Tuesday 21 December 2010

London Chess Classic Tournaments

It's nearly Christmas time, so Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it! Even after years of living in England I'm still not that excited about Christmas, I don't even like all the fuss in the shops and on TV in the run-up to Christmas. However I like to have a few days off work and nice food and drink on the day! I'm also not against receiving nice presents :)

Back to chess then. London Chess Classic finished last week and, amazingly, Magnus Carlsen won the main tournament outright despite losing two games and gaining the same number of points (4.5) as Vishy Anand and Luke McShane under the usual points scoring system! Unfortunately for Vishy and Luke, London Classic used the football scoring system of 1 point for a draw and 3 points for a win. I think it's quite disappointing especially for Luke who had the best result of his chess career as in reality he shared the first place with Vishy - the World Champion and Magnus - the second rated guy in the world (whom he beat)! Nevertheless, I congratulate Luke on this fantastic achievement and wish him more of the same kind of success to come. I was lucky enough to see some of the post-game analysis presented by the players and, as usual, Nigel Short provided the most entertainment despite having a disappointing tournament. Anyway, I hope that the London Chess Classic organisers would change the scoring system back to traditional next year as it's hard to see any advantages of the football scoring system in a short tournament of 7 rounds like this.

Same as last year, Ray Morris-Hill took many nice photos of the participants in all tournaments of the London Classic. Here is the favourite one of me :) You can see more photos on his website.

The London Classic FIDE Open was won by two English grandmasters Simon Williams and Gawain Jones (7.5 points out of 9) while Women's IM norm round-robin tournament was won by WIM Arlette Van Weersel (8 points out of 9) and I congratulate all of them on their great success. English WFM Sarah Hegarty narrowly missed achieving WIM norm as she needed to win in the last round, but it was still a great result and experience for her.

I did quite well in the FIDE Open, gaining 4.5 points out of 9 and gaining about 12 rating points. I got to play against GM Aaron Summerscale and IM Gary Quillan and drew against Gary on a white side of a complicated Benoni game. I haven't analysed my games in detail yet, but will do a bit more next week to see if there is anything interesting worth publishing. It's nice to end the year on the high note, as by the end of this year I managed to gain 139 rating points from my lowest rating point of 1953 in March this year! I plan to continue working on improving my chess and now aim to get to 2150 rating as soon as I can.

Finally, there are two interesting chess tournaments currently in progress. Women's World Championship final is against two Chinese players Hou Yifan and Ruan Lufei. Hou Yifan is leading 1.5:0.5 after two games with two games to go. While I expected Hou Yifan to do well, Ruan Lufei was a surprise finalist even to herself as it seems from her interviews. The other interesting tournament is the Russian Men's Superfinal where Sergey Karjakin is leading with one round to go. I'm hoping that Hou Yifan and Sergey Karjakin win their respective tournaments and I will enjoy watching the last few games.

Monday 6 December 2010

News and Solutions

Well, the Russian Women's Superfinal Championship was won by IM Alisa Galliamova for the second year running. She won on tie-break after finishing equal first with WGM Natalia Pogonina and GM Tatiana Kosintseva. That's a very impressive result as the championship was very strong, including GM Alexandra Kosteniuk and IM Nadezhda Kosintseva among the other top players. Now, of course, all eyes are focused on the Women's World Championship in Turkey where Alexandra Kosteniuk will be defending her title. The tournament is held as a knock-out format which sometimes produces unexpected results. England is represented by IM Jovanka Houska and I wish her all the best. Jovanka is already through to the second round (her first round opponent had problems with travel due to bad weather) where she'll meet the top seed GM Humpy Koneru.

I was asked who is my favourite to win the Women's World Championship. I think top seeds are fairly evenly matched and it's quite hard to pick the eventual winner especially in the knock-out format where just one mistake could mean that you're out. I think that GM Hou Yifan will do very well and may even win the title. However, I'm supporting Tatiana Kosinteva and hope she'd get through to the final. I think it will be very hard for Alexandra Kosteniuk to keep the title but she has an amazing fighting spirit, so never know what may happen! Of course, there is a number of other very strong players who have a very good chance of winning the title, probably anyone from GM Viktoria Cmilyte and higher. I'm sure that the abundance of very strong players will make the whole event very exciting.

Now, lets see how I should have played in the two positions I presented in the last post.

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

The simple move that led to a draw was:
42...Qf6 43. Nxa7 (43. Kg1 Rxa6 -+) Rf1+ 44. Rxf1 Qxf1+ 45. Kh2 Qf4+ with the perpetual check.

However, I could have won with a lot more effort by:
42...Rxa6! leaving the Rook and the Queen an prise 43. Nxe7 is the best defense (43. Rxa6 Rf1+ 44. Kh2 Qg5 45. Rxg6 fxg6 46. Qd7+ Kh6 47. Qg4 Qf6 -+ and it's not possible to defend against the threat of 48...Qf2 and 49...Qg1# without serious material losses) 43...Rxa1+ 44. Kh2 Rff1 (threatening 45... Rh1#) 45. Qxe5+ f6 46. Qxa1 Rxa1 and it's a won endgame for black because white king is very passive, although admittedly black has to be a little careful and patient.

Example continuation could be 47. d4 Kf7 48. Nd5 Rd1 49. Nb6 Ke7 (not 49...Rxd4?? 50. c6 +-) 50. d5 Rc1 51. c6 Kd6 52. Nc8+ Kxd5 53. Ne7+ Kd6 54. Nxg6 Rc4 -+ and while there is still work to do, it's now more straightforward to finish the game so I won't go as far as the end here.

Lets have a look at the complicated double rook ending again:

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

As I mentioned before, I played 42... Re3! The idea was that white can't take on e3 as in order to stop g pawn from queening white would have to give up too many of his own pawns. White correctly replied 43. b6 and now I played:

43...Rc8?! which only leads to a draw 44. b7 (only move) Rb8 45. Rxc6 Rxb7?! (46...Rxe5 was more accurate but I miscalculated it) 46. Rcxe6+ Kf7 47. Rxe3 dxe3 48. Rxe3 Re7! (the pawn endgame is luckily drawn because of black's g pawn) 49. Rg3 Ke6 50. Re3+ there's nothing better for white to do as otherwise black's king becomes active and it will attack white's weak pawns 1/2:1/2

However, I could have won this game by continuing:
43...axb6! 44. cxb6 Rb7 (44...Rc8 also wins now) 45. a5 (45. Ra8 Rxb6 46. a5 Rb4 47. Rxe3 dxe3 48. a6 Ra4 49. a7 Kg7 50. Kb3 Ra1 51. Re8 Rxa7 52. Rxe6 Ra1 53. Rxe3 Kf6 54. Kc4 Rf1 55. Kc5 Rxf4 56. Kxc6 Rf3 -+) 45...g3 ( 43...Rb8 also wins) 46. Ra8 g2 47. Rg8 Rg7 48. Rxg7 Kxg7 49. b7 g1Q 50. b8Q Qf2+ 51. Kc1 Re1+ 52. Rxe1 Qxe1+ 53. Kc2 Qc3+ 54. Kd1 Qxd3+ 55. Ke1 Qc3+ 56. Kf2 Qxa5 -+ it's a winning endgame for black even though there's still some work to do. To keep this simple, I didn't show many sideline variations which kept me entertained for quite a while with their complexities! But you are welcome to ask questions if something is unclear.

My next tournament is the London Classic Open which starts on Wednesday, 8th December. Same as last year, there will also be a closed WIM tournament but I decided to try my luck in the Open this time. Of course, the main attraction of the London Classic will be the super-grandmasters tournament, which this year will include the World Champion Anand as well as Carlsen, Kramnik, Nakamura and the top four English players like last year. And in the New Year I am planning to go to Italy to play in an Open there in February. But more about it later.