PLEASE NOTE: I have decided not to charge for the magazine from now on!
There is so much chess content on the web for free that I simply wasn’t attracting enough paying customers to make the work I put in financially viable.
So, rather than feeling bad that ‘no-one’ wants to pay for what I write and produce (and thereby giving up) I have decided to continue and ask readers that, if they enjoy the magazine and can afford to, they make a donation via the DONATE button (on the right or at the bottom of this issue).
Don’t feel pressured into doing this, but any and all donations are appreciated and will allow me to spend more time playing, writing about it (for you!) and perhaps even paying some of my hard-working contributors at some point!
It’s been a while since the last issue! Having taken over as editor of Chess Scotland magazine I’ve had to spend a fair bit of time getting to grips with the challenges of producing a real-life printed magazine, but now that things are back up-to-date with that I have more time available to concentrate on Street Fighting Chess. Apologies if you’ve had to get your chess fix from other sources in the meantime, but hopefully SFC online magazine will be a more regular feature from now on.
So, what’s been happening in the meantime? A lot! An awful lot in fact, and this issue will attempt to cover a busy summer of chess with the usual mix of reports, articles and games all aimed at helping you to improve your game (or at least helping you to enjoy your chess more!)
Let’s start with a fantastic summer event held in Glasgow: the Commonwealth and Scottish Championships. Three different reports from three different levels of player, so there will be something for everyone in this section
with Scottish Olympian Alice Lampard
Having spent a good four or five weeks preparing, I was keen to get off to a
good start. Round one I was drawn against Ayrshire Champion, Steven Brown. I
knew that this would be a tough game but I was determined to make the most of it.
I played a completely different opening to what I usually play, hoping
that he had spent a while preparing for nothing. He seemed to be unfamiliar
with my set up and I soon found myself in a strong position. However, unable
to formulate a plan, I decided to force a draw- just in time to catch the
start of the football!
White: Lampard, Alice (1561) Glasgow 2014
Black: Brown, Steven A (2069) ECO D97
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 O-O 7. e4 c6 8. Be2 So far my new opening has gone to plan. Na6 9. Qb3 Nc7 10. O-O b6 11. h3 I want to play h3 at some point in this opening but maybe I could have played Rd1 first- it is more active. Bb7 12. Be3 e6 13.Rac1 h6 14. Rfd1 I now have a very nice position.
14…Nd7 15. Bf4 Rc8 16. a4 I have all of my pieces developed and I have a space advantage as well as control of the centre, so I decided to try to weaken my opponents queen-side pawns. a6 17. Na2 My idea is to move my knight to b4. (17. Ne5 b5 18. Nc4 This is a better idea that I missed) 17… Qe7 18. Qe3 I decided to try and shift some of the attention to the king-side and to perhaps prepare b4. I would have been better just continuing with my plan and playing (18. Nb4 c5 19. Bxc7 Rxc7 (19… cxb4 Now maybe 20. Qe3) 20.Nxa6) 18… g5 19. Bh2 a5 20. Nc3 Rfe8
21. Bxc7 This is a positional mistake. My dark-squared bishop was probably my best piece and I swapped it for a knight that was doing nothing. However I had seen that I could force a draw and I was tempted. (21.Nd2 Improving my pieces and slowly building on my position would have been a better idea- I wasn’t patient enough. 21…f5 I think black’s best idea is to try and break down my centre. 22. exf5 exf5 23. Bxc7 Now this makes sense Rxc7 24. Nb5 Rcc8 25. Qxe7 Rxe7 26. Bc4+ Kf8 27. Nd6 and I’ve got a great position 21… Rxc7 22. Nb5 Rcc8 23. Na7 Rc7 24. Nb5 Rcc8 25. Na7 Rc7 I should have played on because I think that I still have the better position. However kick-off was in less than 5 minutes… 1/2-1/2
To play through all of Alice’s excellently annotated games just click on the drop-down menu above the board
My own tournament in Glasgow was a yo-yo affair, a real mix of interesting and creative ideas coupled with shoddy calculation and blind-spots! Travelling by public transport every day is not to be recommended for such an event, particularly if you’re trying to write a blog every night as well as attempting to prepare; by the end of the event I was truly exhausted – no excuses though, as the mistakes I was making were the same as I had been making all season!
It all started well enough for me; the first round saw me paired with one of the delightful ladies from South Africa (if anyone wants lessons in team spirit and enjoyment, these are the guys and girls to contact!)…
White: Solomons,Anzel (WIM1857) Commonwealth 2014
Black: Burnett,Andrew (2204) [A31]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nf3 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb3 5.Nb5 d5 6.cxd5 Bc5 is the main line. Black sacs the pawn for quick development. (6…Nxd5?? 7.Qxd5 Qxd5 8.Nc7+ is an age-old trick to beware of!)
5…d5 6.e3 Nc6 7.Nc3 When your opponent has declined to play the main line in a sharp opening (here the Vaganian Gambit introduced by 4…e5) it is often a good idea to strike early to upset their plans for keeping the position quiet. Black’s next move is premised on this.
7…d4!N RR 7…Be6 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Be2 Nxc3 10.Qxd8+ Rxd8 11.bxc3 f6 12.0–0 Kf7 13.f4 Bd6 14.fxe5 Nxe5 15.Nd4 Bc4 16.Bxc4+ Nxc4 17.Nf5 Bc5 18.Rb1 b6 19.Kh1 Rd3 20.Rb3 Re8 21.h3 g6 22.Nd4 Nawrocki,P-Sammalvuo,T (2370)/Osterskan 1994/TD/0–1
8.exd4 exd4 9.Nb5 Bb4+ speedy development is the key to playing such initiative-seeking ideas.
11.Be2 The tactical lines which follow show why white is already in a spot of bother, viz: 11.Bxb4? Re8+ 12.Be2 d3 or 11.N5xd4? Nxd4 12.Nxd4 Qxd4 13.Bxb4 Qxb2 (13…Re8+ is also winning 14.Be2 Qxb2 15.a3 Rxe2+ 16.Qxe2 Qxa1+) 14.Bxf8 Qc3+ 15.Ke2 Bg4+ 16.f3 Re8+ 17.Kf2 Qe3+ 18.Kg3 Ne4+ 19.Kxg4 Qg5+ 20.Kh3 Qh5# You don’t have to see all the way to the end of lines like this to know it’s good for black.
11…d3 12.Bf3 Re8+ 13.Kf1 Bxd2 14.Qxd2 Ne5 15.Qf4? White has been under so much pressure that she turns a very bad position into a quick loss.
16…Bg4! 16…d2 is perhaps even stronger, but developing pieces with gain of time is one of the most basic ideas when using the initiative.
17.Qf4 Re4 forcing the queen to a much inferior position before launching the final attack.
18.Qc1 Re2 Now all the black forces aim for the weakest spot in white’s position – the eternally vulnerable square when a king is uncastled – f2 (f7)
19.N5d4 Ne4 20.f3 Qh4
There followed 4 interesting wins against the ‘2000 crowd’ and 3 painful losses against ‘the big boys and girls’ plus a last round disaster against a young Indian girl.
To round off an enjoyable but frustrating event, WIM Tania Sachdev stood me up for an interview I had pestered her for!
To play through all of your editor’s games click on the drop-down menu above the board.
I normally take a long break from chess over the summer, and don’t start the new season until September. This year I was persuaded to try a 9 round open tournament in Split, Croatia, from August 16th to 23rd. Split is a popular resort on the Adriatic coast, and was where the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was born in Croatia, spent his retirement in the early 4th century AD. His palace is still there, and forms the main central area of Split, filled with bars, restaurants, shops, cathedrals, museums, and private apartments.
I was a bit rusty, not having played for a couple of months (best to get the excuses in early…).
Day 1, Saturday: I was up early to catch the train from Southampton to Heathrow, and then a flight to Vienna and onto Split. The first flight was delayed by over an hour, but luckily the onward flight to Split was also late. I got a taxi from the city centre to the hotel, and arrived about 20 minutes before the first round at 6pm. (On the way, the taxi driver told me about Croatia’s best chess player, GM Ivan Saric, who had recently beaten Magnus Carlsen in the Olympiad. How many British taxi drivers would know who our best players are?)
On arrival, I found that I was paired against a Bulgarian WGM. No problem – I won in about half an hour… You want to see the game? Oh, all right, all right – she was a no-show and lost by default. I’m sure I would have won anyway though…
Day 2, Sunday: Two games today, one at 9am and one at 6pm. In the morning, I lost a fairly interesting game against a young player in the Sicilian Chekover variation (a favourite line that I’ve had quite a reasonable success rate with in the past). We castled on opposite sides, but my attack was slower than his. Playing 14. f4 instead of 14. f3 would have helped, with the possibility of an interesting piece sacrifice.
White: Fowler,David (1876) – Split Open 2014
Black: Markoja,Sebastijan (2144) [B53]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Bg5 e6 9.0–0–0 Be7 10.Rhe1 0–0 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.Qd2 Rfd8 13.Nd4 Rab8
14.f3 14.f4 is David’s suggested improvement but I think Black is fine in this position in any event. He doesn’t have to prepare …b5 (with …a6) and so saves a tempo, while white still has to begin his attack. I have a book on the Sicilian by Ftacnik here, and, although it’s in Czech and I can’t understand all of his analysis, he agrees that 14. f4 isn’t a real improvement either. With the rook on e1 it does seem more sensible to play f4 rather than f3, but the central thrust e5 is double-edged; white’s queen is on the d-file and giving away the d5 square could have negative consequences also.
14…b5 15.g4 b4 16.Nce2 a5 17.Ng3 Ba8 18.Nh5!? If you have ChessBase or a similar database, it’s a good idea to see what strong players have played in the past. One click and we can see that this position isn’t exactly new and has in fact been played by some seriously good players! Relevant: 18.h4 a4 19.Rg1 Rdc8 20.Rg2 Ne8 21.Bxe7 Qxe7 22.g5 g6 23.h5 e5 24.Ndf5 Qc7 25.hxg6 fxg6 26.Nh6+ Kh8 27.Rh2 b3 28.cxb3 axb3 29.Rdh1 d5 30.Ng4 Qc2+ 31.Qxc2 bxc2+ 32.Kc1 h5 33.Nxh5 gxh5 34.Rxh5+ Kg7 35.Nxe5 Nd6 36.Rh7+ Kf8 ½–½ (36) Zhigalko,S (2656)-Kulaots,K (2582) Jurmala 2013
18…Ne8 19.h4 a4
20.Bxe7 20.Nf4!? might have given Black more cause for concern in a practical sense but it’s hard to believe white will get enough after …e5 20…Bxg5 21.hxg5 e5 (21…b3!? is also an interesting move.) 22.Nfe6 fxe6 23.Nxe6 Qc4 24.Nxd8 Rxd8 and although the position is messy, I think Black ought to be a bit better here once he has sorted out his minor pieces.
20…Qxe7 21.g5 g6 22.Ng3 e5 23.Nde2 Nc7N Black has been playing extremely accurately here (according to Houdini 4) but this move is actually the first independent move from theory! A previous game had continued Predecessor (3): 23…d5 24.exd5 Bxd5 25.Qe3 Be6 26.Nc1 Rbc8 ½–½ (26) Peptan,C (2460)-Berndt,S (2360) Berlin 1997
24.f4 24.c4 is given as best by the engine, but who would play such a move?
24…d5 25.Qe3 25.f5!? was probably the last chance, but White is in real trouble anyway – the black attack will come swiftly now.
25…d4 26.Qf3 Nb5 27.Nc1 Nc3+! and the best white can do is ignore the knight thereby losing the exchange, and still facing a horrible attack.
The second game was a very painful loss – a careless decision about which way to recapture a piece meant that I opened an invasion route for his knight. Today was definitely not a good start to the tournament…
After two losses, I needed some retail therapy, and I picked up a copy of Walter Browne’s “The Stress of Chess” from the bookstall. Some great games in there, and some interesting stories and inspiring quotes: “I firmly believe that by competing, you are a winner, no matter the result”. There was also an interesting discussion about whether it’s better to have a win and a loss, or two draws. Walter reckons that you learn more from a win and a loss, so that’s better. I agree.
Day 3, Monday: Time to rack up my first win over the board! I tried a rare (and probably dubious) line on the White side of the Four Knights, but my over-hasty junior opponent didn’t react well, and lost in 22 moves. Nigel lost his game in a long ending, and was berating himself later for not having played the drawing g7-g5 at the crucial moment. I tried cheering him up over pizzas and beer with some Walter Browne quotes – but I don’t think it worked.
Day 4, Tuesday: This time, my opponent tried the Four Knights against me – but instead of 3. … Nf6, I played a dubious gambit which he declined. Instead, he dropped a pawn and got a terrible position. However I then blew all of my advantage with one move. We carried on for a while, until he suddenly left a rook en prise – all donations are gratefully received! According to Nigel, he was still chuntering on about it the following day. On to 3 out of 5 (or 2 out of 4, if you don’t count the first round default).
Day 5, Wednesday: A second Black in a row in round 6, and a serious game against a WIM, Kristina Saric (the wife of GM Ante Saric, who was also playing the event – I’m not sure if he’s related to Ivan Saric, the vanquisher of Magnus Carlsen, though). No dodgy gambits from me this time – a slow and steady …Nd7 Caro-Kann. I eventually equalised the position, but then let things drift, until I blundered badly at the end, only for my opponent to blunder straight back, leaving a draw. The toughest game so far. She’d been having a bad run up till then, on 2.5 out of 5, but ended the tournament on 6/9, winning the best female prize. By my reckoning, that means she won her last 3 games.
Day 6, Thursday: Another outing for the Four Knights 4. a3 variation, but no success this time. My junior opponent left his king in the centre, but I couldn’t open the position to get to it. The king was well placed for the ending, where it proceeded to clear up my pawns. I think that may be the end for that particular opening for me – 3 games: one win, one draw (in a local Portsmouth league match about a year ago), and a loss. The weather in Split turned thundery today – we got back from the city centre just as a huge thunderstorm was developing. I pulled up a chair on my hotel room’s balcony, poured a shot (or three) of the local slivovitz, and enjoyed the show.
Day 7, Friday: My Romanian opponent had only a few games that I could find on the web, and they dated from over 15 years ago. What’s more, he seems to have played 1. e4, 1. d4 and 1. f4 – so I gave myself a break from opening preparation. In the end, the opening was a Colle, and it was all over when I lost a piece to a two move combination. As soon as I took my hand off my bishop I saw what was coming – I really have to train myself to spend some extra time to spot these things before I move.
Day 8, Saturday: The final day of this nonsense, another morning round, and time for Operation Try Not To Mess Up! (It’s really called something slightly different, but I’d best not say what it is). The idea was to force myself to pause between deciding on a move and actually making it, to see the resulting position in my mind’s eye, and ask if my opponent has any nasty tricks. I’m not sure if it had much effect – I forgot to do it several times, and it needs a lot more practice.
My opponent didn’t have a FIDE grade, but his national grade was 2015, so no slouch. He played the Modern – I got what I thought was an OK position (my computer disagrees) – and he missed a clear two-move win: 25. … Rxd3! (so much for me being extra careful over my moves). Then we ended up in a complicated knight versus bishop ending – I missed a win (52. Nh5!), before he lost on time. (This seemed quite baffling to him – I had to get an arbiter over to explain to him what had happened… How can you get a 2015 grade without knowing about how chess clocks work?)
To replay all of David’s games from Split (with light notes by the editor-me!) click on the drop-down menu above the board.
In conclusion, it was a typical up and down tournament for me – lots of blunders, and only one or two good moves. Also, a draw against a WIM, and even with only 3.5 points out of 8 games played (and just 2.5/7 against FIDE rated opponents), I added 5 points to my FIDE grade (woohoo!). I can definitely see areas for improvement, but whether I ever get round to acting on them is another matter…
If you’re thinking of playing the event in future, I would say the positive features were: Split is a very beautiful and relaxed Mediterranean city (especially the old parts in the centre), the weather is hot, the food and drink are cheap, and the hotel venue is just a few minutes walk from the sea. Most rooms will have a balcony with a good view of the Adriatic (unless you’re unlucky, and get a north-facing room). The locals are friendly, and the organiser is very helpful.
On the downside, the hotel is some distance from the city centre (about 25 minutes by bus), and the hotel bar closed at 9.30pm (this may be more of an important factor for some than others…). Most rounds started at 6pm to let the locals play, but this didn’t leave much time for socialising after the games. The city centre is well worth visiting in the evening, but the last bus back to the hotel was around 10.30pm, so you either have to get a taxi, or walk back along the coast road (which takes at least 45 minutes).
The food in the hotel was a bit basic (I only tried the breakfast, but I heard similar stories about lunch and dinner). Finally, make sure you check the availability of flights, and book early – I had to stay an extra night, as there were no flights from Split that I could find on Saturday afternoon. Nigel fared worse, having to get an overnight bus to Pula to catch a flight from there.
On my arrival at Heathrow, I was stopped by a security guard for a spot-check. He asked where I had travelled from, how long I’d been there, and what I’d been doing. “Playing in a chess tournament”, I told him.
“Did you win?”.
“Well, I was eighty-somethingth out of about a hundred and eighty odd …”.
“That doesn’t sound very good…” he said.
I think he was joking, and I explained that it was OK for me, and that I wasn’t a grandmaster, or anywhere near. Of course – I should have used some of Walter Browne’s words: “By competing, I was a winner, no matter the result…”
Dealing with very popular openings without employing main-line theory is one of my favourite areas of chess study. Much as I enjoy following the latest trends and games away from the board, I have always found it more interesting and more practical to seek new or relatively unexplored paths in the opening.
Previous ‘Re-inventing’ articles have focussed on quite strange ideas, well off the beaten path. This issue we are going to investigate a more mainstream idea in a new setting! Here are the 2 early-opening positions we will be facing…
White: Burnett,Andrew (2249) Edinburgh 2013
Black: Bird,Andrew (2184) [D15]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 This opening, the Slav Defence, is a very common choice at many levels of chess. Black now has a choice of moves and we will focus on…
4…a6 and 4…dxc4
4…e6 is another popular choice, but this move leads to very complex positions, often of a highly tactical nature – if you want a sharp fight against 4…e6 you don’t have to look very far! In a later article I’ll show you some ideas I use in this line to befuddle and bemuse opponents, but the first 2 moves are used more often by solid, positionally-minded players – and these are the people we need to find ways to pick a fight against!
5.g3! White has many ways to develop against this ‘Chebanenko’ system in the Slav (often known as the Chameleon variation) but the other moves here do not offer the c4–pawn as a gambit. 5.g3, though not a completely new idea, immediately asks black an awkward question: do you want to grab the pawn and hold onto it? Or do you have something else in mind?
5…Bf5 5…b5!? generally Black’s intention here if white does nothing to prevent it, but I’ve only faced it once. However, I can tell it’s clearly running through my opponents’ minds every time I reach this position! No-one has replied in under 5 minutes yet to 5.g3; Black has choices here and must seriously consider what kind of game he wants.
6.Bg2 dxc4 has transposed to the game Burnett-Constantinou also played at the recent Tatry Open in Slovakia.
a) 6…bxc4 is a move I’m really looking forward to facing at some point
b) 6…Bf5 was another move which was tried against me recently and after 7.0–0 e6 I played the insipid 8.c5 which led to a fairly uneventful draw in Burnett-Marczuk, Tatry Open 2014 (8.Bg5! will be my choice next time round as Black has some serious problems to face when e4 comes.) 7.Ne5 Bb7 8.a4 e6 9.Bg5 h6!? I gained a nice initiative by playing 10.axb5! axb5 (10…hxg5? 11.bxc6) 11.Rxa8 Bxa8 12.Qa1! Bb7 13.Qa7 although Peter typically fought back and made my life difficult. A draw was eventually agreed, although I was probably still clearly better at that point. This little manouevre is worth knowing however, and I had seen it in the notes to a Korchnoi game many years ago and it stuck with me.
6.Bg2 e6 7.0–0 Nbd7 8.Nh4 Bg4 9.h3 Bh5 Black has resolutely refused to grab the pawn and is hoping for a quiet life, which we can’t allow him to have, so…
10.g4!? Ne4 10…Bg6 11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.g5 looks very committal, but with the black king still a couple of moves away from safety white should play energetically and open the centre. 12…Nh5 13.cxd5 cxd5 14.e4! dxe4 and now 15.Qg4, 15.Re1 and 15.d5 all give white a strong initiative)
11.Nxe4 dxe4 12.gxh5 Qxh4 13.d5! again white should act before Black has time to sort himself out.
13…Bc5 14.b4! Ba7 14…Be7 might be a safer alternative
15.dxc6 bxc6 16.c5 Rd8 17.Qd6 Nb8 18.Qg3 Qxg3 19.fxg3 f5 20.Bf4 0–0 although black has done well to keep white’s initiative to a minimum, the position is still very dangerous for him.
21.Rfd1 Rd5 21…Rxd1+ 22.Rxd1 a5 23.a3?! (23.bxa5! the pawns might look horrible, but that’s 2 passed a-pawns white has!) 23…Na6
22.Bd6?! this move looks very natural, but white really needs to get his light-squared bishop into the affray, so 22.e3 intending Bf1 was called for.
22…Rd8 23.e3?! both of us had seen Black’s possible reply here, but we also both under-estimated how good it was.
23…Nd7 23…R8xd6! 24.cxd6 Bxe3+ 25.Kf1 Bd4 the move we’d over-looked. If white can get a pair of rooks off he would be better, but this can’t be forced. 26.Rab1 Rxd6 27.a4 Nd7 28.b5 axb5 29.axb5 cxb5 30.Rxb5
24.Bf1 Rxd1 25.Rxd1 Nxc5 26.Bxc5 Rxd1 27.Bxa7 Ra1 28.Bd4 Rxa2? a time-trouble blunder. White had good winning chances anyway, but this hastens black’s demise.
29.Bc4 Ra4 30.Bxe6+ Kf8 31.Bxf5 Kf7 31…Rxb4 32.Bc5+ is the problem
32.Bxe4 Rxb4 33.Bxc6 Ke6 34.Bxg7 a5 35.e4 a4 36.Bd5+ Ke7 37.Bc3 The bishop pair is just too strong in such positions, defending and attacking simultaneously.
37…Rb1+ 38.Kf2 Kd7 39.Ke3 a3 40.e5 Rg1 41.Bb4 Rxg3+ 42.Kd4 Rxh3 43.e6+ Kc7 44.e7 a2 45.Bxa2 Kd7 46.Be6+ This was my first outing with the g3 idea against the Slav and I was now hooked on the opening! Knowing there were several players I could expect to meet on the Scottish circuit alone, I decided this would be my main weapon and there was no real need to learn the 80 years of theory and practice which accompanies the other replies from white!
White: Burnett,Andrew (2248) Richardson 2014
Black: Shaw,John K (GM) (2403) [D15]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 Instead of the …a6 chameleon lines of the previous games. The positions can transpose, but this move-order also has independent significance.
5.g3!? It may be that 5.g3 only has practical value in this move-order rather than theoretical weight, as the black response
5.Ne5!? This may be a better way of initiating the g3 plan against the 4…dxc4 Czech variation as it is known. 5…b5 (5…Nbd7 6.Nxc4 e6 7.g3) 6.g3;
5.a4 This is the main-line theoretical starting point of the entire variation, aimed at preventing …b5. We, of course, are actively trying to encourage it in our variation! 5…Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.0–0 0–0 9.Qe2 Bg6 10.e4 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Nxe4 12.Ne5;
5.e4?! The Geller Gambit is an extremely sharp move, but one which seems to have fallen prey to the engine-influenced assessments of modern theory. Nevertheless, a close study of this line could well reap rewards if Black doesn’t react extremely accurately.]
5…b5 is quite likely to transpose back into the Burnet-Constantinou game seen in the motes to the previous game, as Black is unlikely to be able to do without …a6 shoring up his queen-side.
5…g6! is a very good counter. We see my opponent play this idea in the game but it is more flexible to play it now.;
5…Bf5 Played against me in this summer’s Scottish and Commonwealth Championships in Glasgow. It’s a perfectly sensible move, but doesn’t really challenge white’s approach. 6.Bg2 e6 7.0–0 Nbd7 8.Nh4 Bg6 9.Nxg6 hxg6 10.e4 e5 11.Be3 exd4 12.Bxd4 Nc5 13.e5! set the board alight. After 13…Ne6 14.exf6 Qxd4 15.Qa4 Qc5 16.Ne4 Qb4 17.fxg7! Nxg7 (17…Bxg7?? 18.Qxb4) 18.Nf6+ Kd8 19.Rfd1+ Kc8 20.Bxc6! Qxa4 21.Bxa4 a6 22.Nd5 Bc5 23.b4! the position of the black king gave white a large advantage in Burnett-Venkata.]
6.Bg2 g6 7.0–0 Bg7 8.e4 Nb6
9.a4!?N Apparently a novelty, but it’s a decent one as it looks to soften up the knight’s protection on b6
[RR 9.Qe2 Bg4 10.Be3 0–0 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Bxf3 e6 13.a4 a5 14.Rfd1 Nfd7 15.d5 cxd5 16.exd5 e5 17.d6 Rb8 18.Nd5 Nxd5 19.Bxd5 Nb6 20.Bxc4 Nxc4 21.Qxc4 Qd7 22.Kh2 b5 23.Qc7 Qd8 Shipman,W (2345) -Gentilleau,J/USA 1990/EXT 1997/1–0]
9…a5 10.Ne5 Nfd7 11.Nxd7 Bxd7 12.Be3 0–0 13.Qe2 Qc7 14.Rab1
14…Rad8?! A logical enough response, but perhaps a little prophylactic was called for…
14…Qd6!? 15.Rfd1 Qb4 is a good manouevre suggested by the engines. The pressure on c3 and a4 restricts white’s b3 break, without which he may struggle to justify the pawn sacrifice.
14…e5 is less clear, and white ought to have a good share of the chances after 15.dxe5 Bxe5 16.f4 Bg7 (16…Bxc3!? 17.bxc3 Nxa4 18.Qxc4 b5 19.Rxb5 Be6 20.Rd5 Rfc8 21.Qxa4 cxd5 22.exd5) 17.f5!? (17.Qf2!)
15.Rfc1 15.f4?! would be positionally undesirable after the reply 15…f5! fighting for the white squares
15…e5 16.dxe5 Bxe5 17.f4 Bg7 18.Qf2 c5 Now the game has reached its first critical point – if the tactics work in white’s favour then black will have no compensation for his weakened and targetted queen-side. Matters are far from clear though.
19.e5! 19.Bxc5!? Nxa4 20.Bxf8 Bxf8 21.Nd5 and the engine assessment is a tiny advantage to white. The human assessment is I no longer have a dark-squared bishop and am unlikely to survive having played f4!
19…Rc8 20.b3 The remarkable 20.b4!? is also playable here. After 20…axb4 21.a5 Na4 22.Nxa4 Bxa4 23.Rxc4 Qxa5 24.Bxc5 The position is a mess though probably better for white owing to the g7–bishop being locked up for the foreseeable future.
20…Bc6 21.Bxc5 Bxg2 22.Bxb6 Qc6 23.Nb5 23.bxc4! escaped my attention completely as I was focussed on calculating the game continuation (which is also quite good).
23…Be4 24.Na7?! Not the most accurate. However the mainline, which I actually saw, looked as though there might be a huge hole in it! 24.Rxc4 Bxb1 25.Rxc6 Rxc6 26.Bxa5 Rc1+ 27.Kg2 Rc2 28.Bd2! Rd8 29.Nd6 Bf8 30.Qd4 and white has managed to prevent the black forces from co-ordinating properly and should therefore stand clearly better.
24…Qe6 25.Nxc8 Rxc8 26.Rb2
26…c3?! This looks completely natural but it’s not the best move: 26…cxb3! would have held the balance. 27.Rxc8+ Qxc8 28.Rxb3 Qc1+ 29.Qf1 Qc2 and black’s activity ties white down too much to hope to win this.
27.Re2 Bf5 28.Bxa5 This is the problem with the …c3 push, the advanced pawn cannot be held
28…Qxb3 29.Qe3 Qxa4 30.Bxc3 Bf8 31.Be1 Rxc1 32.Qxc1 Be4?! John was in very serious time-trouble now with barely seconds on the clock to reach move 40.
33.Qe3 Bd5 34.f5?! 34.Bf2! would have been a safer move. 34…Qc4 35.Rd2
34…Qc4 35.Bf2 b6?? a blunder, but a logical one! However, had black ignored the obvious …Bc5 idea and instead played 35…Bh6! white would have had to seek the refuge of a draw with 36.Qd4 Qxe2 37.Qxd5=
36.e6! and black no longer has time for 36…Bc5 because of 37.e7
36…gxf5 37.e7 and John’s flag fell in this completely lost position.
Play through these games with the online viewer
A group of us flew from Edinburgh direct to Prague with Jet2.com, return flights cost around £150. Jump on the Airport Express (AE) bus just outside the Prague terminal and this takes roughly half an hour to transfer to the main train station which is the final stop. Pay the driver on boarding, it costs about £2 each way. When you arrive at the main train station, the modern ticket issuing area is a couple of levels down. Trains to Pardubice cost about £3.50 and the journey takes roughly an hour, with trains departing every fifteen minutes.
Upon arrival in Pardubice, turn right outside the station. The Czech arena venue is roughly fifteen minutes walk away, close to the town centre, sitting next to the river.
The organisers are very efficient, registering and paying either by cash or card takes only a few minutes.
There are a multitude of accommodation choices which can either be booked through the organiser (and paid along with your entry fee) or you may wish to book independently. The last time I played at this event I shared a room with some friends at the university hostel, about ten minutes walk from the venue. Basically, it consisted of twin bunk beds, a large table and chairs, a kitchen with fridge, microwave etc plus a wc/ shower room. The best bit though was a great balcony where you could sit outside with a nice cold beer. It was fine and cost about £10 pppn.
This year I stayed at the lovely pension hotel Senk on a bed and breakfast basis. Single occupancy in a nice twin room cost about £25 per night. The excellent tram service stopped right outside and cost about 50p to travel ten minutes to the tournament venue.
The Czech Arena venue is a bit special. It is a massive ice hockey stadium with enough room in the main area for roughly 1500 folks to be seated to play. Outside there is a marquee which covers roughly twenty of the games online with live commentary mostly by Czech IM Petr Pisk but with guest commentators joining in as their games were completed. It’s a nice blend of quality coverage but with the option to contribute from interested spectators. The marquee also serves snack foods and drinks with plenty of seating both outside and in.
There are no communication issues whatsoever and all announcements before each round are made in at least three languages including English.
The event itself is split into four main sections…..
Section A- Mainly made up of GMs, IMs and FM norm seekers.
Section B- Another strong section of 2100+ players. If you are targetting a CM/ FM title, this could be the event for you if you are trying to build your grade.
Section C- (under 2100) The biggest section numbers wise. All types of player are in this section including useful European club/tourney players plus many rapidly impoving strong Central/ Eastern European juniors. This is the section all of our group played in.
Section D- I strongly advise anyone thinking of playing here for the first time not to enter this section. It is mostly made up of ungraded players and Eastern European juniors.
Games! No report would be complete without some examples of our heroes play. First up David Congalton, who enjoyed the event so much he is already planning his return in 2015!
White: Congalton,David (1429) Czech Open
Black: Kasal,Jaroslav (1615) [E04]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 c6 5.Nf3 dxc4 6.0–0 Be7 When I returned to playing a few years ago I struggled with the openings, playing one thing one week and another the next week. Around the time I decided to avoid the Sicilian as much as I could, I also received a good piece of advice at Cathcart Chess Club from Alistair Maxwell who told me to find an opening I felt comfortable with and stick with it.
I took the long trip to the West Wing of the baronial castle I live in and after much hunting among the thousands of volumes of classical and historic literature I rescued an old book on the Catalan from the recesses of the library. After six moves I’m comfortable with this position and the plans and strategies that are about to unfold.
7.Qc2 0–0 8.Rd1 Qxc4 is perhaps best but I have an aversion to taking back the c4 pawn so early. It is a Gambit pawn and meant to assist quicker development is my reasoning, so when the Gambit is accepted when exactly do you decide it’s best to leave it and when it’s best to even up the material again?
8…Nbd7 9.Nc3 Again refusing to play the better Qxc4. Top marks for consistency and sticking to beliefs. The plan behind Nc3 was to give support to the e4 square, with a view to pushing the pawn there and then onto e5, moving the black knight on f6 at some stage.
9…b5 10.Ne5 Nxe5 11.dxe5 Nd5 I’m starting to not like my position too much and thinking maybe I should have played Qxc4 but I have a plan and decide to stick with it.
12.e4 Nb4 13.Qe2 Qc7 Another good piece of advice was always try to have a plan. Unfortunately, no-one gave me any advice on what to do when it becomes obvious that the plan I had was a bad plan. Apart from the fact that the e5 pawn is shaky, Nd3 looks really good for black.
14.Qg4 It’s time to try a cheap trick or two. Perhaps I should also have to utilised the mime theatrics I learned while touring Europe with the Moscow State Circus back in the 1950’s, in order to lead my opponent to believe that I had missed my e5 pawn was unprotected.
14…Kh8 Oh come on. Haven’t you noticed the unprotected e5 pawn. 14…Qxe5 15.Bf4 Qf6 16.e5 Qg6 17.Qxg6 fxg6 18.Nxb5 Nd5; 14…Nd3 15.Bh6 Qxe5. I can see why black played Kh8 but Nd3 has to be better.
15.h4 Nd3 16.f4 I’m sure there were better moves but I felt I was already in a losing position, so I might as well hit the panic attack button. It’s throw things up the King side and hope I panic Mr Kasal into making a mistake.
16…Bb7 16…Qb6+ 17.Kh2 b4 18.Na4 Qa5 with the threat of Nf2.
17.Qe2 Bc5+ 18.Kh2 Rad8 19.Rb1 b4 20.Na4 Be7 21.Be3 Ba6 22.Qc2 I was just trying to hold on and the last few moves certainly didn’t make my position any worse.
22…f6 At the time I didn’t think this was a great move. Opening up the position just seemed to offer me some chances or at least give a hope of being able to try another cheap shot.
23.exf6 Bxf6 Even better and I can’t believe my luck. The worst of the three captures available and I’m back in the game.
24.Nc5 Nxc5 25.Bxc5 Be7 26.Be3 c5 27.e5 Rd3 28.Bg1 Having got back into the game I switched off a bit and handed the initiative to Mr Kasal. I am guilty of switching off or even day dreaming and I’m not entirely sure what to do about it.
28…Qa5 Surely 28…Rfd8
29.Be4 b3 This just gives the pawn back and despite all my day dreaming I’m given another chance.
30.axb3 Rxb3 This just gives me the advantage after 31 Rd7. True to form though I played
31.Bxh7 31.Rd7 Rf7 32.Bxh7 Bb5 33.Rdd1
31…Bb5 My opponent has made some poor decisions and seems determined to stop me from beating myself.
The system only allows me to insert two question marks. The plan was 33 Qh5 then 34 Bg6 and 35 Qh7#. I spent a bit of time thinking his plan out and neither of us are in time trouble. So while I’m sitting smugly waiting for my opponent to resign and looking for any way he can refute this forced mate I suddenly notice the minor flaw in my plan. At this point I put my Lady Gaga CD into the internal mind tune player and forward to track 4 – PPPP Poker Face.
Now, my opponent had a habit of writing some (if not all) of his moves down before he played them. I know this is against the chess law but it’s not a big deal for me, I don’t speak Czech, I’ve no idea if Jaroslav speaks English and I’m here to play friendly chess so I leave him to it. When he writes down his next move I have to crank the volume right up and imagine myself as a statue.
32…c3 If you can’t be good be lucky. It’s now a forced win.
33.Qh5 Be2 I had missed this. I did wonder why Jaroslav didn’t instantly resign. I was putting the time he was taking down to him having a while to kill before he got his train home.
34.Qxe2 Qa2 It’s all over now. 34…Kxh7 was also losing now because of the earlier c3. 35.Qc2+ Kh8 36.Qxb3
35.Qh5 Rxb2+ 36.Rxb2 Qxb2+ 37.Kh3 Bd8 38.Bg6+ Kg8 39.Qh7#
Next up one of SFC’s favourite players, that incomparable positional maestro from Luton, Peter Constantinou…
White: Constantinou, Peter (2285) Czech Open
Black: Shalimov, Valery (2412) [A46]
1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 c5 3.c3 Nf6 4.Bg5 cxd4 5.cxd4 h6 6.Bxf6 Qxf6
7.Nc3 7.e4 occupying the centre to justify the loss of the bishop has been the choice of GM Hebden. 7…Bb4+ but white must now either play his knight to the undesirable d2 square or give black a target along the c-file. 8.Nc3 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 White has more space and attacking chances, but the c-pawn can also be a serious weakness.
7…d5 8.e3 Bd6 9.Bd3 Nc6 10.0–0 0–0 11.a3 Rd8 12.b4 As well as pressure down the c-file with a knight to c5, white can also employ a plan with e4, although care must be taken not to activate black’s bishops.
12…Bd7 13.Qb3 Possibly inaccurate as white’s king is now a bit deserted.
13…Rac8 14.Rfc1 g5! logically exploiting white’s transfer of force to the queen-side.
15.Rc2 Kg7 16.Rac1 g4 17.Nd2 h5 18.Na4 h4 18…b6 19.Ba6 Rc7 20.Qb2 with the threat of b5 is unpleasant, so black prefers to continue his king-side demonstration.
19…Bxc5 giving up black’s piece is a major concession and white is now out of danger.19…g3 20.Nf3 gxh2+ 21.Nxh2 holds the king-side and black is again forced to trade his attacking bishop.
20…Rh8?? 20…g3 with counterplay; or 20…Ne7 just preparing to defend on the queenside were both acceptable.
21.Qd1 Suddenly there is a lucky chance to activate the d2 knight due to the weakness of the g4 pawn.
21…Qg5 22.Ne4 Qh5 23.Nd6 white should be completely winning here, but Shalimov now outplays me, nevertheless creating complications with threats to my king.
23…b6 24.R5c3 Rcd8 25.Rxc6 Bxc6 26.Rxc6 Qg5 27.Qc1 27.f4! would have stopped the attack straight away with a winning position.
27…Rh6 28.Nb5 g3 29.fxg3 hxg3 30.h3 Rdh8 31.Rc7 a5 32.Nd6 Rf6 33.Bb5 in the wrong direction. Attacking f7 straight away gives black counterplay. 33.bxa5 bxa5 34.e4 to safeguard the king first of all was probably a better practical idea, though the g3 pawn is still quite annoying.
33…Rf2 34.Be8 Qh4! Black is not interested in passively defending with Rf8 and his attack is now sufficient for a draw.
35.Bxf7 Rxg2+ 36.Kxg2 Qxh3+ 37.Kf3 g2+ 38.Kf2 Qh4+ 39.Ke2 Qh2! 39…Qg4+ wouldn’t be good enough as black has no time to promote. 40.Kd2 g1Q 41.Bxe6+
40.Be8+ Kf8 41.Rf7+ Kg8 42.Rg7+ Taking the rook allows the queen to come in forcing mate or winning black’s queen.
42…Kf8 42…Kxg7 43.Qc7+ Kh6 44.Nf5+ Kg5 45.Qg7+ Kxf5 46.Qg6#
43.Kd3 Rh7?? 43…Qh1! would have forced white to take the perpetual.
44.Rg4 Qh1 45.Rf4+? 45.Kd2! was the precise computer move to reach a very promising endgame with 2 pieces vs the rook.
45…Kg8 45…Rf7!! is an unbelievable defensive resource that could have saved the game. 46.Rxf7+ Kg8 47.Qc8 Qd1+ 48.Kc3 Qc1+ 49.Kb3 Qd1+! (49…Qxc8 50.Nxc8 g1Q would be inaccurate because black will have to deal with a dangerous passed b-pawn.) 50.Kb2 Qe2+ 51.Qc2 Qxc2+ 52.Kxc2 g1Q and the game is far from over. White would endeavour to take b6 with his knight and then shepherd the pawn home, but black’s active queen will cause trouble.
46.Bf7+ Kg7 47.Rg4+ It’s now mate in three, so 1–0
Play through these games with the online viewer below
Endings can be difficult beasts to master with the reduced material belying their complexity. Like many other facets of chess, there are ‘rules’ and guidelines which can be followed to make life easier. Although ‘modern chess’ is being turned on its head somewhat with engine assessments constantly over-riding our ‘understanding’ of the game, endgames have been less affected by this phenomenon (although if you do have examples of such things please send them in!).
So, one commonly understood guideline of endgames is to create a passed pawn (and then push it- Guideline 2!) Hopefully it will turn out to be a strength rather than a weakness and, in general, the further distant from the centre the better! Let’s have a look at 2 recent examples from my own play in which these guidelines proved useful…
White: Burnett,Andrew (2222) Stara Lubovna 2014
Black: Novotny,Adam (1969) [D90]
1.Nf3 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 d5 5.h4 c5 6.dxc5 Qa5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qxd5 Bxc3+ 9.Bd2 Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 Qxd2+ 11.Nxd2 Nc6 12.a3 Be6 13.e3 0–0 14.Bc4 Bxc4 15.Nxc4 Rad8 16.Ke2 Rd5 17.b4 Rfd8 18.Rhd1 a6 19.Rxd5 Rxd5 20.Rb1 Kg7 21.Rb3 Kf6 22.Rd3 Ke6 23.g4 f6 24.f4 h5? 25.Rxd5 Kxd5 26.Nb6+ Ke4
27.f5! This follows one of the main principles of Knight and pawn endgames which states that an outside passed pawn is the hardest for a knight to deal with. White plans with this move to create 2 widely separated passed pawns which Black will find impossible to deal with, very similar to the basic ‘rules’ of K&P endgames. If you are finding difficulty with assessing N&P endgames try to imagine and analyse the position with no knights!
27…g5 28.hxg5 fxg5 29.gxh5?!
29.f6! exf6 30.gxh5 Kf5 31.e4+!
is a lovely little trick which I failed to spot 31…Ke6 (31…Kxe4 32.h6 Ne7 33.h7 Ng6 34.Nc8 (34.Nd7 Nh8) 34…g4 35.Nd6+ Kf4 36.Nxb7 g3 37.c6) 32.Nc4 Kf7 33.Nd6+ Kg7 34.Nxb7 (34.Ne8+ Kf7 35.h6 Ne5 36.h7 Ng6 37.Nd6+ Kg7 38.Nxb7 Kxh7)
30…g4+ At the time it looked like this move might well draw with best play, although the defence still seemed very difficult, e.g.
31.Kg3 Kg5 32.h6 Kxh6 33.Kxg4 Kg6 34.Kf4 Kf6 35.Ke4 Ke6 36.Nc4! but actually, white seems to be winning easily here – our post-match analysis was quite superficial 36…Nd8 (36…Na7 37.a4 (37.Na5) 37…Nc6 38.b5 axb5 39.axb5 Nd8 (39…Na7 40.b6 (40.c6 b6 (40…bxc6 41.b6) 41.Na3 (41.Nxb6 Nxb5 42.Nd5 Kd6) 41…Nc8 42.Nc2 (42.Kd4 Kd6 43.e4 (43.Nc4+ Ke6 44.e4 (44.Ne5 Nd6) 44…Na7 45.Na3 Kd6 46.e5+ Ke6 47.Ke4 Nc8 48.Nc2 Na7 49.Nd4+ Kf7 50.Kd5) 43…e5+ 44.Kc4 Ke6 45.Kb4 Nd6 46.Nc4 Nc8 47.Nxb6 Nxb6 48.Ka5 Nc4+ 49.Ka6 Kd6 50.b6 Kxc6 51.b7 Kc7 52.Ka7) 42…Na7 43.Nd4+ Kd6) ) 40.Ne5 (This seems to be the key idea where the white knight dominates the black one) 37.Ne5 Nc6 (37…Kf6 38.Kd5 e6+ 39.Kd6) 38.Nxc6 bxc6 39.a4 Kf6 40.Kd4 Ke6 41.e4 Kf6 42.b5 cxb5 (42…axb5 43.a5) 43.axb5 axb5 44.c6 Ke6 45.e5! b4 46.Kc4]
31.Kg3 Ke4 32.h6 Nf7 33.h7 Kf5
34.Nc4 and now the knight rejoins the action to create another passed pawn and black can do nothing to counter this plan.
34…Nh8 35.Na5 Kg6 36.Nxb7
White: Burnett,Andrew (2204) Commonwealth
Black: Bhuvaneshwari,R (1708) [B82]
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 a6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Qc7 6.Bd3 Nf6 7.Qe2 d6 8.f4 g6 9.f5 Bg7 10.fxe6 Bxe6 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.e5 dxe5 13.Bg5 Nbd7 14.0–0–0 0–0 15.Bxf6 Nxf6 16.Bc4 Qc6 17.Rhe1 Rad8 18.Rxd8 Rxd8 19.Rd1 Rxd1+ 20.Kxd1 Nd5 21.Nxd5 exd5 22.Bb3 Kh8 23.Qf3 Qf6 24.Bxd5 b6 25.Bc4 Qxf3+ 26.gxf3 a5 27.c3 Bh6 28.Kc2 Bf4 29.h3 g5
30.b4! axb4? This shows that Black maybe doesn’t appreciate the dangers in such endings. Giving white a passed pawn as far as possible from the Black king isn’t clever. Although the position should still be drawn, errors like this tend to lead to other mistakes and suddenly the position falls apart. 30…Kg7 31.bxa5 bxa5 was a better approach as will become clear
31.cxb4 Kg7 32.Kb3 Kf6 33.Ka4 Ke7 34.Kb5 Be3 34…Bd2 35.Kxb6 Bxb4 36.a4 Kd7 37.a5 Kc8 38.a6 Kb8 39.a7+ Ka8 40.Bd5# is a line which illustrates why the Black king can’t take over defensive duties against the a-pawn
35.Kc6! Keeping the Black king out of the game for a while
35…Bd4 35…h5 36.Bd3 Kf6 37.a4 g4 (37…e4 38.Bxe4 Ke5 39.Bg6 wins for white) 38.fxg4 hxg4 39.hxg4 Kg5 40.Be2 Kf4 41.a5 bxa5 42.bxa5 e4 43.a6 Bd4 44.Kb7 Ke3 45.g5 Kxe2 46.g6 e3 47.a7 Bxa7 48.g7 is also winning for white – long lines, but the ideas are all very similar; Black wants to get rid of all the pawns and try to draw with 1 pawn vs the queen, or bishop and pawn versus queen.
36.a4 Be3 37.Bd3 h6 38.Bf5 Bd4 39.a5 bxa5 40.bxa5
40…Kf6? I think this is where the game turns from being a draw, to a win for white.
40…Be3 seems to hold 41.a6 Bd4 42.Kb7 Kd6 43.a7 (43.Bg6 Bc5 (43…Kd5 44.Bf7+ Kc5 45.a7) 44.a7 Bxa7 45.Kxa7 Kc5 46.Be4 Kd4 47.Kb6 h5) 43…Bxa7 44.Kxa7 Kc5 45.Kb7 Kd4 46.Kc6 h5 47.Kd6 Ke3 48.Be4 Kf4 followed by …g4 liquidating everything down to a draw.
41.Bg4 Kg6 42.a6 h5 43.Bd7 g4 44.hxg4 44.fxg4 hxg4 45.hxg4 (45.Bxg4? leaves the wrong coloured rooks pawn for the bishop so is drawn.) 45…Kg5 and white can’t shift the king or bishop without allowing the trade of g-pawn for e-pawn and a draw
44…h4 44…hxg4 45.Bxg4 Kg5 46.Be6 Kf4 47.Bd5 wins for white 45.Bf5+ Kg5
46.Bd3! This defensive manouevre has probably been seen before, but it is study-like and I was still very pleased to find the winning idea…put the bishop on h1!!
46…h3 46…Kf4 47.Bf1 Kxf3 48.g5 Kf2 49.g6 Kxf1 50.g7 h3 51.g8Q h2 52.Qh7 Kg2 53.Qe4+ Kg1 54.Qg4+ Kf1 55.Qf3+ Kg1 56.Qg3+ Kh1 57.Kb7 e4 58.Qe1+ Kg2 59.Qxe4+ Kg3 60.Qd3+ Kg2 61.Qxd4 h1Q 62.Qe4+
47.Bf1 h2 48.Bg2 Kf4 49.Bh1 Be3 49…Kg3 50.g5 Kf2 51.g6 Kg1 (51…e4 52.fxe4 Kg1 53.a7 Bxa7 54.g7 Kxh1 55.g8Q is similar to main note) 52.g7 Kxh1 53.g8Q Ba7 54.Kd5 and the white king simply walks down to f1 and Black gets mated.
50.Kb7 Bd4 51.a7 Bxa7 52.Kxa7
52…e4 52…Kg3 53.g5 Kf2 54.g6 Kg1 55.g7 Kxh1 56.g8Q e4 isn’t a real stalemate option as white simply plays 57.f4 when 57…e3 58.f5 e2 59.Qg3! mops up efficiently
53.fxe4 Kxg4 54.Kb6 Kf4 55.Kc5 Ke5 56.Bg2 Kf4 57.Kd6 Kg3 58.Bh1 Kf2 59.e5 Kg1 60.Ba8! Just to point out to my opponent that I’d seen that the bishop was hanging! A tough game, with some quite bad middle-game play on my part, but squeezing out wins in these types of ‘drawn’ endings is always enjoyable!
Play through these 2 games in full
After languishing at 2200 level for more years than I care to remember, I decided in late-spring this year that it was high-time I got myself a Master title. Setting myself the target of FM (2300 elo) within a year, and IM (2400 elo plus norms) within 2 years, I upped sticks and headed for pastures new – Slovakia.
With more FIDE-rated events than I could possibly hope to play in the UK, let alone Scotland – and with close neighbour the Czech Republic boasting an excellently-run tour of 8 events throughout the year – it seemed to be the perfect spot to start my campaign. With my FIDE rating at 2192 after a disappointing Scottish and Commonwealth Championships, I felt I needed to get off to a good start to gain some impetus for a string of tough events I had planned.
My warm-up event, a rapid-play in a small, rather ugly town called Humenne went well – wins in the last 2 rounds against Slovakian Olympians WIM Mrvova and GM Petrik boosted my confidence before heading off to the Olomouc Open here I had arranged to meet up with fellow elo-seekers Peter Constantinou and Mikey Groves.
A good start is imperative in these big opens, otherwise you can end up facing the yo-yo effect where you lose to strong players and then face much weaker players, repeated ad infinitum! My first round went well….
Burnett,Andrew (2194) – Samarin,Leonid (1804)
28.Rxd5! Rxg5 28…cxd5 29.Bf6+ wins
29.Rxd7 and now the mate on h7 is almost impossible to avoid.
29…Rxe5+ 30.Kf1 Qb5+ 31.Be2 and Black staggered on for a few moves before resigning.
This was followed by a couple of missed opportunities – including this howler in a completely winning endgame…
Burnett (2194) – Saikrishnan (2000)
40.Kd2?? 40.Kd1! 40…Rb6 and the game-winning b-pawn is lost!
The double-round day went really well, and the finish to this game was very pleasing
Burnett,Andrew (2194) – Ludvigsen,Frode (2113)
23…Rb8?? 24.Ncd6+ and Black is quickly mated.
I was really hoping for 23…Kb7? as I had calculated the beautiful mating finish 24.Ned6+!! Bxd6 25.Na5+ Kxb6
26.Qxc6+ Kxa5 27.b4+ Bxb4 28.axb4+ Kxb4 29.Rb1+ Ka5 30.Qc3+ Ka4 31.Qb4#;
After this game I had to pay a visit to the Olomouc A&E department as the mosquitos had taken an intense liking to my Scottish blood, resulting in a painful and ugly swelling on my leg. The language barrier was a problem though…
Me: ‘Sorry, I don’t speak Czech’, pointing to my leg, hoping the problem was obvious. ‘Do you speak English?’
Doctor: ‘No. Govorite po Russki?’ (do you speak Russian?)
Me: ‘Sorry, nyet’, I joked. ‘Sprechen Sie Deutsch’, I asked hopefully.
Doctor: ‘Nein!’ she said (obviously getting in on the humour). ‘Habla espanol?’ she enquired.
Me: ‘Soy el tonto el pueblo’, (I’m the village idiot) I responded. It was either that or ‘una cerveza por favor’, neither of which seemed likely to solve my problem.
And, in the world-wide tradition of doctors who have tired of humanity and their numerous ailments, Doctor Sanchez produced a foot-long needle and jagged it into the boniest part of my arse. Problem solved within a day or two, but next time I’m taking a translator!
With a further win and 2 draws I went into the final round undefeated and faced 2470–rated IM Pavel Simacek for a major share of the spoils.
Burnett,Andrew (2204) – Simacek,Pavel (2470)
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Nb3 d6 8.Be2 0–0 and now I uncorked a ‘Streetfighting-Special’ – one of those dubious/aggressive ideas which are perfect for must-win, last-round games against the big boys!
9.g4!? after 30 minutes thought my opponent declined to enter the critical line 9…d5!?, instead playing 9…a6, and somewhere along the way he lost the thread of the game. Despite missing the same winning idea about 5 times in a row, I played well enough to win and share 4th spot! A cash-prize which covered the week’s expenses, plus 21 elo points in the bag, was better than I could have hoped for – ‘perhaps I’ve made the right decision after all’ were my immediate thoughts!
Nove Zamky was next on the itinerary; a 7–round Open over 4 days, about an hour from Bratislava. My accommodation, though incredibly cheap, was spartan in the extreme, and my first port of call was the local Tesco for a screwdriver to secure my door! The elevator from hell did it’s best to shrug (or rather plummet) me off this mortal coil, but I survived and produced some good chess.
I had my moments of good fortune along the way though…
Janko,Michael (2287) – Burnett,Andrew (2194)
I had missed several wins earlier and should now be well and truly lost, but my opponent had left himself with only the 30 second increment to play with and the position is still extremely sharp.
37…Rxa2!!= accompanied by a draw offer!
38.Rxa2 which he declined after 27 seconds thought, a very dangerous thing to do with so little time left.
38…Qe1+ 39.Qf1 Qe3+ 40.Kh1 Rf4 41.Qe2?? and here is the blunder which I pretty much expected to arrive at some point. 41…Qc1+ 42.Rg1 Qc6!!
Mate is unavoidable! The game ended 43.Rg2 Nf2+ 44.Kg1 Qc1+ 44…Nh3+ 45.Kh1 Qc1+ amounts to the same thing 45.Qf1 Nh3+ and mate in 2, so white resigned 0–1
My opponent’s behaviour after the game was nothing short of pathetic, calling me a lucky bastard and firing off the f-bomb umpteen times while throwing his score-sheet and hat to the floor. On the plus side I discovered I must have mellowed a bit with age as I didn’t deck him as I might once have done!
In the 8th round one of my best played games of the year against a tough opponent saw the following beautiful little finish…
Burnett,Andrew (2194) – Horvath FM,Mario (2274)
39.Nxe6!! and black’s king cannot escape from the mating net created by the knight.
This set me up for another last-round must-win situation!
Slacky,Stanislav (2182) – Burnett,Andrew (2194)
I had played for this position, spotting some very smart mating ideas against the white king, but unfortunately I believed my opponent’s last move, 30.Rc3, which threatened to chop the bishop on f3 should I try to mate with …Rxh2 immediately. However, it still works!
30…Rxh2! 31.Rxf3 Rbh5!! and to avoid mate white has to give up almost all his material 32.g4 Rh1+ 33.Kg2 exf3+ 34.Kxf3 Rxa1 35.gxh5 Rxa7
Instead i played 30…Rbg5? but after 31.Raa3 I had fortunately spotted my error on the previous move and white couldn’t really avoid the same idea, although the game version does allow white some wriggle-room.
31…Rxh2 32.Rc8+ Kh7 33.Rxf3 Rgh5 34.g4 Rh1+ 35.Kg2 R5h2+ 36.Kg3 Rh3+ 37.Kf4 exf3 38.Rc7 f6 39.Bc5 Rc1 0–1
So, I finished 2nd= , again covering my costs (including the screwdriver!) and pocketed a whopping +31 elo points to boot! The FM title was actually in my sights after only 2 events.
In Part 2 of ‘To FM-ity and beyond!’ I’ll be looking at the next two events I played in Slovakia, both of which I’d recommend to anyone looking for either a chess-playing holiday, or on a hunt for points and norms.
Play through all your editor’s games from Olomouc and Nove Zamky below
Coming next issue!
-Brno and Pilsen Opens -the likely lads continue their Czech adventures
-To FMity and beyond! - Part 2 of your editors search for a Master title
-and much more!