Gjovik Rapid Aker Challenge Day 3
January 05, 2009 • General
In the 5th game of the tournament I got black against GM Lie and chose to play a modern/pirc. The position was fine for me, but choosing to play Bg4 in conjunction with Nd7,Rc8 and c5 was probably inaccurate. Afterwards he found the very strong idea of 16.b4 followed by 17.Na2!. After a long variation of moves, he ended up a pawn, but the position is probably equal still due to the everlasting weakness on c2. A justified result probably would have been a draw here, but Lie went badly astray with 25.Bg5 Re8 26.exf5 gxf5 27.f4?? which allowed the very strong 27…Ng6 after which he is just losing. With Peter losing to Magnus, this made the whole situation complicated. Many people have wondered why I took a draw with Magnus in the last round.
My general strategy was to avoid much risk and head for blitz if necessary. As it turned out, Peter would go on to beat Kjetil which left the latter with the score of 0/6 and led to a three way tiebreak. In the first game I was simply not ready for blitz and used way too much time before the game even really got started. This led to me getting a horrendous position before Peter blundered when we were both in time pressure by allowing me to pick off his a4 pawn with 30…a5! . I probably had some drawing chances here, but due to the time disadvantage I had, I missed a nice tactical shot with 38. Ra8 followed by 39. Qe7. In the second tiebreak game, Peter chose to play into the Ruy against Magnus and got another bad position with little counterplay as they went into the endgame. He slowly got ground down and lost. This left me in the very unpleasant situation of having to win with White against Magnus in the final blitz game. Magnus again chose to play the Slav against me but with 4…dxc4. I chose to play the 5.e4 variation because the situation dictated that I needed to play for a win and although I normally would have played the 5.a4 lines with 6.e3 and 7.Bxc4, I figured that creating a messy position was a better choice. The ensuing position is very complicated and although I was down two pawns, it was much easier for me to play. I have seen various comments suggesting that I was not in fact winning. However, I was up about 10 seconds when I went wrong with 34.Bxh6. After 34.Rf6! Kc7 (Kb7) then I have a very big advantage after 35.Ra2. When you consider the time in this position too, it should be winning with all the threats looming on d5/f7/h6. Alas, once queens came off, I might still be able to play for a win, but I’m not the one with the obvious moves anymore. As is, I completely panicked and blundered horribly by sacrificing a piece.
In conclusion, I am not disappointed with my games against Kjetil or Magnus as I felt I played very well overall. However, I am far from pleased with my games against Peter as I played badly in all three of the games. Perhaps I should have played for a win in the final game against Magnus, but I felt that blitz should be favourable for me. Unfortunately, whether it is due to taking classical chess far more seriously or just a lack of blitz on ICC or anywhere else, I seem to be quite a bit slower than I used to be. Overall, I came here with very low expectations due to my lack of preparation, sickness and personal problems. So I am quite pleased that I had two winning positions against the number four player in the world. In the future, I just have to find a way to play well against Peter as I now have a nice score of .5/4.
Today I will play Kjetil in the match format and hopefully I can pull it together and win. After a long day yesterday, my goal is simply to just forget and try to play good chess on the final day. I will also take this opportunity to announce that I will be playing in the Canadian Open from July 11-19, 2009 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I would also like to take this opportunity to mention that I am currently spending most of my time in Europe and New York right now, not Vancouver.