Sunday, 11 April 2010

A bit about Grunfeld

Time flies when you're having fun! I've had some nice things happen in my life in the past few weeks but not anything to do with chess. That somewhat slack attitude might come back and bite me as I'm off to Bangkok tomorrow to play in Thailand Open and feeling like I could have done more to prepare. But I'm not sorry about it - it's important to be happy in life and not just in chess. Thailand might prove to be more "exciting" than I expected. There is currently some political unrest going on with demonstrations that could potentially bring down the current government. To be fair, I've already seen Bangkok and don't need to get out of the hotel if the troubles continue. My real holiday will be for a few days after the tournament on the Thai island of Koh Chang - away from any revolutions. It will be interesting to see if any chess players decide to pull out of the tournament because of unrest but for now the top seed promises to be England's own GM Nigel Short.

Ok, I haven't been ignoring chess completely. I've had a look at some games of the former world champion GM Vasily Smyslov who sadly passed away a few days ago. His games seem so smooth - almost effortless. He was well known for trying to search for the ultimate "truth" and harmony when playing chess. I've also continued my training sessions with GM Chris Ward and I've played a few serious games of chess in the London League and the 4NCL. The last game in the London League was completely disastrous for me as I managed to lose a completely winning position. Not only my position was better, I was also and exchange up!   Perhaps a large dinner before the game didn't help very much as I found it difficult to think and make any decisions when I was confronted with some options. I did much better at the 4NCL gaining 1.5 out of 2 against stronger opposition.

I'd like to show you the game I won from that 4NCL weekend. It was my first serious game against Grunfeld Defence and I was well prepared. Quite fittingly, I chose to play the Russian System against Grunfeld (D36), maybe because I quite liked GM Magnus Carlsen's recent wins in that opening against GM Svidler and GM Dominguez. You can replay the game via an applet below but here is the game with my commentary.

M. Yurenok (1953) - S. Hegarty (2067)
27 March 2010, 4NCL

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3 dxc4 6. Qxc4 O-O 7. e4 c6 - I expected this. 7...c6 is described by GM Rowson in his Grunfeld book as the most passive option for black. After looking through some GM games on the database I can't say I disagree as I liked white every time. No wonder GMs Svidler and Dominguez choose to play 7...a6.

8. Qb3 Qb6 9. Bc4 Qxb3 10. Bxb3 - my preparation ended here. It's quite easy to find decent moves for white in this position while black has to do all the thinking to create counter-play. I was 40 minutes ahead on the clock at some point and finished 20 minutes ahead while my opponent got into time-trouble. It's not easy to develop black's pieces.

10... Bg4 11. Bg5 - it was worth considering 11.Ne5 because if the black bishop doesn't move I'd still get the bishop pair without doubling of my f pawns and if 11...Be6 12.Bxe6 I'd ruin black's pawn structure. However, the move that I made is also fine and threatens 11...e5 winning e7 pawn.

11... h6 12. Bf4 - Rybka doesn't quite understand that move and really wants to put the bishop on e3 but I believe the bishop on f4 is more active

12... Bxf3 - expected natural follow-up to 10... Bg4 but 10... Nbd7 was also possible

13. gxf3 Nh5?! - it's not clear what this achieves as 14... e5 isn't possible and d4 pawn is easily defended

14. Be3 Kh7 15. f4 - black pieces are still cramped and white has a nice centre

15... Nf6 16. h3 - not really necessary as losing e3 bishop for black's knight is not really a threat, so 16.e5 is a good alternative

16. h3 e6 17. O-O - another option is to castle queenside and play for an attack with f5 and Rhg1

17... Nbd7 18. e5 - I thought for a while about this move as it gives up d5 square but decided that my knight on d6 would be better than black's knight on d5. However, it was probably better to develop rooks first before fixing the pawns in the centre.

18... Nd5 19. Ne4 f6?! - this doesn't stop me from doing what I want. The better plan was to put pieces like that: Rab8, N7b6 via c8 to e7 and then to f5.

20. Nd6 fxe5 21. fxe5 Rab8 22. Bxd5 - I had to think a little here as it appears that I'm giving up my "good" bishop but I'm giving it up for the only black's active piece and neither of black's re-captures seems attractive

22... cxd5? - this was the worst of the two evils as now I can't see how black can avoid losing some material. After 22...exd5 I was planning 23. e6 Nf6 24. e7 Rg8 but I couldn't see what to do next and Rybka confirms that this doesn't achieve much for white. Instead, 23. f4 would have been a simple way to maintain an advantage. f5 may become a threat at some point, Rac1, b4 and b5 with minority attack is another threat.

23. Rac1 Rfd8 - it's hard to suggest anything better for black anyway, the rest is straightforward

24. Rc7 Nf8 25. Rfc1 a6 26. Rxb7 Rxb7 27. Nxb7 Rd7 28. Nc5 Ra7 29. Rc3 Kg8 30. Ra3 Kf7 31. Rxa6 Rc7 32. b4 Re7 33. Rd6 1:0


Alberto Santini said...

Nice Game. You outplayed positionally your opponent.

5.Qb3 in the Gruenfeld is interesting because it changes the character of the position. Black is supposed to play with initiative, putting pressure on white queen side, but now he should change plans and attitude... and it is not so easy.

24...Nf8 is a desperate defence: White can double the rooks on 7th rank with 26.Rf7, 26...Rd7 is not enough.

Maria Yurenok said...

Hi Alberto,
Yes, I agree about 5.Qb3 variation. I was never a fun of 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3, while positions that arise from 5.Qb3 definitely appeal to me much more.

Iesha said...

This is cool!

Maria Yurenok said...

Glad you like it!