Tuesday, 17 January 2012

January 4 NCL

I played at the 4NCL last weekend, for the first time this season. I had to miss the first weekend (two rounds) of the season due to the European Team Championship in November. I think I've already mentioned that my team has been re-named from Betsson.com to Blackthorne Russia because our new sponsor is the company called Blackthorne which specialises in exports to Russia. We even got our sponsor's t-shirts to wear, but I found out that my "small" size t-shirt was way too big for me, probably 4 sizes too big. In fact, it fitted my partner IM Simon Ansell rather perfectly, and he normally wears "medium" size t-shirts. I decided to stick with wearing my own clothes. Although it did cross my mind that I could possibly get away with wearing the t-shirt as a short dress, since it wasn't just big in the shoulders but also quite long!

So, what about the results? Simon and I did rather well, each gaining 1.5 out of 2. But our team narrowly lost both matches 3.5-4.5. This means that it would be near impossible for us to get into the championship pool after 7 rounds and instead we'd have to fight off relegation in the relegation pool. To get into the championship pool we'd probably have to win 3 remaining matches and in one of them we'd have to beat Wood Green who are currently top of our pool and very strong. In the 4th round they fielded GMs on all boards beating their main rival Guildford 1 in the process by 5.5-2.5. Here I am playing against John Sugden rated 2180 last Sunday.

Although I had a nice win on the Sunday, it was more of a technical win with a pawn up rather than something exciting to show. Instead, I'd like to show you how I managed to miss a clear win in my recent London League game when I was playing for Hackney 1 against Drunken Knights 2. I got into time trouble again! This was partly because I was trying to remember the theory in the gambit that my opponent played and partly because I was out of practice. In any case, it seems that this game served me well as I handled my clock rather well over the 4NCL weekend. White to move.

M. Yurenok (ECF 179) - G. Leyton (ECF 167)
London League, 9th January 2012

My opponent has just moved his queen from e7 to e8 which was a mistake. He should have played Bd6 instead. At this point I still had to make 9 moves to the time control while I had maybe 1 or 2 minutes left without increment. I was in desperate time trouble but managed to find the right move:

21. Rxc7! my idea was that if black plays 21...Kxc7 then I win some material with 22. Qc2+ Kb8 23. Bd6+ Ka8 24. Bxe5 +- and there are still more threats as f6 knight is pinned and hanging. It seems I didn't notice that I can actually deliver a typical checkmate in this variation with 24. Nb6+ axb6 25. Qa4# I guess this is not too important if I'm clearly winning anyway. And in any case, black didn't have to retreat with the king on the 22nd move, but could give up the same piece differently with 22...Nc6 avoiding the checkmate. So, my opponent played:

21...Bxb5 I expected this move as I mistakenly thought it was the best reply, so I pre-planned my answer worrying that my flag might fall before I can make it to 30 moves. I immediately replied with:

22. Rxb7? =/+ this gives up all of my advantage. When you're short of time, simple and obvious moves are missed. I didn't think of moving my rook the other way, now that the bishop has left d7. The correct move was 22. Re7 At this point my computer announces +8 winning advantage for white. Oh dear :( Black can respond with 22...Bxa4 attacking my queen in return, and here the simplest for white is just 23. Rxe8 Bxd1 24. Rxh8 Rxh8 25. Rxd1 emerging with a clear piece up. My game eventually ended in a draw and my team lost 5-7. Strange that we beat the stronger Drunken Knights 1 team with 9-3 score earlier in the season!

For the past couple of days I've been following some of the Tata Steel Chess live tournament games on their website and I discovered something. They have Houdini engine giving evaluation of every move made, and it seems that even grandmasters sometimes go passed +8 advantage! Ok, not super-grandmasters but still strong players. For example, look at the GM Brandenburg - IM Grover game from round 3 in group C, which ended in a draw and where each opponent had +8 advantage at some point according to Houdini! I don't feel so bad after all :) There are lots of serious mistakes in other games too which can be fun to watch, but then anyone is clever with the help of a computer. I actually prefer listening to commentary by strong players who don't use computers, like they had in the World Cup with GM Shipov for example.


Anonymous said...

Hi Maria, enjoyed the update and chess nuggets as usual. Sorry to hear about the t-shirt. That sweater looks comfy anyway :)

Hope you have a wonderful time at Gibraltar!

Maria Yurenok said...

Hi. Thanks! And I'm glad you like the chess nuggets.

jello said...

"I actually prefer listening to commentary by strong players who don't use computers, like they had in the World Cup with GM Shipov for example."

Was please to see that this was the method used by Simon Williams, in his interesting and at times very entertaining live coverage of the rounds at Gibraltar. Your likely already aware but, for anyone who isn't you can replay the coverage of all the rounds and the Master Class's here: http://www.gibraltarchesscongress.com/videos.htm

Speaking of Gibraltar, I hope we'll have a tournament report soon and that you took your new camera :D

Maria Yurenok said...

Hi jello,
Yes, Simon W was very good as the commentator and there were plenty of exciting games for him to analyse. I did take my new camera, so maybe I should do a photo report!