Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Cap D'Agde Tournament

I recently got back from Cap d'Agde in France where I played in the Open tournament (above 2000 ELO) and watched some famous grandmasters compete for the CCAS Rapid Trophy. Among them were several famous women players: sisters Kosintsevas, Judit Polgar, Kateryna Lahno as well as famous male grandmasters. I managed to meet GM Anatoly Karpov - 12th World Champion! He didn't do very well in his quest for the Trophy. However, famous Ukranian GM Vassily Ivanchuk won the Trophy by beating American GM Hikaru Nakamura 1.5 : 0.5 in the final. I had the pleasure to watch the first game of the final in the playing theatre. I was very impressed by how Ivanchuk slowly outplayed his opponent and reached a winning same colour bishop ending. When Nakamura realised he was losing he just sat there looking at the ceiling for about 3 minutes before resigning. The position still had equal material and it must have been a bit confusing for some people in the audience why Nakamura resigned, but his pawns were weak and on the same colour as his bishop, which meant that Nakamura couldn't defend all the pawns because Ivanchuk could reach zugzwang position. Their picture before the start of the first round is on the right.

My own tournament turned out to be quite tough. Most of my opponents were more than 100 points higher rated than me. I got 3.5 points out of 9 and because I faced strong opposition I still managed to gain 9 rating points with 2122 performance! The other amusing thing was that I didn't lose any of my black games - I drew them all! I certainly wasn't playing for draws but I had to defend for a long time in four out of those five games (two of them a pawn down!) The average number of moves in my games was 48 which left me quite exhausted. And my last game was second to last to finish with 70 moves. I didn't do very well with white for some reason - I lost three of my white games and won one. I guess I wasn't in my best form as, annoyingly, I managed to lose a winning position in round 4. However, playing at Cap d'Agde proved to be a very useful learning experience. Performing well against stronger opponents gives additional confidence and provides rich, interesting games for analysis.

Here is an example from one of my games. We both had a few minutes left. I had to defend a pawn down for half of the game, but at this moment I felt that the fortune has turned even though I was still a pawn down. I had the initiative and white's pieces were suspiciously positioned. So I spent 2-3 minutes frantically looking for winning continuations but at the end had to make a move - it only guaranteed me a draw.

N. Relea (2193) - M. Yurenok (2071)
Cap d'Agde, 27th October 2010

I played:
52...Rxg4 53. Qxg4 Qf2+ 54. Kh3 Qxc2 55. Qg5+ Kh7 56. Qe7+ Kh6 57. Qf8+ Kh7 58. Qf7+ Kh6 59. Qf8+ 1/2:1/2

Can you find how I should have played to win? It's fairly simple but not obvious. I'll provide an answer in the next post.

I also had a very interesting double rook endgame which I again had to defend until the tables had turned and I could have won. It also ended up being a draw but it was a lot more complicated to find the win than in the position above. I will show that endgame to you in the next post.

The tournament itself was very well organised. It was won by 6 players on 7 points out of 9, among them English GM Mark Hebden. There were also two lower rated sections as well as blitz/rapid tournaments. Food was included in the accommodation rate and there seemed to be unlimited wine included with the meals. I didn't have a drink until after the 7th round. Perhaps I should have started drinking wine sooner as I got 1.5 points in the last 2 rounds! Starters and desserts were buffet-style and I took my opportunity to eat at least two desserts at each - lunch and dinner! J Vegetarians had a bit of a tough time, but I'm not a vegetarian. I don't speak any French and not many people there spoke English, so at times there were some communication problems but everything was successfully solved at the end. Any seasoned chess tourist certainly wouldn't be put off by lack of language skills as there are many other ways to communicate. On the negative side, the playing hall was a bit too warm for my liking. However, the great thing - there was a very nice gala dinner with champagne for everyone who was still around on the night after the last round! That's what I call a nice send-off!

The last round was in the morning. The weather was warm and sunny on that day, so in the afternoon I had a long walk along the beach and all the way into the Cap d'Agde marina (photo above - on my walk along the coast). There I had a drink and watched boats, crowds of people and their dogs from my outdoor cafe table. It was Sunday and also the Halloween with random children dressed in supposedly scary clothes. What can I say - South of France! I could easily imagine myself on one of those luxury boats!


Alberto Santini said...

I didn't see the solution: I was looking for a zugzwang after exchanging queen and rook.

The silicon friend suggested me the solution: so simple. I was wondering how to resolve this blindness. :)

Anonymous said...

instead of 52... Rxg4, 52...R-f3 53.R-g3 only move, Q-f4 wins

Maria Yurenok said...

Hi Alberto,

Yes, it's amazing how simple the solution is but it's quite hard to see the right idea! A bit annoying I didn't find it during the game, but to be fair I was losing earlier on so draw was probably a fair result.

Maria Yurenok said...

Hi Anonymous,
It's not quite right. White can play 53. Qg2 and if 53... Rf2 54. Rxg6!+ and now white is two pawns up.

Anonymous said...

54. Rxg6+ cannot be played because the Rook is pinned by the Queen on f4.

Anonymous said...

Disregard my last comment, you are right.

Maria Yurenok said...

No, you are looking one move ahead of the position that I described. Instead of 53.Rg3 (because that's not the only move) white plays 53.Qg2. If black replies 53...Rf2 pinning the white Queen, then 54.Rxg6+ because white rook was on g4 and black's queen was still on f6 not pinning the white rook. In this case black is forced to play 54...Qxg6 55.Qxf2 and white has yet another pawn in a queen endgame, winning.

Maria Yurenok said...

Ah, ok. Just got your last comment :) from 16:31. You got me worried!

Anonymous said...

52...Kh5 looks very interesting. 53.Rg5+ Qxg5 54.hxg5 Rh4. And 53.Rxf4 Qxf4+ Black trades queens, wins the h-pawn and should win the pawn endgame.

Maria Yurenok said...

Yes, that's quite correct! Not easy to see it's time to attack with the king!

Anonymous said...

As I see from your article,it was a great tournament!Next year I'll try to play there

In the round 6 you played against a friend of mine - Laurent Milesi.Was it an interesting game?

Maria Yurenok said...

Yes, I recommend the tournament - it has a great chess atmosphere about it. I didn't play well against Laurent Milesi. I didn't make an effort to think a bit more at one point (move 17) so ended up in a worse endgame which I rightfully lost. So I guess the game wasn't particularly interesting!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful view and very beautiful woman.