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.