 right now.

13. ... f6?
I would have played the safer 13. ... Be7! , 14. ... 0-0, and only then f6 when exf6 is met with Rxf6. The dark-squared bishops are usually best placed in a3-f8 diagonal. This just allows a possibility of g5 when the bishop gets trapped for little or no compensation. Right now, it threatens fxe5 and Nxe5, winning a central pawn. If Black does exchange pawns on e5, then fxe5! is best as explained in the next few moves with some analysis. Back to the suggested move, after 13. ... Be7 14. Rb1 0-0 15. Be3 f6, Black has the easier game. Here, White finally is better if not slightly according to the chess engines.

14. Kg2
Playing safe just after pushing his pawns. Avoiding any tricks. 14. Be3? just gives the b pawn with little compensation after 14. ... Qxb2 15. Qd2 Qb6 16. Rab1 Qd8. I would say this is the most practical move to play avoiding Nxe5 tricks other than Kh1.

14. ... fxe5
Or else g5! comes strong. Why else would anyone play f6 and not exchange pawns on e5? So, Black takes it. Now, White has to make a decision. Is it dxe5 or fxe5?

15. fxe5
Of course even though it’s obvious. These are the pros and cons of 15. dxe5:

1.) The d4 outpost is open for the White knight.
2.) The pawn duo e5 and f4 and soon f5 can be used as wedge and can become
a passer.
3.) The g1-a7 diagonal is opened for the White bishop and queen.
4.) Black can castle kingside and exert pressure on the f4 pawn.
5.) The White king has a bit more shelter.
6.) If the d4 square is not occupied by a White piece, then Black can play d4 and possibly play Bc6 dominating the h1-a8 diagonal.

Seems to be more minuses than plusses to me. What about 15. fxe5?

1.) White has control of the f-file
2.) Black is prevented of short castling which is usually desired.
3.) The center advantage is kept (d4, e5 vs. d5, e6).
4.) The White king has less shelter and is more vulnerable to kingside
attacks if Black castles long.
5.) The center is kept closed for the French bishop.

In my opinion, the lesser of the two evils is the obvious 15. fxe5.

Besides, 15. dxe5 Be7! 16. Qd3 0-0 (0-0-0!? is much more interesting) 17. Be3 Qc7 should give Black at least equal chances.

Now, let’s see how Black reacts.

15. ... Qd8?
This is a clear error. Black tries to prevent g5 but it actually fails. Better is the simple 15. ... Be7 admitting that the dark-squared bishop was misplaced on h4. White still retains a small edge after 16. Bd3 Nb4 17. Nxb4 Qxb4 18. Rf4 or 16. Qd3 with ideas of Bd2, Ra1-b1/c1, and a latter b4. I would say that 16. Qd3 makes more sense following the rule of moving a piece once and with purpose during the opening. It allows Bc1-d2-e3 because of the tactical trick of Qxb2? Rfb1!, gives control of the b1-h7 diagonal meaning that it is watching the h7 pawn, and is adds another controller of the f1-a6 diagonal which prevents Bb5 for the moment. If 16. Qd3 Nb4 17. Nxb4 Qxb4 18. Bd2 Qb6, position is somewhat equal but slightly better for White for me because of rook coordination and king safety. Back to the game, the text move is a clear error because...

16. Qd3?!
NOOOO!!! This lets Black of the hook. It allows first of all 16. ... Be7! since 17. g5 Qb6 18. Bh5+ g6! 19. Bxg6+ hxg6 20. Qxg6+ Kd8 and Black escapes with Kc7 and Ra8-g8 to follow. What’s the move then? None other than 16. g5! The reason 16. Qd3 fails is because it gives black too much time to escape. An alternative to g5 is 16. Bd3. Both moves can transpose since 16. Be7?? 17. Qh5+ g6 18. Bxg6+ hxg6 19. Qxg6+! (a slower way of course to torture my opponent is 19. Qxh8+? (!) Ke7 20. Qxd8+) Ke7 20. Qf7# But, 16. g5 is much more direct. After 16. g5 g6 17. Bd3 Ne7 18. Qg4 Nf5
19. Bxf5 exf5 20. Qxh4, Whites wins a piece. So much for being called The Tactician among the Three Brothers in Calgary. My opponent could have, as Yuekai Wang said, died like a pig! Sigh... “So sad” – Krishneel Singh

16. ... Qe7?!
Now, Black escapes g5! However, Black’s queen is vulnerable in the a3-f8 diagonal so I think this is not best. As said, 16. ... Be7! is best securing the bishop. If 17. Bd2 Qc7 18. b4 Rc8, White has an edge but Black holds.

17. Bd2?!
Nope. This move preparing b4 is somewhat slow and may not do much to Black’s solid position. Better is 17. b3! exploiting Black’s misplaced queen. Whatever is next, it will soon be Ba3 or Bd2 if Ba3 can’t be played.

17. ... Bg5 18. b4
Squeezing Black of space.

18. ... Bxd2 19. Qxd2 a5?
This is a wrong time to fight back pawn move with pawn move such as this. Better is simply 19. ... Rc8 and if 20. b5, then 20 ... Nd8 with the idea of Nd8-f7-g5-e4. An alternative to Rc8 is 19. ... Qh4. Even with something like Rac1, White still retains an edge with b5, Nb4/e3, Rc7, etc. The reason why this is wrong is the text move which closed the position even further but with the c and f files open and the minor pieces severely cramped and stuck defending, Whites is just better if not clearly.

20. b5!
This is stronger now than before because of the fact it becomes closed so the a1 rook can move to the c file. Black’s lack of coordination of pieces along with less space gives him the disadvantage. Where will the knight go now?

20. ... Nb4??
Black hopes to exchange it but doesn’t realize that the knight is trapped. 20. ... Na7! is objectively better hoping to relocate it to b6. Another is Nd8 but this is a tempo down version with a5 pawn keeping the a8 rook out of play. In the end, with b6, the a8 rook goes to c8. This is the best of what one can do with less space. That’s partly the reason why I like playing the Advance. When White can push those pawns safety to the fifth rank with no counterplay for Black, it’s pretty much over and is just pure torture. Compared to a game I had in the nationals with the French Advance, Black still has some chances to live here and has some space to move.

21. Ne3?!
Stronger is Ne1! and now, Black has no counterplay and will lose the knight after a3! after Qh4 or Rc8. How I wish it was that simple but chaos again!

21. ... Qg5!
The main reason why Ne3 is inaccurate. Black now threatens Nc2 since Qxc2 Qxe3 gains nothing. Anything else is met with a3! White finds a distraction.

22. h4! Qh6 23. Rf3
I spent some time calculating on Rf3, Rac1, a3. I eventually concluded that 23. a3 fails to 23. ... Nc2! 24. g5 Nxe3+!, 23. Rac1 fails to Nxa2! (Qxa2 Qxe3), and Rf3 which allows Qxh4 and Qxg5 as shown in the game. After the game, I soon saw that I missed Rfc1 which could be better. I didn’t want to give up the f-file and so never thought about it. But, in fact, it does trap the knight. 23. Rfc1 0-0 24. a3 Qxh4 25. Bf1 Nc6 26. bxc6 Bxc6 27. Bd3 with some if not insufficient compensation. What I played gives me more initiative instead.

23. ... Rc8 24. g5 Qxh4 25. a3 Qxg5+ 26. Rg3 Qe7
I analysed a seemingly strong move, 26. ...Rc2? At first, after 27. Qxc2? Nxc2 28. Rxg5 Nxe3+ 29. Kg1 Nf5, Black holds the position is possibly better despite White being an exchange up because of Black’s kingside passers. But then, it fact, 26. ... Rc2? loses to 27. Qd1! when the knight, rook, and queen are all en prise.

27. axb4 axb4 28. Nc2?!
Rounding up the b4 pawn before it gets dangerous but 28. Ra7! is better first placing the c8 rook into passitivity before rounding it up. So, 28. Ra7 Rb8 29. Nc2 0-0 30. Nxb4 with about a +1.5 advantage for White.

28. ... 0-0
Finally, after 28 moves, Black finally castled short. It would have been much better to castle long before to exploit the early pushing of kingside pawns by White. I would say that this is an achievement already. I can’t imagine the regret my opponent felt ever since 13. ... f6 and 15. ... Qd8 were played.

29. Bd3?
It had to be first 29. Nxb4! to remove Black’s most potential hero in this position and thus removing any counterplay by Black. It’s also prevents Rc3 which disrupts most of White’s plans on the kingside. After 29. Nxb4, probably best is to battery on the f-file with 29. ... Rf7 and wait for White’s response whether he plays on the kingside with Rh1, Bd3, Qg5/h6 or the queenside with Ra7. A sample move order would be 29. Nxb4 Rf7 30. Ra7 b6 31. Rb7 and if 31. Qh4 Rxb6 32. Rcf8 Bf3, White wins. So, with 29. Bd3, White gives Black an entry point: c3

29. ... Rc3!
Taking advantage of the b4 pawn. Now, any Bxg6 would result in Rxg3+ or Rxh3 if the g3 rook goes to h3. White decides on continuing on his kingside attack. Another is 29. ... b3 but it does allow Ne3 with ideas of Ng4-f6/h6. Without the b4 pawn, these moves would have not been possible at all. White has nothing better than the text move.

30. Rh1
31. Qh6 fails to 31. ... Rxd3! 31. Bxh7+ Kxh7 32. Rh1 Kg8 Qh6 fails to Rxg3+! See the power of the c3 rook. It just stops my classic bishop sacrifice.

30. ... g6 31. Rgh3
White cowers away but for the right reason. If 31. Rxh7 Qxh7 32. Rxg6+ Qxg6! 33. Bxg6 Bxb5, White’s advantage doesn’t seem much with the rooks having the files and ranks and Black’s bishop being active.

31. ... Rfc8
Black suicides. Black doesn’t realize how important the queen really is. Let’s see first what the Black queen is doing:

1.) It defends the seventh rank.
2.) It controls the a3-f8 diagonal.
3.) It protects the light-squared bishop.
4.) It acts as the sole defender of the kingside by protecting f7, f8, f6,
g7, h7.
5.) It controls the h4-d8 diagonal.
6.) It protects the important b4 pawn.

As one can see, the Black queen is doing at lot of things and greatly influences the position. It could also mean that it is overloaded. If that’s the case, then it is much better to keep it and play 31. ... Rf7 instead. Now, White has nothing better than take the b pawn with Rb1, Nxb4. A possible line is 32. Rb1 Rc8 (anticipating Nxb4) 33. Nxb4 Rcf8 34. Rf1 Rxf1 Bxf1 and White should still have an edge. The text move allows Rxh7 and the forced sequence as shown in the game.

32. Rxh7! Qxh7 33. Rxh7 Kxh7 34. Nxb4
Now, let’s see the result of the exchanges. White has gained two pawns and the queen in exchange for his two rooks. Currently, White has a queen and a knight for two rooks and pawn but the weaknesses around Black’s camp make the Queen superior to the two rooks. Take note that the extra pawn is the g pawn which decreases the value of the extra pawn.

34. ... Rb3
A better move would have been the prophylactic 34. ... Be8 anticipating Qg5. 35. Qf4 Rb3 36. Qh4+ Kg8 37. Qe7 Bf7 38. Qxb7 Rf8 lets Black live longer.

35. Qg5
White tactically defends the knight and threatens mate.

35. ... Be8
Defending g6

36. Qe7+ Kh6 37. Qxe6 Ra8 38. Qe7 Rb2+?!
Black has no good moves. He can only wait with Rc8-a8-c8-a8 etc. but the text move again helps White start the king march. Yes, the king march. It’s similar to the Short-Timman where Black was placed in a zugzwang and White started marching his king to h6.

39. Kg3 Rb3?
Better is still to wait with Rc8 waiting for White to blunder with Kf4?? Rf2+!!

40. Qf8+!
Initiating the Zugzwang.

40. ... Kh7 41. e6 Rc8 42. Kf4!
Here comes the king marching its way to f6 for the g7 mate.

42. ... Ra8 43. Ke5 Rb2
Setting up one last trap hoping for Kf6?? Rf2+. Too bad it fails to the text move.

44. Nxd5! 1-0
Exclamation mark for making the right move and not being tempted to Kf6?? If White does want that, then 44. Nc2 prevents Rf2+! Anyway, it would have been a beautiful end but this ends beautifully too threatening 45. Nf6# Black can’t seem to bear it to see himself get mated in three as any other move allows 45. Nf6# Mate in three as shown: 44. ... Rf2 45. Nf6+ Rxf6+
46. Kxf6 Ra1 (or any other move) 47. Qg7#

Wow! Never expected a game like that with an 1800. I’ve taken a lot of risks but that’s just me. After that, I think I had it the game checked by Fritz 11 with the help of one of the Filipinos there. I just ate, drank, and analysed. One thing I’m still sure of in Toronto is the Transformer theme, “More than meets the eye”. Next game is today, tom, or on Monday. I’ll be back. I have to go eat my lunch.

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