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Issue 4 – January 2015
Chess in the High Tatras!
If you are looking to play chess in a beautiful setting, you could do far worse than visit Slovakia’s premier tournament, the Tatry Open!
Set in the Vysoke Tatry (High Tatras), you are surrounded by snow-capped peaks and can choose whether to stay in the venue itself at Tatranske Zruby, in Poprad (the biggest town only 20 minutes away on the mountain railway) or in one of numerous little towns in the foothills. We chose to rent an apartment in Stary Smokovec, only 2 km from the venue, and it was a perfect choice. Waking every day to the craggy peaks hanging over you is a sure-fire way to relax before playing!
The tournament itself has been going for a long time – since 1952 in fact- initially as a closed event but more recently as a large open. Previously it would visit various towns in the Tatras but since 2000 it has found a permanent home in Tatranske Zruby. I first played it in 2007 and have been itching to return ever since. This year I persuaded my good friends Mikey Grove and Peter Constantinou to join me – and what follows is a tale of the 3 SFC musketeers, fears over bears (and perhaps a few tears!)
Getting to the tournament isn’t too difficult. Poprad is on the main train line, has a domestic airport and is a popular base for mountaineers, hill-walkers, ski-ers and…chess players! From Poprad there is a mountain railway which serves the foothills from Strbske Pleso in the west to Tatranska Lomnica in the east. Click on the image below for a more detailed view of the area.
In 2007 I had stayed in the hotel venue, now re-named the Hotel Granit Zruby, and this is a fine option with reduced rates when booked through the organisers. This year our little apartment in Stary Smokovec meant a 5-minute train ride, or a 15-minute walk. Given the spectacular nature of the surroundings, the walk through the woods became our preferred option. The walk back, however, became a source of great mirth and fear! Finishing rounds at 10pm or so, and ostensibly being ‘in the middle of nowhere’, we decided to stick to the main road which had at least some light to guide us (actually, peering in the dark at the white line was our main guide!)
What you really don’t want during such a walk is a loud, growling, howling noise to appear nearby! Of course, our first evening this is exactly what we had to accompany us for half the way home. A bear? A wolf? Just a cow/bull from the nearby fields? Hmmmm.
Our views on how to deal with an encounter with any of the above differed; Mikey was convinced ‘kung-fu elbows’ would fix the situation; Peter felt that ‘walking quickly and talking loudly’ would ward off our unwelcome and invisible companion; I, on the other hand – and in the time-honoured tradition of sneaky chess-players – was silently wondering how long it would take the beast to eat both Peter and Mikey before turning its attention to me? There being hardly a scrap of meat on these two boys, I was hoping our predator’s night vision couldn’t discern the difference between a fat, lumbering meal (me) or two skinny, fleet-of-foot snacks Peter and Mikey).
Eventually I figured I’d just about have time to make it to safety if I practiced my ‘trip-them-up-and-run’ opening gambit – and at least their obituaries would make for interesting reading!
Asking around the following day, the general consensus was that it was most likely a brown bear, though possibly just a big cow. Googling ‘bear attacks in the Tatras’ led me to search for a local taxi firm, but the 12 euro price tag meant that if we missed the last train back each evening we’d be back on the menu again. My daily preparation therefore consisted of a little bit of chess, and then ‘Elbow, trip…run! Elbow, trip…run!’ when the others weren’t paying attention.
To the chess itself now – finally! It turned out to be a strong tournament, with Peter, me and Mikey being seeded 15th, 36th and 94th on rating respectively. With 243 entrants, the accelerated pairings were a must (but not normal in Slovak – or Czech – events).
The 1st round went by with no real problems, but round 2 saw Burnett-Constantinou on the pairing sheet! An interesting game ensued (covered last month in issue 3) and I think we were both secretly happy that a draw resulted.
Round 3 saw me paired with IM Leonid Kernazhitsky and an even game erupted just before the time control….
The threat of 35.Qh6 is quite scary but I thought I had found a way out and quickly played…
34…Rxb3? 35. Qh6 Nh5 and now 36. Bxh5 Rxh3 37.gxh3 Qf2! gives me enough counterplay to draw. Unfortunately I had missed the strength of
when now 37.Be4! would be curtains. My opponent played this idea a move or 2 later, still good enough to win.
From the diagram I could have defended with 34…Qd4! when 35. Qh6 Ne8! holds things together for black and he is not worse after a subsequent …Qg7. A tough loss, but well played by my opponent.
Mikey started his yo-yo in this round – losing to the 22-2300’s and beating the 1800’s. It can be very difficult to break this cycle and the little bit of luck sometimes required just wasn’t with Mikey in the Tatras this time.
Peter’s tournament was solid yet again, but trying out the Kan variation for the first time in round 6 proved a set-back as his young opponent played very accurately.
My own event was one of what could have been, as despite draws in rounds 5 and 6 against tough young local players, I reached the last round with everything to play for. Board 6 against a 2373-rated opponent, and win meant decent prize-money and much-sought after elo points. Here’s what happened….
Vojta,Tomas (2373) – Burnett,Andrew (2222) [B21]
Tatry Open (9), 05.10.2014
1.e4 c5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 Nf6 4.Nf3
4.Bb5+ is more popular when the continuation 4…Bd7 5.Bxd7+ Qxd7 6.c4 e6 7.Qe2 Bd6 8.dxe6 fxe6 9.d3 0-0 10.Nf3 Nc6 11.0-0 Rae8 is one of the old main-lines and 12.Nc3 e5 13.f5 Qxf5 14.Bg5 was seen in a Short-Kasparov rapid game many moons ago.
4…Nxd5 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bc4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 e6 8.Qe2 Be7 9.0-0 0-0
My preparation ended here, as I had also had to look at the London System and a b3 version of this game’s opening which my opponent sometimes favoured. It was pretty clear that his 2370+ rating was not generated by victories in the opening, but rather by strong middle-game play, and he was only aiming for a playable position from the opening.
I was also fairly happy at this point though, as I know last-round games tend to be nervy affairs and I felt this position offered chances for both sides to do something.
10.Bd3 Qc7 11.Ne5 f5!
This move puts paid to any hack-attacks white may have envisaged on the k-side and the pawn structure is fine for black as white will be unable to exploit e5/e6.
12.Nxc6 Qxc6 13.Rb1 a6 14.c4 Rf6!?
Attempting to create a weakness on white k-side.
15.Bb2 Rg6 16.Bc3 Bd6 17.Qf3
I wanted to play 17…Qc7 here, but was a bit concerned about 18.a4 Rg4 (18…Rb8 19.a5 was my worry, but after 19…Bd7 I have probably forced the weakening I desired 20.g3 (20.Rb6? Bc6 21.Rxc6 Qxc6 22.Qxc6 bxc6) 20…Bc6 21.Qe3 Re8 although here 22.Rb6 is annoying since 22…h5 23.Be2 h4 24.Bh5 favours white 24…Rh6 25.Bxe8 Bxe8 and black’s k-side play ought not be enough to compensate the material investment.) 19.Qe2 Bxf4 20.Bxf5 Bxh2+ 21.Kh1 Rh4 22.Bxe6+ Bxe6 23.Qxe6+ Kh8 24.Rf7 Be5+ 25.Kg1 Bd4+ (25…Bxc3 26.Rxc7) 26.Bxd4 Qh2+ 27.Kf2 Rf4+ 28.Rxf4 Qxf4+ 29.Kg1 Qxd4+ 30.Kh2 Qxd2 31.Rxb7
18.Rxf3 Bd7 19.Rg3?!
This move seemed to me to be a concession, as now his king-side pawns are weakened. 19.Rxb7?? Bc6 is obviously no good, but 19.g3 is preferable now that the queens are off.
19…Rxg3 20.hxg3 Rb8 21.Kf2 b5 22.Re1 h6 23.Be5 Rb6
although the position is still basically equal, white most probably has to be the more careful of the two sides.
24.g4!? is an interesting choice from Houdini, which seeks to rid white of the doubled g-pawn and activate his king. After 24…fxg4 25.Kg3 bxc4 26.Bxc4 Kf7 27.Kxg4 (27.f5? Bxe5+ 28.Rxe5 Kf6; 27.d3!? h5) 27…Bxe5 28.Rxe5 Rb2 a draw would be the most likely result as pawns are being rapidly exchanged. 29.Rxc5 Rxc2 30.d3 (30.Bxe6+?? Bxe6+ is check!) 30…Ke7 31.Ra5 Rxg2+ 32.Kf3 Bc6+ 33.Ke3]
24…Kf7 25.Re3 b4!
This move will force white to tread carefully as Black has a passed a-pawn now.
26.axb4 cxb4 27.Bd4 Rc6 28.Re1 g5 29.Ke3 g4
The engine is less impressed by this plan than I was (still am!) I felt if I could get h5-h4 in white might be struggling, although i have to take care that my pieces don’t become too vulnerable to tactics.
30.Ra1 Be7 31.Ra2 h5 32.Ra1
Marking time to gain some precious increment seconds on the clock!
This is a little dangerous
33…bxc3 34.Bxc3 Bc5+ 35.Ke2
35.Bd4 Bb4! and the position remains very tense. (35…Bxd4+?! 36.Kxd4 Rd6+ 37.Kc3 Bb7 38.c5 Rd8 looks trouble-some for Black.)
35…Bb7 36.Bc2 Bd6 37.Rb1 Ba8 38.d3 Bc7
38…h4!? and 38…Rc8 are both improvements
39.Ba4! This might have put black in some trouble 39…Rb6 40.Rh1 Bxg2 (40…Kg6?? actually gets mated! More on this later… 41.Be8+) 41.Rxh5
39…h4 40.Ba4 Rd6 41.Be5 h3!
By now almost all the other games were finished and a large crowd had gathered. I thought here white was close to being lost, but he has many resources left!
42.Bxd6 Bxd6 43.gxh3 gxh3 44.c5! is the very clever idea he had to find to keep the balance. Now the forced variation 44…Bxc5 45.Be8+ Kxe8 (45…Ke7 46.Bh5 h2 47.Bf3 Bd5 48.Bxd5 exd5 49.Kf3 a5 50.Kg2 Bb4 51.Kxh2 d4 52.Kh3) 46.Rb8+ Kd7 47.Rxa8 h2 48.Rh8 Bg1 probably ought to peter out to a draw 49.Kf1 Kc6 50.Kg2 The king keeps an eye on the h-pawn, which releases the rook to go scavenging. 50…a5 51.Re8 a4 52.Rxe6+ Kb5 53.Re5+ Kb4 54.Rxf5 a3 55.Rf8 a2 56.Ra8 (56.Rb8+? Bb6! is very dangerous for white, but if he keeps his head he should be able to set up a fortress after 57.Rxb6+ Ka5 58.Rb8 h1Q+ 59.Kxh1 a1Q+ 60.Kg2 Qd4 61.Re8 Qxd3 62.Re5+)
This move felt good to play! It’s not completely decisive yet though.
43.Kxd3? Be4+ 44.Ke2 Bxb1 45.gxh3 gxh3 46.Bc6 Bxe5 47.fxe5 Be4 would win]
I was loathe to leave the g-pawn on the board, but also wanted to create some space for my rook, so 43…Ra3! may have been superior 44.gxh3 gxh3 45.Bd7 (45.Rb8? Rxa4 46.Rxa8 h2 47.Rh8 Ra1 48.Rxh2 Ra2+ 49.Kd3 Rxh2 is a relatively simple technical win) 45…Bf3+ 46.Kf2 h2 47.c6 h1Q 48.Rxh1 Bxh1 and black ought to win this with his passed a-pawn 49.Bd6 (49.Bb6 Rc3 50.c7 Bb7 51.Ke2 Ke7 52.Kd2 Rb3 53.Bc6 Bc8 54.Bc5+ Kf7) 49…Rd3 50.c7 Bb7 51.Bc6 Bc8 52.Be5-+]
With several choices each move for both sides, and the clock becoming more relevant, if not yet a serious issue, it’s difficult to play this position exactly. 44…gxh3 may have been more accurate. 45.c6
and the same goes for white. 45.Kf1!
45…Rg2+ 46.Kf1 gxh3 47.Rb8 Be2+
47…Ra2 is only a draw after 48.Be8+ Ke7 49.Be5 h2 50.Bd6+ Kf6 51.Be5+=
and it’s here where I started hallucinating about white mating me!
48…h2 49.Rh8 Bb5 looks like a clear win for black – but the engine finds a ridiculous resource with 50.Bd1!!
when 50…Rg1+ 51.Kf2 h1Q 52.Bh5+ Ke7 53.Bd6+ Kd7 54.Be8+ Kc8 running with the king, but there is no completely safe square since 55.Bh5+ Kb7 56.Bf3+! Qxf3+ 57.Kxf3 is more drawn than winning! Naturally, neither of us saw this remarkable idea at all!
This should lose now. 49.Bd1! still draws as per the previous note.
Disaster strikes!! I still had a few minutes left, but kept thinking I was getting mated after 49…h2! 50.Be8+ Kg7 51.Be5+ Kh6! (51…Kh7?? 52.Bg6+ Kxg6 (52…Rxg6 53.Rh8#) 53.Rh8 and Black wins the rook but loses the game! 53…Rg1+ 54.Kd2! h1Q 55.Rxh1 Rxh1 56.c6 and the pawn can only be stopped by giving up the rook for it, which loses.)
and now white plays…..wait for it…….Rh8mate!!!
A stupendous move!! Only problem is, it’s completely f****** illegal! Aaaaargh!
50.Kf1 Rc2 51.Kg1 Rxc5 52.Be5 Rc2
53.Rxb5 Kg6 54.Rb2
and in my shattered mind I thought this was just drawn
54…Rxb2 55.Bxb2 Kh5
56.Kh2?? Kg4 is the only line I had considered, and is indeed drawn.
and here, shell-shocked, I resigned as the h-pawn will fall and I will be eventually zugzwanged into losing the other pawns as well.
and thus ended the 2014 version of the Tatry Open!
The chess was enjoyable and interesting, but there is of course much more to playing tournaments than simply pushing the wood for most players. Every day Peter would decide, “Tomorrow I’m going to climb this mountain”, pointing in the general direction of…..
at the very top of which there is this breath-taking building….
Perhaps ‘climb’ wasn’t his chosen word – there is a cable-car which takes you up there (and back!) – but each day passed and we never made it. Personally-speaking, I’m terrible with heights, and would most likely have passed out half-way up the mountainside. Mikey, on the other hand, is terrible at getting out of bed early enough to do anything other than shower-eat-play chess! So, next year I propose to take a chess-playing Sherpa Tensing just to accompany Peter to the top…any takers out there??
Full results of the Tatry Open 2014 here
Replay all the editor’s games below
Anyone interested in playing the First Saturday events in Budapest, please contact me here at streetfightingchess in the first instance.
Lesson with a Grandmaster!
My Birthday Gift
by Mike Denson
Recently I bought myself a birthday present. An hour-long lesson with a Grandmaster, Gregory Kaidanov by name. What follows are my initial thoughts on the experience.
It’s difficult to find any OTB chess to play locally, so all my play is on chess.com, and all of that is ‘turn-based’ chess, the modern version of correspondence chess. You might wonder why I don’t play Live chess, since it’s much more challenging and closer to OTB play, and I don’t have a very good answer, other than to say I find it hard to commit to the time. Weak excuse, I know, but it’s all I have at the moment. Gregory began by noting that my play was a lot different than most of his students, many of whom are preparing for their next tournament. But, with this noted, we pressed on.
Having reviewed about 10 of my recent chess.com games, Gregory had some insights into a few of my weaknesses and strengths. We’ll concentrate on my weaknesses, as Gregory did. The primary one being my amazing ability to toss a game I’m winning (ahead in material, or space, and with the initiative) right into the waste basket, by blundering away my advantage. The game generally goes down-hill fast. And this isn’t just an occasional problem, you’d think I was making a career out of losing.
Gregory had a few philosophical thoughts to begin with. He suggested that I treat winning positions seriously and not sit back and become complacent. I don’t think I do this, but it’s worth keeping in mind and watching out for. He then told me that once I recognize my weaknesses, not to try to solve them all at once. Rather, take the most troublesome and work on it until it’s no longer a problem. Then work on the next, but only work on one problem at a time, and it may take quite a while to resolve, but just keep working on it.
His next piece of advice is to always keep a sense of danger in every position. Now that I put this in writing it seems obvious, but I don’t think I did this, and it can only help. And, referring back to the last paragraph, he cautioned me to “stay focused on the weakness I’m trying to eliminate, and that I’m playing against myself as much as against my opponent.
Everyone blunders, and those of us in the Club Player’ category blunder a lot. Gregory suggested the book “Think like a Grandmaster” by Alexander Kotov, where Kotov has a chapter dedicated to reducing blunders. The rest of the hour was spent reviewing several of my games and helping me see things that I’d missed.
So, was this session worth 5 times what I pay my regular coach? It’s hard to say. Will this improve my game? No, I doubt it, but I didn’t expect a one hour lesson to work miracles. But it was worth it just to spend an hour with a Grandmaster discussing my games and hearing his insights into my play. Will I return for another lesson, perhaps, I haven’t decided yet. And the big question: Am I glad I did it? And to that I give a resounding yes. But I look forward to my next lesson with my regular coach, and pressing on trying to improve my game.
The Czech Tour – continued!
Brno Open 2014
Having been to Brno before, the idea of visiting again for a chess tournament seemed like a perfect way to re-acquaint myself with the city, and combine ‘work’ with the company of old friends. Such perfect plans rarely work out the way we plan them, however…
On reaching Brno, I recognised absolutely nothing of the city apart from the fortified Spillberk Castle looming overhead on the hill. Figuring that since the buildings were all old, and my previous 3 week stay had been of the ‘pub/pivo/party each and every waking moment’ variety, it was most likely my own fault I couldn’t navigate my way to the hotel rather than some grand, overnight reconstruction of the city to blame!
The following day, in the company of SFC stalwarts Peter C. and Mikey G. the same problems arose…..
After 3 aborted attempts at finding the venue, we returned to the hotel, phoned the main man to tell him we’d be late….
…and had someone call us a taxi!
‘Could have done this 2 hours ago,’ may have been my comment to Peter, a young-ish lad inclined towards long walks in the fresh air as ‘preparation’ for a game. Mikey and I prefer the more leisurely approach – bus/taxi and coffee/cigarettes.
Brno itself was in the grip of a ‘cold grey sky’ month, so much of it’s charm and beauty was lost to us – and with my ‘old friends’ disappearing to climb some mountains in Italy the day before my arrival, the Brno Open seemed destined to be a ‘chess week’ and not much else. So, without further delay…..
The first couple of rounds were negotiated without too much harm to the elo-favourites, but come round 3 I came unstuck…
Rehurek,Lukas (2188) – Burnett,Andrew (2269) [B42]
Brno Open (3), 17.11.2014
15…a5!? makes more sense, trying to conquer the c5 and d4 squares. The game move is typical ‘dynamism’ on my part, backed up with slightly shoddy calculation and an optimistic assessment.
16.Nxc5 dxc5 17.Bxc5 Nd4
This was my idea, but it’s a little too hopeful and Black will struggle to hold the balance never mind press for more now.
I had thought that 18…Bxc1 might be a possibility, but the more I looked at the lines starting 19.Bxe5 the less appealing it got. The main problem is what to do against white’s long-term plan of advancing the f- and e-pawns? I couldn’t find a solution so gave up on the exchange grab, but I’m already committed to an investment of some kind now. 19…Bg5 (19…Bh6 20.f4 Bxd5 21.exd5 (21.cxd5) 21…g6 22.Qe4 Bg7 23.b4) 20.b4 Bxd5 21.exd5 Qb6+ 22.Kh1 Qxb4]
This is just very, very bad and costs me at least 2 tempii which I simply cannot afford in this position. 19…Bxd5 20.cxd5 Be3+ 21.Kh1 white is now 2 tempii away from the arrangement of g3 and Kg2 which he achieves in the game and this gives black some hope. 21…Qd7 22.Rxc8 Rxc8 23.g3 Qa4 24.a3 (24.b3 Qd7 25.f4 f5 26.Qf3 (26.e5 Qxd5+ 27.Qg2 Qxg2+ 28.Kxg2) 26…fxe4 27.Qxe4 g6 28.Rf1 Re8 29.Qf3) 24…Qxd1+ 25.Qxd1 Rc1 26.Qxc1 Bxc1]
The rest of the game is rather painful and my opponent didn’t give me any chances.
20.g3 Bxd5 21.cxd5 Be3+ 22.Kg2 Qd7 23.Rxc8 Rxc8 24.f4 f6 25.h3 g6 26.Qg4 Qxg4 27.hxg4 Rc1 28.Rxc1 Bxc1 29.b3 Ba3 30.e5 fxe5 31.fxe5 Bb4 32.Kf3 Be1 33.Ke4 Bxg3 34.Kxd4 Bf2+ 35.Ke4 Kf7 36.d6 h5 37.Bc4+ Ke8 38.gxh5 gxh5 39.e6 h4 40.Bf1 Bg3 41.Kd5 b5 42.Bh3 a5 43.e7 1-0
Elsewhere things were going quite well, at least for our friend Nondas, who was scything his way through the field at an alarming rate, and would go on to win the event without really breaking sweat.
Here is how he dealt with one of Poland’s leading females….
Kulon,Klaudia (2374) – Kourousis,Epameinondas (2384) [A36]
Brno 2014 (5.1), 19.11.2014
1.c4 Nf6 2.g3 e6 3.Bg2 a6
I frequently employ this …a6 system against the Reti 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 a6 and now on 4.Bg2 b5, while after 4.Nc3 d5 seems good for black, although, after the game move order, it is also perfectly playable -alas quite passive.
I did not like allowing White to place her pawn on e5 after 4…d5 5.e5 Nfd7 6.cxd5 exd5 7.d4
5.e5 Ng8 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.0-0 Nge7 8.Nc3 Nf5 is OK for black, with an eventual …d6 break
5…d6 6.Nge2 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8.a3 Nc6 9.Rb1
9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Bd7 was another possibility
9…Nd7 10.d3 Qc7?!
Finally! Black lacks space, so it is seems a good idea to exchange a pair of knights
12.Be3 Nxe2+ 13.Qxe2 b6 14.bxc5
14.f4 Bb7= Black stands perfectly: white cannot easily play f5 (because it gives away the e5 square) and after an eventual d4 cd4 the hedgehog position arising is simply good for black.
14.e5 Bb7 15.exd6 Bxd6 16.Bxb7 Qxb7 17.Ne4 Qc6 18.Nxd6 Qxd6 19.bxc5 bxc5 20.Rfe1 e5 is also ok for black
15.Bf4! Qa7 16.e5 Bb7 17.Ne4 Rad8 18.a4 Ba8 (18…Qa8 19.a5 bxa5 20.Rxb7) 19.h4 was definitely a better try, keeping the tension, as well as some attacking chances on the K-side.
15…Bb7 16.Bxb7 Qxb7 17.f4 Qc6 18.Ne4 Rab8 19.Bc1 b5 20.Bb2 Rb6 21.Rbd1 Rd8
21…bxc4 22.dxc4 Rxb2? 23.Qxb2 Qxe4 24.Rxd7 was the point
22.Ba1 Nf8 23.g4
Double-edged; aggressive, but at the same time creating further weaknesses (f4,g4)
slows down White’s initiative on the K-side by exchanging a pair of rooks.
24.dxc4 Rxd1 25.Rxd1 Qb7
trying to penetrate and attack White’s weaknesses
26.f5! forwards only 26…Rb1 27.f6! Bxf6 28.exf6 Rxd1+ 29.Qxd1 Qxe4 30.fxg7 Nd7 31.Qxd7 Qe1+= is a nice computer line
missing Black’s idea. 27.Bc3 Ng6 28.Rf1 Nh4
28.Ng3 Bh4 29.Nf1 Rxa3-+ is hopeless as well
In this very same round our man Peter C. had a disaster: unwilling to accept his endgame was drawn, he completely forget that his opponent might actually be able to win also!
I faced the strong young Ukrainian talent Kirill Shevchenko…
…unwittingly improved on Topalov’s play in a sharp Sicilian Dragon line…
…then missed a clear win after standing worse…
…after which the game ended in a draw. As did my next 3 games, with my 2100/2200 opposition proving ridiculously difficult to break down. Nevertheless, come the final round I was still in with a shout at the prize-money and found myself with the black pieces against the top seed, GM Mikhail Simantsev, from Ukraine.
Despite having decent chances and playing quite well, I erred late on and the professional did what professionals do best, finishing me off cleanly. So, a lot of elo points lost, but a lot of experience gained! The worrying part was my 2 last-round losses in Tatry and here in Brno, although on the plus side even reaching these stages of the tournament and still being in with a chance was encouraging. Still, it wouldn’t do to make a habit of it!
Play through the Brno games here
full results of Brno Open 2014 here
The prize-giving was the usual Czech affair, with EVERYONE winning something. I boosted my supply of clean t-shirts with an XXL black Pardubice effort, while Mikey Groves was as surprised as anyone else when he was called up for the under 2100-rating prize of 500Kc (Czech crowns)
League chess around the World!
Part 1-the Slovak Liga
The wealth and beauty of the Slovak chess scene lies in its dynamic life! There are many leagues on various levels, starting from the little local leagues formed to meet the needs of an official structure for bigger villages with enough players to compose a team. This just goes to show there is chess anywhere you might go!
Next are county leagues (of which there are fifteen) and it is here already where the approach to chess becomes serious. The playing format is almost exclusively five players for each side, although some have established eight player teams. You’ll find a total newbie on board five and fight against a 2000+ rated guy on board one.
What follows is a regional league, basically requiring players of at least a moderate strength to participate if a team has any ambitions for success.
Even stronger are four divisions of the second league. Eastern, Western, Southern and Northern Slovakian leagues are really interesting because many Fide titled players face-off to promote to one of the first leagues that splits Slovakia into East and West while mixing with us, mere mortals, under 2000 rating like me.
Then it’s just the absolute top of the pile in the so-called “Šachová Extraliga SK Commander”, which is the ultimate competition. Grandmasters galore and, of course, an abundance of other titled players, comparable to the “Bundesliga” in some European countries.
Regarding the dynamics of our nice chess lives here, players transfer from one team to another all the time. Licenses are not limited to just one license per player as it used to be, so now some chess addicts participate in four or more leagues just like that. I myself play four leagues, two county, one regional and the Eastern Slovakian. Note that my rating is only around 1800 all the time. Higher-rated folks go for a match in the first league one week, take a chance in the Extraliga another, and some even play in Czech Republic, Austria etc.
Apart from the rich chess experience during the season there are tournaments held all across the calendar. Holiday you say? Bet you can find some event in tournament schedules at any given time. Everyone has a laugh, grabs a beer with fellow chess players, gets some fun chess games to boot and that’s what it’s all about, right?
Rivalries new and old
Guess what? My father brought me to chess years ago, I got better and better and now for the last three years we have been over-the-board adversaries because I “grew up” in another city’s team. Talk about dynamic! Yesteryear’s family opponent became my teammate for this season. I am my dad’s captain! He plays one board below me but he sits a board above in regional league! We got to be teammates in two leagues which foster age-long rivalry as the best city teams. Go figure.
This is the way it goes for years. Season after season you get a constant flow of new faces, mostly children (always good to see) yet veterans look forward to meeting their old buddies and breaking them on the chess board. This keeps the competitive spirit present, thus making it really pleasant to be part of this vibrant area of our lives. Every round during the season is thought of as a kind of social occasion. The atmosphere is generally friendly, people are kind to each other and intelligent conversation is surely to be had. What more can you ask for?
But let us cut to the chase on this one. What follows is a game against my father. It took place three years ago. In 2011 I was basically a rookie, with a rating hovering around 1300 or so. The only thing I knew before the game was that this dude is booked-up with theory and is capable of deep positional manoeuvring whereas my opening knowledge consists of something like this; there is the dragon, hedgehog, elephant, orangutan, pterodactyl, hippo and a rat. The whole crazy farm! Useful, right? Therefore: Opening alert! Avoid theory and play tactically. Although daddy was five hundred points above my rating I still hoped for the tactical confusion which he cannot deal with when playing against me…ever! Here goes!
Nandrazi, Artur – Nandrazi, Dominik [A09]
4D22Presov County League, University of Presov
1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Qa4+ Nc6 4.Qxc4 e5
Are you Reti for the game son?
seems unnatural to give me a free developing move. Why not play e-pawn or g3, Bg2, O-O and develop normally?
5…Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be6
Throw a punch if you can. Already looks like a comfortable position for black.
7.Qb5 Bxd2+ 8.Nbxd2 Qd5
Now if Qxb7 tactical complications would come up, so I expected him to take. [After 9.Qxb7 Rb8 10.Qa6 Rxb2 with a lead in development/superior position after Nf6 and castles soon.
Could have done much better surely. 4 queen moves in the opening. As a fan, probably inspired by Abba’s “Dancing queen”.
10.a3 f5 11.g3 Nf6 12.Bg2 0-0 13.0-0 e4 14.dxe4 fxe4 15.Ng5 Rae8
fully developed, safe, central control, pieces work in harmony- no problem.
16.e3 h6 17.Nh3 g5
trying to take as much space as possible. Very generous with free tempi that day.
18.Rfc1 Ng4 19.Rc5 Nf6
The plan is to put pressure on the f-file so after a move like b6 or a6 if needed, evicting the rook, I will be able to go back and carry out the punishment.
20.Rac1 Re6 21.Bf1 b6 22.R5c3 Rd8 23.Bb5 Ne5
after few shuffling moves I decided to go for activity over material. As mentioned above, TACTICS are the key! Crucial aspect is his knight chilling out not doing much on h3, so that way one little pawn lost does not hurt.
24.Rxc7 Nd3 25.Bxd3 exd3
Bothered, he gives me a passer. Not a good idea in chess I guess
26.Rxa7 Ne4 27.Rcc7?
We both rather stupidly thought there is a perpetual or something or maybe miscalculation was my part and desperation was his. Could have taken the free knight and after checks on g7 and f7 hide on e8. Continuation is still leaving black with a clear advantage as he retains his activity and passed d-pawn.
28.Rxc6 Bxc6 29.Nb1 d2
Position is gone. What else besides this or leaving the room immediately…
30.Nxd2 Rxd2 31.f3 Rd1+ 32.Kg2 Nd2 33.e4 g4
breaking the structure to intensify the pressure
34.fxg4 Nxe4 35.Nf4 Rd2+ 36.Kg1 Rd1+ 37.Kg2 Rd2+ 38.Kg1 Ng5 39.b4 Bg2??!!
I accidentally touched that bishop so I had to move and he went crazy, right to the arms of the king. It was an unintended touch of a piece and then I just released him like I completely lost my mind for a second. Double trouble. I just gave him my extra piece. Sweat, nervousness rushed through my head. “WHAT HAVE I DONE?!!!” but then…
40.Nxg2 Nh3+ 41.Kf1
41.Kh1 Rd1+ 42.Ne1 is disastrous as well, so pick your favourite way to lose.
41…Rf2+ 42.Ke1 Rxg2 43.Rb7 Rg1+ 44.Ke2 Rg2+ 45.Kf3
and Daddy’s dead! for after 45…Rf2+ 46.Ke4 Rf6
After few moves, he crumbled and I went pawn hunting Pokémon style- Gotta catch’em all. White resigned on move 72.
After this clash I never lost to him once, neither in friendly blitz nor in tournaments. Hope you enjoyed just as I did.
with Lee Davis
Transitions from one type of endgame to another can be tricky to calculate. This month our guest contributor Lee Davis examines a recent R&P- to -K&P ending which taxed his counting ability!
White: Evans, Nicholas (1792) Black: Davis, Lee (1967) [E14]
South Wales Autumn Open (2.3), 11.10.2014
White’s king-side activity is the correct strategy. I think at this stage both players might have been wondering just how black was going to make progress. The white rook seems to have far more scope than the black rook; but that is only a temporary problem and the weaknesses of the white queen-side pawns will be decisive.
probably not the best 33.. g6 and if 34. gxf5 Kxf5 when the win is in sight.
34. Rxg4 is best – despite the split pawns white puts up the best resistance by keeping his rook active
Black distracts the white rook and the win is a matter of counting pawn moves.
35. g5 is met by 35.. h5, whilst 35.Kb3/b4 loses to 35.. e4 followed by .. Ke5 and the black king shepherds the pawn home,… but now black can sacrifice the e pawn and win by virtue of a better king position. This requires counting the pawn moves over and over again to be absolutely sure you have counted correctly.
So: ” I go to a white square, he goes to a black square, I go to a black square, he goes to a white square, I go to a … what colour square was I on? Oh heck! start again… I go to a white square, he goes to a black square, I go to a black square, he goes to a white square …… there must be an easier way of doing this!?”
35…e4! 36.Kd4 Re5 37.Re1
37.Ke3 loses to 37…Rc5 38.Kd4 (38.Rc1 Ke5 … and it is not hard for black to find … a6 39.h5 (39.Rc2 a6 40.Rb2 (40.Rc1? b5-+) 40…Rxc4 41.Rxb6 Rxa4 42.Rg6 Ra3+ 43.Ke2 Rh3 44.h5 Kf4 45.Rxg7 a5 46.Ra7 Rh2+ 47.Ke1 Kxg4-+) 39…a6 40.Rb1 (40.Rf1 Rxc4 41.Rf7 Rxa4 42.Rxg7 Ra3+ 43.Ke2 Kf4-+) ) 38…e3 39.Re1 39.Kxe3 Rxc4 is hopeless for white 39…Re5 40.Re2 Kd6 41.h5 a6! 42.Re1 e2 and white is in zugzwang.
after 38. Re2 Kd6 and black creates the zugzwang position described earlier – but the exchange of rooks sets up the ‘better king position’ win that black saw when playing .. e4.
38…Rxe3 39.Kxe3 Ke5
Black has given up the pawn for the opposition and a won ending.
Keeping the opposition and confirming the zugzwang.
if the white king goes the other way it is even easier… 41.Kd3 Kf4 42.Kd4 Kxg4 43.Kd5 Kxh5 44.Kc6 g5 45.Kxb6 g4 46.c5 g3 47.c6 g2 and black queens with check 48.c7 g1Q+ 49.Kb7 Qc5 50.c8Q Qxc8+ 51.Kxc8 Kg4 and wins]
41…Kd4 42.Kf4 Kxc4 43.Kf5
This may have been the move white missed when he played 38.Rxe3 (and that black had to see when he played 35…e4). 43.. Kb4 would have thrown away the win and even put black in danger of losing. 43…Kb4 44.Kg6 and here 44.. b5 is black’s last chance to be sure of salvaging the draw. 44…b5 (44…Kxa4?! 45.Kxg7 Kb4 ( this is better than.. 45…b5 46.g5 b4 47.gxh6 b3 48.h7 b2 49.h8Q b1Q 50.Qe8+ Ka3 51.h6 It may be that this is drawn because white cannot escape the checks – but you really wouldn’t want to be playing this deep into the night in a weekend tournament would you? … would you? … you would !? … you know you really are a little bit obsessive about this game aren’t you?) 46.Kxh6 a4 47.g5 a3 48.g6 a2 49.g7 a1Q 50.g8Q again this is probably drawn – but not nice for black to be playing.) 45.axb5 Kxb5 46.Kxg7 a4 47.Kxh6 a3 48.g5 a2 49.g6 a1Q this is a theoretical draw – white can even give up the g pawn to get the h pawn to the 7th rank 50.Kh7 Qf6 51.h6 Qf5 52.Kh8 Qxg6 53.h7=]
44.axb5 Kxb5 45.Kg6 a4 46.Kxg7 a3 47.Kxh6 a2 48.g5 a1Q 49.Kg6
49.g6 loses to 49…Qh8+ 50.Kg5 Kc6 51.h6 Kd5 52.g7 Qh7 53.Kf6 Qxh6+ 54.Kf7 Qe6+ 55.Kf8 Qf6+ 56.Kg8 Ke6 57.Kh7 Qf7 58.Kh8 Qh5+ 59.Kg8 Kf6 60.Kf8 Qf7#]
Black now faffed about trying to get the best position before bringing his king across to the pawns before realising that … he already has the best position for bringing his king across to the pawns !
50…Qg8+ 51.Kf6 Qh7 52.g6 Qxh6 53.Kf7 Qh5 54.Kf6 Qh4+ 55.Kf7 Qf4+ 56.Kg8
now 56… Kc6 and white would have resigned
56…Qc4+ 57.Kh7 Qe4 58.Kh8 Qh4+ 59.Kg8 Kc6 at last ! 60.g7 Kd7 61.Kf7 Qh5+ 62.Kf6 Qe8 and white resigned.
Replay game in full