Round Two and Three
January 24, 2008 • General
Rather unfortunately, I did not have time to blog yesterday due to being extremely busy. One of the many reasons why I come to Gibraltar is for the fun atmosphere which abounds in the evenings. Usually, the schedule I have here is as follows: 8 AM: Wakeup, go for a run, shower 9:30 Go to breakfast 10-12:30 Study chess 12:30-1:30 Lunch/Australian Open 2-2:50 Study some more, get prepared for the game. This has been my morning schedule so far and its worked rather well. After this half of the day, most of the players play their games, go eat dinner and then hang out/drink/etc afterwards. Last night was very long for me as I ended up playing one of the side events “4 Player Team Blitz.” This event consisted of teams of 4 playing each other. My team with me, Indian GM Gopal (drew Ni Hua), IM Harika, and WGM Ramaswamy. Sadly, it was not the easiest event to win as I had to go up against two other ICC legends (Verdenotte) Gawain Jones and (Tigrano) Tigran Petrosyan. However, despite my lackluster play which probably had to do something with the alcohol, we managed to win all except for 1 of our matches by big enough scores to win the event.
As per request, I will attempt to mention more about my games from this tournament. Yesterday, I got paired against Hungarian IM Krisztian Szabo who I had never heard of before. I played my personal favorite variation in the Moscow Variation with 9.e5 and 10.Nd2. I first prepared this variation during the round robin tournament I played in Barcelona, Spain last October and have since had some good results beating Van Wely and Kleiman with this variation. Yesterdays game was very complicated and somewhere in the middlegame my young opponent missed an opportunity to castle queenside either with 17…0-0-0 18.Qh5 with complications or 18…0-0-0 19.Nb3 with a small advantage for me. After this, my opponent proceeded to make a few slightly inaccurate moves and eventually I was able to take advantage of his weak pawns and badly placed king. All in all, it was an interesting game with many possibilities.
Today I got paired with famous English GM Jonathan Speelman. Although this pairing was reasonable for me, I would have preferred to play someone who is more tactical as opposed to positional. Nevertheless, the show must go on. In the opening, Speelman being a slightly more classical player chose to avoid the Moscow and went into the quieter Meran with 6.Qc2 followed by 7.Bd3 out of the opening the position was roughly equal until about move 16 when things started heating up. 16.e4 was probably slightly inaccurate as it allowed me the opportunity to play 16…Qc7! after which I would have had a solid advantage. The more precise way of playing would have been 16.Bd3 Bb7 17.e4 transposing into the game. After this, I played the slightly inaccurate 20…Bd6 provoking 21.e5! If I had chosen to play simply 20…Qc7 21.Rc2 Qb8 the position would have remained equal. Instead, I completely underestimated the very strong 23.Ra3! after which it seems that I am in some trouble. Unfortunately, I decided to exacerbate the situation by playing 23…Rc6 allowing the very strong tactical shot 24.Bxh6! After the game, Speelman asked me if I had seen this tactical shot. I had in fact seen it, but I missed the very simple line of 24…gxh6 25. Be4 Qc8 26.Rg3 Kh8 27.Qb2 e5 28.Qd2 and I overlooked that Rxd6 was not possible here. This was quite a rude awakening for me as I had evaluated the position as being equal. After this blunder though, I tried my hardest to hold the position and draw. We both made a couple of dubious moves as time control neared, but then I completely blundered with 35…Qg7?? I had intended to play Rf4 and simply forgot! Luckily for me, Speelman then returned the favor with 39.Qc3 allowing Nxa4. If he had simply played 39.Qa7 it should be a routine win for white. At the end, 41.Qc2 is possible and yields white some good winning chances still. However, despite my idiotic play in the middle game a draw is a draw so all is well. 3 Rounds down, 7 to go!