Friday, 19 November 2010

More From My Games

I played a few games in the past couple of weeks. First of all, I played at the first weekend of the 4NCL 2010-11 season (British team league). My team did very well as we won both matches. If we continue like this we should end up in the top half of the 1st division after 7 rounds. For the past two years we were the winners of the bottom half and felt we could do better. I did ok by drawing both of my games against similarly rated opponents, but I could have posed more problems for both of my opponents. Unfortunately, getting into the time trouble didn't help - I need to sort that out!

I also played a game for Hackney 1 team in the top division of the London League. We were outrated by our opponents Wood Green on every board (apart from the bottom borad 12 which was unrated), but somehow we managed to draw the match! Unfortunately, I lost my game against strong IM Mohamed Tissir on board 5 but not without missing some winning chances on my side. The time limit is fairly fast in the London League - 1hr 15mins for 30 moves followed by 15mins to finish and that again proved to be the deciding factor for me. With maybe a minute left on the clock I managed to miss an easy draw and a less easy win in this position - how annoying! Think about how you would have played in this position, black to move. I will provide the solution in the next post.

M. Tissir (226 ECF/2474 FIDE) - M. Yurenok (178 ECF/2071 FIDE)
Wood Green - Hackney 1
London League, 10th November 2010

There' been a lot of exciting chess going on recently with the Tal Memorial and the blitz afterwards. I'm glad that Sergey Karjakin got a share of the first prize with Levon Aronian in the main tournament. Aronian did very well to win the blitz tournament as well. I wish I had more time to watch the games - but can't do that during working hours! Currently I'm following the Russian Women's Superfinal Championship. Nadezhda Kosintseva is leading with 3.5 out of 4.

Now it's time to reveal the solution for the position published in the last post. Some of you might have noticed that the correct solution was already suggested in the comments to the last post. So here is the position again:

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

I should have played:

52...Kh5! - it's not easy to let go of conventions and see that attacking with the king wins here even with queens and rooks present! White has two options:

53. Rg5+ Qxg5! 54. hxg5+ Rh4 55. Qxh4 Kxh4 and this pawn endgame is winning for black because white can't do anything with his extra pawn on the queenside. For example: 56. Kg2 Kxg5 57. Kg3 Kh5 58. Kh3 g5 59. Kg3 g4 60. Kg2 Kh4 61. b4 g3 62. Kg1 Kh3 63. Kh1 g2+ 64. Kg1 Kg3 65. c3 dxc3 and black checkmates in two.


53. Rxf4 Qxf4+ 54. Kg2 (or 54. Kg1 Qg4+) Qxh4 55. Qf3+ Qg4+ and white can't avoid exchange of queens leading again to the won pawn ending for black.

I also promised to show you an interesting double rook endgame  from another one of my games in Cap d'Agde. I know a lot of people think that endgames are boring, but double rook endgames are notoriously complex. This example is no exception, besides I think it's quite entertaining as both sides are trying to queen their pawns. Have a look at this position, black to move:

S. Pham Guerrero (2199) - M. Yurenok (2071)
Cap d'Agde, 29th October 2010

Earlier on white's endgame was quite a bit better, but he was probably trying to win too hard and allowed me to have substantial counterplay on the kingside. Here I played 42...Re3! White thought for quite a while as I guess he realised that he was now in trouble and he responded with the only move 43. b6 But even after this move black is winning. Try to find black's next move and the supporting variations leading to a win. I suggest you analyse it with the board as there are several rather complicated variations, but if you can calculate it all in your head - well done! I wasn't able to find the correct continuation and only drew the game. I hope you'll enjoy analysing this and I'll tell you what should have happened in my game in my next post.

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!