January 28, 2008 • General
Yay! Today was, without a doubt, the best game I’ve played all tournament. After my fairly shaky last couple of rounds, today I was paired against WGM Harika. I’ve actually known her for quite some time, so I was fairly familiar with her style. For this reason, I chose to play into the Meran yet again. However, I chose to play the order with d5,c6,e6 in order to avoid the Moscow variations with Bg5. Harika slightly surprised me by playing the Shabalov variation with 7.g4. Ironically I have also had this position with white against Shabalov (Nakamura-Shabalov, Foxwoods 2006). As such, I’m fairly well versed in many of these lines; I chose the fairly quiet 7…h6 variation in order to avoid a huge theoretical discussion. Most of the moves were fairly standard until I deviated from Dreev-Petrosyan, Aeroflot 2006 by playing 17…0-0. Although 17…Qb4 was perfectly fine, I felt that in that game after 18.Qd2 Qb5 19.0-0-0 c5 20.Bxb7 Rxb7 21.dxc5 0-0 22.Qd3! was too drawish. I am not sure whether Harika had anything better in the game, but it all started turning very ugly for white after I found the move 24…Qf6! I have not had the chance to look at the game with Fritz or Rybka yet, so I’m not sure where the improvements are for white. I am still remaining focused on my goal of winning my last five games, so I have not really paid attention to the leaders of the tournament. 2 Down, 3 to go!