Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Italian Chess Festival "City of Roseto"

Can you believe it, this chess adventure turned out to be even more successful for me than the one in Thailand. I played in the Masters section which was reserved for players above 2000 rating but they let myself and another girl in as an exception, even though we were just below 2000 rating. They probably think that they made the right decision as I got 5 points out of 9, gained my first WIM norm with a round to spare and drew with a GM for the first time! My rating performance was 2311 against the average opposition of 2268 which included two GMs, two IMs and an FM, gaining me 47 rating points. You can see the final rankings table here which shows that overall I came 14th despite being seeded second from the bottom (37th) at the beginning of the tournament. I didn't get a cash prize despite being the best performer in under 2200 rating section because rating prizes were reserved exclusively for Italians. However, I was given a big 2kg Italian cheese which tastes fantastic! I was also the best woman performer. Apart from all that I got to play against the legendary GM Evgeny Sveshnikov who originally came from Chelyabinsk in Russia (like myself) but now lives in Latvia. Long time ago back in Russia I even attended his 2-week chess school once, when it had a joint session with GM Panchenko's school. He's best known for his theoretical developments in the Sveshnikov Sicilian and in the c3 Sicilian. Here is a photo of me with the GM Evgeny Sveshnikov J

The tournament itself was very well organised. I thought it was great that in the Masters section most boards were electronic, transmitting games live on the internet. I also really enjoyed living very close to the sea, near a very nice and shallow sandy beach with beautifully clean water. Even though the weather was up to 30 degrees Celsius on some days the water was quite a bit colder than in Thailand, but once you got in - it was very enjoyable. You only had to walk a few minutes along the beach to reach an area with no one around. It was also quite easy to get to the resort as there were direct flights from London Stanstead to Pescara with Ryanair, and the resort had a complimentary pick up/drop off service for the airport. It was also great to have a kitchen in our small bungalow and a shop nearby, which meant that I could get up late and make my own breakfast and lunch whenever I wanted! Of course, there was a restaurant as well which we used for dinner. I think I would recommend this resort especially for chess playing families as there seemed to be a lot of things to do for children. Hiring a car would give a lot of additional options to explore beautiful countryside with mountains and national parks nearby.

Now, more detail about my performance at the tournament. The time control was 1.5 hours for 40 moves plus 30 minutes to finish, with 30 seconds added after each move. I was white in the first round against an Italian FM Carlo Barlocco rated 2156. I couldn't prepare for the first round as there wasn't enough time after the pairings came out. However, I was lucky to get a Nimzo-Indian position which I discussed with my coach GM Chris Ward only three days before. After playing quite well I got into a bit of time trouble at which point my opponent who had about half an hour more decided to trap his own queen. I didn't mind that at all as it netted me a knight and I won soon after!

In the second round I was again playing white against one of three girls in the tournament - Maya Porat from Israel rated 2182. My preparation paid off this time as I got the position I was looking for against the Benoni Defence. In fact this was probably my best game as I thought it flowed very nicely from the beginning to the end netting me a point. I will aim to publish an analysis of this game in my next post.

In the third game I was black against a young Italian IM Axel Rombaldoni rated 2436. We went down a long theoretical line in the Taimanov Sicilian. My opponent was clearly under pressure to win and sacked a pawn for not enough compensation. However, the position was far from straightforward and I got lost in complications losing a point. Later, GM Sveshnikov told me I should have won that game. Even though I never had a decisive advantage it was enough to pose serious problems for white.

In the fourth game I was white against a Phillipino IM Virgilio Vuelban rated 2369. This felt like it was my worst game as I didn't play that well in the opening and made positional mistakes in the middlegame. I eventually lost this game after giving up too many pawns for an attack.

After losing to two IMs in the previous rounds I was surprisingly paired with the Latvian GM Evgeny Sveshnikov in the fifth round, rated 2493. He didn't have a very good start to the tournament which gave me this chance of a lifetime to play against him. It was quite funny as he prepared to play with black while he didn't realise he had to play white. It wasn't important at the end as he won by playing e4, c3 variation against my Sicilian. He's made a lot of theoretical developments in this variation and probably knows it better than anyone in the world. I could have played something completely other than the Sicilian but I thought it was a great opportunity to learn something useful from this opening's expert himself. I got some very useful insights including his analysis of a certain position that could have occurred and which he analysed when he was GM Karpov's assistant for his second match against GM Kasparov. All this would make me better prepared next time I face c3 Sicilian.

In the sixth round I had black against an Italian player Amilcare Lauria rated 2116. After a complicated game in the Hedgehog I emerged better off after the first time control. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to convert my advantage after my opponent correctly sacrificed an exchange for a pawn and the game was drawn.

In the seventh round I had white against the tournament's organiser and an Italian player Nicola Pienabarca rated 2097. My opponent surprised me with the Albin Counter-Gambit but I managed to figure it out over the board even though previously it has only occurred in my blitz games. I got a better endgame and my two bishops advantage brought me a point in the end. It was a very important game to win to continue having a chance of a WIM norm. I still needed to be paired with another titled player to get the norm, while those titled players (GMs, IMs, FMs) tended to hang around the top of the tournament table!

In the eighth round I had black against a German player Claus Seyfried rated 2087. This was yet another Taimanov Sicilian for me which gave me a slightly better endgame. I was very happy with how I played the endgame preventing my opponent's plan. In the end my opponent got into time trouble, got himself into a cramped position and made a decisive mistake. Again, this was a very important game to win to have a chance of a WIM norm.

In the final round I was paired with the Russian GM Igor Naumkin rated 2480 (there's a photo of me above during the game). This meant that I achieved my WIM norm already and could just enjoy a rare opportunity to play a GM. I had white and my opponent played the Classical Dutch which I expected. I played very well in a prophylactic way preventing my opponent's plan and got a better position. I chose to force a draw but was told by my coach GM Chris Ward and by my boyfriend IM Simon Ansell that I should have tried to win. I'm looking forward to my training session with Chris next Tuesday to get a deeper understanding and analysis of the position.

Now I'm back to England taking it easy for a few days before getting back to chess training. Tournaments like this are quite tiring but this time I felt more relaxed during the tournament. That's probably because I feel that I'm making much better moves than before (Rybka and Chris agree J) and have much more confidence when playing strong titled players. Finally, you can have a look at my WIM norm certificate on the right. It has a couple of small errors (like place of birth and number of titled players) which will be corrected by the tournament Arbiter before he submits it to the FIDE.

When I originally published this post I completely forgot to mention that the tournament was won by the ex-Soviet chess legend GM Oleg Romanishin from Ukraine. He got 7 points, half a point ahead of the top seed GM Vladimir Epishin from Russia and IM Misa Pap from Serbia.


Alberto Santini said...

Congrats for your norm and awesome tourney!!!

It seems you played very interesting games: I am curious about Benoni and Albin games. :)

Maria Yurenok said...

Thanks Alberto! I'll certainly publish the Benoni game very soon. Albin game was also good so maybe I'll publish it sometime later although my last two games are also worth publishing. It's nice to have so many good games to choose from :)

Anonymous said...


Well done. Does that mean you are a WIM now?

Have you achieved more than you thought you would at the outset?

Nice legs as well (hey come on guys you were all thinking it :D )


Anonymous said...

well done maria...i enjoy your blog as not too many tell of their chess adventures...simon williams' blog is good and mickey adams has started one. I like the pics and the fact that you bring news of foreign tournaments. best wishes, Kevin Winter, Bingley

Maria Yurenok said...

Thanks Rob.

No, I'm not a WIM yet. I need to get two more WIM norms and reach a rating of 2200 - so still a lot of work to do! I haven't quite achieved what I set out as I'd like to get into the women's England team. I didn't get into the team this year but hoping to do better next year. Despite that, getting a WIM norm is definitely a special achievement for me.


Maria Yurenok said...

Thanks Kevin. I'm glad you enjoy my blog and I hope to continue with it even when I go back to work in August, since I will still be playing chess although not as much as at present.

Anonymous said...

Hi Maria, I have been following your blog since last year, but not commented before. Really inspired by your journey! Also very happy for you that you have had two strong performances in tourneys: Thailand and this one. Bit confused as to why you aren't in the England Squad now?? You have shown huge commitment AND got the results! What more do you need to do?! Best wishes. Please continue the blog if you can. Colin

Maria Yurenok said...

Thanks very much Colin.

Unfortunately the selection was made in May and it was based mainly on published rating. My rating will go up in the July list but in May it was the lowest compared to the other girls being considered for the selection. The other criteria considered was an average rating performance from July 1 last year until May. My average performance wasn't that good as I started off that year with bad results while I was in the process of improving. However, my last 3 results (Thailand, 4NCL and Italy) have been higher than the England's selected bottom 3 boards showed for a long time. My Italian result was even higher than recent results of the 2nd board. I was just a bit too late to show that Thailand and 4NCL were not a fluke!

I will continue playing and hope to get into the team next year. And I will continue writing about my adventures.

Best wishes,