Archive for March, 2008

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The streak reaches three

March 21, 2008

My third win in a row (and all 3 games as white) came against a 10-year-old yesterday. Unusually for me, I tried to play my opponent more than I did the position and predictably, suffered in a slightly worse position for most of the game. My young opponent, though, made a couple of unfortunate mistakes in the endgame to lose the game.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.d4 Nf6 5.d5 a6 6.Ba4 b5 7.Bb3 Na5 8.Qd3 Nxb3 9.axb3 Be7 10.O-O O-O 11.b4?
I should probably just play 11.Nc3, rather than trying to clamp down on the a6 pawn, which was my attempt here.

11…Bb7 12.c4 c6 13.Nc3 cxd5 14.cxd5 Qd7 15.h3 Rfc8 16.Nd2 Nh5 17.Ne2 Bg5 18.Nb3 Nf4 19.Nxf4 Bxf4 20.Na5
20.Bxf4 exf4 21.Nd4 was also quite playable and would have given me a slight plus.

20…g5 21.Bd2 h5 22.Rfc1 Rxc1+ 23.Rxc1 Rc8 24.Rc3 Rxc3 25.Bxc3 [bxc3] Bc8 26.Qd1 g4 27.hxg4 hxg4 28.g3 Bg5 29.Bd2 Bxd2 30.Qxd2 f5?
30…f6 is needed, to stop the white queen from infiltrating the position.

31.Qg5+ Kf7 32.Qh5+ Kf8 33.Qh6+ Ke8 34.Nc6 Bb7??
The big blunder. Now, best-case scenario, the black queen is lost.

35.Qh8+ Kf7 36.Qh7+ Ke8 37.Qg8+ 1-0

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Back to an even score

March 15, 2008

Playing white on board 3, I recorded my second win on Thursday night. After starting out my British chess career with two straight losses, its good to win two straight now. Interestingly enough, my opponent played a not-so-common variation of the Sicilian which I used to play for a while as black in online chess. Atleast this made me familiar with black’s ideas in the opening and I didn’t have to figure them out over the board – a big plus as I had arrived 10 minutes late and was already behind on the clock.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Qb6
I used to play 4…Nf6 5.Nc3 Qb6.
White’s primary options here are Nb5 and Nb3. Nb3 is the more solid variation and leads to a slight plus for white. Nb5 is a bit more aggressive and is probably the more principled line.

5.Nb5 a6 6.Be3 Qa5+
The problem with facing a line you’ve played often is that while you are familiar with the move order you prefer, you never really bother to analyze alternate responses. Here, I always preferred playing my queen back to d8 – so I was in unfamiliar territory here – though having said that, it isn’t really hard finding moves here for white.

7.N5c3 Nf6 8.Bd3 d5 9.exd5
9.Nd2 might have been better, developing another piece. If 9…d4, then 10.Nb3 holds things together.

9…Nxd5 10.Bd2 Ndb4 11.Be4 Qe5 12.O-O
Here I had a long think about 12.a3, trapping the black knight. 12…Bf5 was not really a threat, as after 13.f3, I am just up a piece. But I was really worried about 12…f5, when after 13.axb4 fxe4, black’s position looks bad with doubled e-pawns, the lack of a f-pawn and being behind in development, but there seemed to be no clear way for me to take advantage of it.

12…Nd4 13.a3 Nbc6 14.Be3 Bf5 15.Bxf5 Nxf5 16.Bb6 e6 17.Re1 Qd6 18.Nd5! Rc8 19.Nbc3 Be7
Here again I had a long think, especially about 20.Qg4 but I couldn’t find a suitable continuation after 20…Ne5. But looking it up on the computer shows 21.Qa5+ Nd7 and I maintain my advantage. Sometimes, it really is hard to see lateral queen moves when trying to press the attack!

20.Nxe7 Ncxe7 21.Ba5 Nc6 22.Bb6 Ncd4 23.Bxd4 Qxd4 24.Qf3 =
After 24…O-O 25.Qxb7 Rb8 Qxa6 Rxb2, the game is petering out to a draw.

24…Qb6??
The game just became a winning position for white.

25.Qxf5 Qxb2 26.Rxe6+! fxe6 27.Qxe6+ Kf8 28.Qxc8+ Kf7 29.Qc7+ Kg6 30.Re1 Rf8 31.Qg3+ Kh6 32.h4 g6 33.Re7 Qc1+ 34.Kh2 Qd2 35.Ne4 Qc1 36.Ng5 Qb2 37.Rxh7#
1-0

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An early look-ahead to Anand-Kramnik

March 12, 2008

Vishy won his second consecutive Linares after coasting through the second half of the tournament with 6 straight draws to finish. Carlsen, who people are predicting to move up to 4/5 in the world in the latest rankings, finished half a point behind for his second straight second place in Linares. Combined with his win in Corus in January, his performances are certainly noteworthy and perhaps a bit scary to the rest of the field.

There’s a number of important classical tournaments coming up in the next few months – the newly formed Grand Prix, MTel, Dortmund etc. But I am already starting to look ahead to the clash of the titans in October. It is gearing up to be a classic (though I wish the match were doubled in length, to 24 games). While the general consensus is that Kramnik is the stronger match player after his win over Kasparov, I maintain its not as wide a gap as many would have you believe. Kramnik did lose a match to Shirov before his match with Kasparov, yet managed to be the guy to play him for the world title. His 2 title defence matches (has it been only 2 in 7 years?) were tight affairs with a draw with Leko and a tiebreak with Topalov (though to be fair, in that match, he forfeited one game because of Toiletgate). Anand hasn’t played any matches recently but bar his match with Kasparov, has an extremely good match record throughout his career. Even in that ill-fated match with Kasparov, he went blow-for-blow with him and even recorded the first win of the match in the 9th game before losing a flurry of games.

In his book on his best games, Anand says he learnt a lot in his preparation for that world championship match and that the experience would serve him well in any future matches for the world title. I am really curious as to his choice of seconds for the match. I guess Peter Heine Nielsen, his regular second, would be a part of the team. I wonder if he would get any of the Indian crop to help him out – I guess he would – a subset of Sasikiran Krishnan, Pentala Harikrishna and Surya Shekhar Ganguly would be my guess. I would really like him to include a Carlsen or Aronian as part of his team but I doubt it would happen. I’m not sure he would like to work with who he would see as his prime competition over the next few years to have an insight into his preparations.

The more I write about it, the more curious I get…