Sunday, 30 October 2011

About the British

As I said in the last post, I was going to play in the 4NCL rapidplay. I found 10min +10sec increment after each move to be closer to blitz than rapidplay and quite difficult, while the previously reported Golders Green rapidplay had 30 mins for the whole game that I preferred. I perform worst with very short time limits. Nevertheless, it was fun with the team event on the Saturday (I played for Hackney on board 4 of 4) and the individual event on the Sunday. I had some peculiar moments happen to me like not capturing a piece that I attacked with a pawn a move before (I had about 2 mins left so not really short of time!) and also accidentally grabbing the wrong piece in the opening (queen instead of bishop next to it!).

Now let me tell you about my performance at the British Championship that was held in Sheffield at the end of July/beginning of August. I qualified for it two years ago through my rating performance at the 4NCL, but as I wasn't able to play last year I carried my place over to this year. I'd never played in the British before and I really enjoyed my first time there. It's a shame it takes whole two weeks from my holiday allowance at work, so it's not something I can do every year.

Sheffield isn't quite the summer holiday destination but from chess point of view it suited me very well. In the past, I'd spent quite a lot of time in Sheffield for my work, so I knew my way around a bit. My tournament started rather badly as I lost my first two games, but I didn't get too worried as it was an 11 round tournament and I didn't think I was playing badly. In the following 5 games I got 4 points, including a win against IM Susan Lalic, a draw against my 4NCL team mate FM Laurence Webb and a draw against another strong FM David Eggleston. I got stopped by another one of my 4NCL team mates IM Adam Hunt before finishing with 1.5 in the last 3 games. So the end result of 50% and 2208 performance got me some rating points, but it would have been even better if I got another WIM norm. I had to win in either of my last two games to achieve it and was very close to it in both games, but ended up only getting 1/2 out of the last 2 games. I have qualified for the next year's British Championship through this performance, but it clashes with London 2012 Olympics in my home city!

Anyway, here are some interesting moments form my games. I was nicely surprised to hear that this puzzle from my game was published in the Daily Telegraph - the national newspaper in the UK. White to move. This one took me seconds to find, so I hope you can see it too.

M. Yurenok (2090) - S. Lalic (2277)
The British Championship, 30th July 2011

As I had plenty of time, I spent a little while checking that the move that I saw actually worked. I found no refutation, so I played:

25.Be5! the queen is overloaded so I win an exchange 25...Qxe5 26. Rxc6 Rb2? this just makes things easier for me as I can now force exchange of queens 27. Qc3 Qxc3 28. Rxc3 +- and I eventually won with the extra material.

The next diagram is from my game against a strong blind player Chris Ross. I've never played against blind players before and found it quite amazing that my opponent was playing as well as me while I can see the board and he can't. I was better for much of the game but at the end couldn't close it off. I had an immediate win in the following position, which I didn't notice possibly due to being in time-trouble. If I won this game, I would have almost certainly got a WIM norm because I would have been paired with a very strong opponent the next day making my final game result irrelevant. Can you find the white's move that I didn't?

M. Yurenok (2090) - C. Ross (2234)
The British Championship, 4th August 2011

I played 33. Bb6? losing all my advantage and the game soon ended in a draw. The correct move was:

33. Bd6! (33.Bd4 also works with the same idea) on the one hand it's a discovered attack of the white rook on the c7 knight, while on the other hand it's interference between the black queen and the rook

33...Qxd6 (33...Rxd6 34. Rxc7 +- winning the queen for a rook)

34.Rxc7+ Kg6 (34...Ke6 35. Rc6 +-winning the queen for a rook again)

35. Rxg7+ Kf5 36. Qc8+ Ke4 (36...Qe6 37. g4+ winning) 37. Rg4+ Kd5 38. Qc4 #

And finally, here is the position from my last game in the tournament. To get a WIM norm I had to win this game with black against young and progressing FM opponent from Ireland. I managed to complicate things considerably in the middlegame, which caused both of us to be in significant time trouble in the very complicated endgame with queens and bishops, below. I'm two pawns down but have sufficient compensation due to white's b2 bishop being out of play while his king's position is rather open. My king isn't particularly safe either, but I'm the first to attack, black to move.

RR. Griffiths (2301) - M. Yurenok (2090)
The British Championship, 5th August, 2011

Objectively, this position is actually a draw. I went astray and lost it in a few moves. However, if I played:

33...Qe1! this would have left my opponent with finding the only move to save his game while his seconds were ticking down. Not an easy task, especially since white's only move isn't that obvious at all. During after-game analysis both of us couldn't find an adequate reply for white until one of the observers pointed it out. Black's idea is to play Be3-f4 manoeuvre, winning if white doesn't do anything special. The only move for white to save the game is:

34.Qh1! and black has nothing better than to repeat the moves with 34...Qd2+ 35. Qg2 Qe1 =

You can check for yourself that with correct play for black none of the other moves work for white apart from 34. Qh1. There is a number of variations to consider and, of course, they are not easy to play correctly for black especially in time trouble. One example variation goes like this:

34. a4 Be3 35. h4 Bf4+ 36. Kh3 Bg6! (seemingly the only winning move) 37. Bf3 Bd3! 38. Be2 Be4 39. Bf3 Qe3! 40. Bc1 Bxf3 41. Bxe3 Bxg2+ 42. Kxg2 Bxe3 -+

Anyhow, the original position is very interesting for analysis!

Now I'm off to the European Team Championship in Greece on Wednesday. Wish me luck!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

More Results and Tactics

Lets go through a few more of my tournaments and results over the past few months. My performance at the 4NCL in 2010-11 season wasn't very good and I lost a few points of rating but my team at last managed to get into the Championship pool after 7 rounds in the top division. This meant that we had a theoretical possibility of winning the top division, but ended up with a much more realistic and still very good for us 5th place, which was above teams like Barbican 1 and Guildford ADC 1. The top division was won by my former team Pride & Prejudice who had GM Michael Adams on board one. 2011-12 4NCL season will start soon but during the first weekend of the tournament I will be away playing in the European Team Championship. My 4NCL team had a change of sponsor and is now called Blackthorne Russia after the name of the company which transports goods to Russia. So far I think I'm the only real Russian person registered for the team :)

In June I played in the round-robin IM-norm (not WIM!) tournament called 2nd Big Slick International, which was held at a Poker Club near London. The photo from the tournament is above, taken by my favourite chess photographer Ray Morris-Hill. As you can imagine, the tournament with two GMs in the field was quite strong for me. I lost a little rating but really enjoyed the tournament. I find it very interesting playing against stronger players. I'm sure I learnt a lot from the tournament as I did rather well in the one after that. I had a couple of interesting tactical moments in my games at Big Slick which I want to share with you.

It's black's move, what would you do? My opponent resigned but was there a better alternative? The answer is below the diagram. I was surprised to find this position published by a couple of websites like and I guess the solution is sufficiently unusual!

M. Yurenok (2100) - S. Blackburn (1944)
2nd Big Slick International (IM), 26th June 2011

It looks like black is in deep trouble. I'm currently threatening to win the rook on e8. Black can't take on e6 because of white's Qxe6 checkmate; black can't move her rook away because of white's Re7+ winning the black queen. And if black plays Qd8 then white's Qh5+ is winning either the rook on e8 or checkmating. However, black has the unexpected:

25...Bd1! 26. Qe3 the bishop is untouchable because the rook on e6 needs protection. White also no longer has an annoying check on h5 as black bishop protects that square! White's position is still a little better because white has the better bishop, but it would take a long time to grind this one down.

Here is another interesting position but a solution is a lot simpler to see in my opinion. What move would you make for white? The solution is below the diagram.

M. Yurenok (2100) - B. Eames (2259)
2nd Big Slick International (IM), 1st July 2011

Unfortunately for me, I had only about 5 seconds left and I thought I still had to make the 40th move before the flag dropped. As it turned out, I didn't need to panic as I'd already made 40 moves and could relax and think for a few minutes if I wanted to. Nevertheless, it's probably better making one extra move than dropping the flag and finding out that you haven't made enough moves like GM Nakamura the other day at Bilbao Masters tournament. I played 41. Rxa5? Kf6! and the game ended as a draw after a few moves. There were several winning moves, but the best was:

41.Rxe3! fxe3 42. Ra8 and black can resign as he will lose the rook 42...Rxh7 43. Ra7+

In the next post I'll talk you through my performance at the British Championship in July/August, which worked out very well for me. I'd like to report my latest result to finish this post off. Last weekend I played in the Golders Green Rapidplay which was my first rapidplay in a year. I managed to do rather well and got a rating prize in the top section. I even drew with the well-known IM James Serwin. This fills me with some confidence for the forthcoming 4NCL team and individual rapidplay this weekend.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Back to Blogging!

I think you may be wondering what happened to me as my blog hasn't been updated in a long time. I have some excuses like too much work and other important things, but that's probably not good enough! So I'm back to writing and the important thing is that I have played quite a lot of chess this year and I have a lot to write about.

First of all, I have to share some very good news with you - I have been selected to play for the England women's team in the European Team Championship in Greece in November! I'll be on board 3 with the full team as follows:

IM Jovanka Houska - 2427
IM Dagne Ciuksyte - 2327
WFM Maria Yurenok - 2106
WFM Kanwal Bhatia - 2087
WFM Sarah Hegarty - 2051

It will be my first tournament playing for the England team and it will be tough, so I have started preparing.

Now back to what I've been doing over the past months. I have to take you back as far as February when I played in Italy in the Cento Open. I did fairly well, gained a bit of rating and even got a small rating prize. I was also close to getting WIM norm - I just had to win in the last round for that. Unfortunately I lost, mainly because of my bad clock handling. The last round was quite early in the morning unlike all other rounds, so I think I wasn't awake enough! I don't like early mornings!! The other interesting thing was that in the first round I was paired against the legend of the Soviet Chess School - GM Oleg Romanishin. I lost but we were one of the last games to finish. It's a bit unfortunate that because the game was so long, there was no time or energy to analyse the game with Oleg - we had to rush to dinner which had already started!

Now lets have a look at some interesting moments from my games in that tournament. Can you find the winning move that I played (white to move)? The solution is below the diagram.

M. Yurenok (2092) - S. Lagrotteria (2183)
Cento Open, 12th February 2011

I didn't have much time left but I noticed the right move, I played:

28.Rxb4! using the weakness of the black's king. E.g. 28...Rxb4 29.Qxb4 Rxb4 30.Ra8+ and checkmate two moves later.

This surprised my opponent and he started thinking, so I started thinking too, to double-check if I missed anything. To my horror I realised that things were not as simple as they seemed. I noticed that instead of 29...Rxb4 black can play 29...Qc7! and now the problem is that it's my own king who's in trouble. So if I move my queen to defend the back rank 30.Qe1, then black can just take my rook 30...Qxa5 31.Qxa5 Rb1+ and checkmate the next move. Oh dear! While I was contemplating that I might have to give up my queen for the black rook via something like 30.Qxb8 my opponent played a different 29th move and I won with an extra piece. But I shouldn't have worried anyway, because white still wins after 29...Qc7 with a clever 30. Nd7!! (30.Nb7 is also good) and black loses again because of back rank problems.

Did you see the whole variation all the way to the end? Sometimes it's easy to see the first move but it must be checked thoroughly to the end if you don't want to end up in trouble. Correct calculation to the end is hard, and that's often where stronger players outplay their opponents. Here is my photo at the beginning of that game.

The next one is an endgame which I saw coming in advance and thought was winning. What do you think? It's white's move.

M. Yurenok (2092) - E. Burani (1874)
Cento Open, 6th February 2011

After the game I asked my IM partner Simon Ansell about his assessment of this endgame. He thought it should be winning for white. During my game, more I thought - more I realised that this endgame is drawn! It's hard to believe, but white king cannot easily get around black's king to get the h pawn. As long as black king stays in the centre covering squares f4 and e3 depending on the position of white's king (because that's one of the squares white king wants to get to), then black is doing well. The game continued:

52.Kf2 Kf4 53.Bg5+ Ke4 54.Ke2 Kd4 55.Bf4 Ke4 56.Be3 Kf5 this is the position I was aiming for, but having reached it I realised that it's drawn anyway. My idea was to play 57.Kd3 here, but after some calculation I realised that black will force a draw by: 57...g3 58.Ke2 Kg4 59.Bg5 Kh3 60.Kf1 g2+ 61.Kg1 Kg3 =  There's nothing white can do to improve the position! My opponent didn't have much time left, so I decided to play some other moves before committing myself into the forced drawing variation. The game continued:

57. Bh6 Ke4 58.Kf2 Kd3 59.Kg3 Ke4 60.Bc1 Kd3?? (My lucky day! My opponent must have seen a ghost.) 61.Kf4 Ke2 62.Ba3 1:0  So it's worth playing on in drawn positions if you are putting your opponent under pressure to defend correctly.

On the last day of the tournament there was a carnival in Cento, but I missed that and instead went to Bologna where I got stuck in a taxi on the way to the hotel because there was anti-Berlusconi demonstration in the centre! Apart from that Bolgona turned out to be a very nice city with wonderful food. I even went to a great cooking class there.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

News Flash!

Hi everyone and apologies for not updating the blog for a few months.

It's been a difficult few months with work and health combined, but it's all looking good now. Since my last blog post I have played some chess in Italy, 4NCL and the London League as well! I will write a more detailed report on this over the weekend as I have to play some more chess this evening in the London League. The good news is that my rating has been 2100 for a couple of months now - a gain of almost 150 points compared to the rating list in March last year. And I have some chess plans for the summer which I will tell you about later.

One other exciting piece of news brought to me by my friend WFM Meri Grigoryan is that I've been nominated for the ECF Player of the Year 2011 by the English Chess Federation! It's was quite unexpected and very nice at the same time. I'm up against some very famous and strong chess players. If you wish to vote - you can go here:

Of course, if choose to vote for me - I'd be very happy!