August 28, 2008 • General
Hello again everyone! I did not have a chance to post a blog yesterday as I was out exploring Montreal for the first time since I arrived on Sunday. I spent much of the morning walking along various paths of the Mont Royal which has some great natural beauty and spectacular views. After going up the Mont Royal, I went to Old Montreal and walked along some of the nice streets and shops which are quite crowded with tourists. One of the interesting things I find about Montreal is that it very much reminds me of France with both the language as well as the whole atmosphere and culture. This is why despite absolutely loving Montreal, I doubt I could ever live here as it is just too reminiscent of Europe. Considering that I almost exclusively play in Europe these days, it is nice to not be in the same sort of area as that in which my profession is spent. This is probably why I will end up staying in Vancouver, BC instead of coming back to the east coast.
Onto the rounds! In round 3 I was paired against IM Thomas “Thoma” Roussel-Roozmon with Black. Prior to this matchup I had only played him once before in the World Open back in 2006. The game itself was fairly dull as we played an Exchange Kings Indian in which I was slowly able to outplay him and win. This time around, I did not feel like having to grind as much, so I chose to play the Dutch instead. He surprised me with 2.d3 after which I played the slightly dubious 2…Nf6 (d6 was better). After this choice, the game became fairly complicated with the position being around equal. Despite our own evaluations, Rybka had the position as equal until the fatal blunder 23.Rb3. I am sure that there must have been something better than 21…h3, but I have yet to find anything conclusive. However, after 23.Rb3 Rf3 24.Qe2 Rxb3 25.cxb3, I found the extremely strong move 25…e5! After this, the rest was quite easy and I won a few moves later.
In round 4 I was paired with GM Pascal Charbonneau. I have known Pascal going as far back as the North Bay Open in 1999. Surprisingly, despite our many appearances at the same tournaments over the years, we have never actually been paired as far as I can tell. In the game yesterday, Pascal surprised me by playing the Marshall Gambit. From what I saw in the database and from my preparation, Pascal had never played this opening before. This rather unsettled me, so I went for a quiet variation wtih 15. Qe2!? Unfortunately, my rather nice novelty 18.f3 turned out to not be one! Somehow I had overlooked the game Kasimdzhanov-Bacrot, France 2008. The move 18…Nf4! is very strong as the rest leads to a forced draw. 19.Rxe8 Rxe8 20.Ne4 Nh3 21.Kg2 (Not 21.Kh1 Bxg3!! 22.hxg3 Ng5 winning) or (21.Kh1 Bxg3 22.Nxg3 Re1! 23.Nxh5 Rxf1 24.Kg2 Rg1 mate). Alas, after four rounds I have 3/4 and will be playing with Black against Zugic today before the rest day tomorrow. Hopefully I can play well and we shall see what happens.
August 26, 2008 • General
Before, I get right into this post, I’d like to start off by offering my apologies for posting blogs the day after the round. Unfortunately, after the round ends, I am usually quite tired, so I come back to the house, eat dinner and then spend the rest of the evening playing pool or just listening to some great people speak some excellent French. Therefore, it is unlikely I will be posting after rounds end.
Yesterday, I was paired against American GM Varuzhan Akobian. I first remember seeing Akobian pop up on the American chess scene around 2001-2002. It was during this time that he emigrated from Armenia to the US and chose to live in Los Angeles. Akobian stalled somewhat after his big run during that time, but due to some good results (Gibraltar,Australia) he has improved his rating significantly to the 2600+ mark. During these past years, we have had many matchups with the overall score being +1 for him from 5 games. The lone decisive game was in the Imre Konig Memorial way back in 2002. Since then we have split the following four matchups. Onto the game!
In the game the opening was a French defense with Akobian employing his favorite variation 3…dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 (we’ve had 3 games with this line already) after which I followed up with 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Bd3!? This was definitely a surprise to Varuzhan as he used quite some time before playing 6…c5. The game then went 7.Nxf6 Nxf6 8.Be3!? Although I did not know whether I would get this variation, I had done significant preparation on it before the game. He then decided to play 8…Qc7 and it was fairly standard until move 16 when he erred with 16…Nd5? If he had chosen to play 16…Rfd8 17.g5 Qf4 then the game would have remained roughly equal. However after this mistake I capitalized very quickly with 17.Qe4! leading to an unpleasant endgame. Although there were definitely some chances in this endgame, from a practical point of view it is very hard to defend and I was able to win. For further analysis on the game, you can check the games section which I will be adding this game to shortly.
After two rounds, I now have 1.5/2 and am tied for first. Today I will be playing Canadian IM Thomas “Thoma” Roussel-Roozmon with Black and we shall see what happens. Check back tomorrow for an update on today’s game. There is also a chance I will give a little commentary on my games via ICC as well, so make sure to check both this website but also ICC.
August 25, 2008 • General
Well, hmm, where to start? I arrived in Montreal the afternoon before yesterday on a surprisingly short flight from New York (1 1/2 hours). Overall the first day was nice as I am staying with the Charbonneau’s, his great sisters and mum who I have not seen in years. So I had a pretty good day to start, but that was before the tournament began. Yesterday, I was paired with Black against fellow American Grandmaster and current US Champion Yury Shulman. Although I was feeling good for most of the day, I proceeded to play the game like a total beginner. It started when I simply forgot a move order in the opening by playing 9…0-0? instead of 9…Nfd7 which was correct. Unfortunately for me, Yury found the right idea by playing 10.Nd2 Nfd7 11.Nd3! The point being that unlike the main variation with 9…Nfd7 10.Nd3 dxc4 where I am up a pawn, here the knight on d2 protects c4. However, despite my horrible mistake, I proceeded to find some play with 10…b5 11.c5 e5!?. Later on, I got a slightly worse position and was worse until Shulman decided to become overly aggressive (after declining a draw offer) by playing 26.g4?! following it up with 27.Bh3 which was even worse. After this I obtained a completely winning position only to overlook that in the final set of moves with 33…Qe6 followed by 34…Rd2 and 35…g3, that it leads to absolutely nothing as in the final position Qh2 Kf1 Qf2?? Bxf2 seems to win a free queen. Alas, not a very inspiring game for either of us, but a fair result. Today I will play GM Akobian, so hopefully I can play better and have a good result.
Until next time!
August 17, 2008 • General
Ohaio gozaimasu from Japan! The tournament reached its finale yesterday as I won again to finish on 7/7. Overall, I did not have to face anyone particularly strong as the second highest ranked player, FM Akira Watanabe 2356 (Japan’s Number 1) did not win his sixth round game to force a penultimate showdown. Therefore, I cruised and probably am sitting right at 2700 Fide now. I’ll just wait to see what the actual numbers are come October. For now though, I am going to shift my focus to the Montreal International Round Robin since it is my last rated event before the October Fide rating list. In general though, I find that paying too much attention to ratings (Live Top Ratings in particular) is quite a distraction and not worth the stress or effort to look. My attitude is just to play every game one at a time and see where you end up in the end. I would like to once again extend my thanks to Ms. Watai the head of the Japanese Chess Association for inviting me for the 3rd year in a row. Although the competition itself has not been overly tough, it is always nice to be able to relax, win a tournament and socialize with new people. Hopefully I will be back next year so that I can also fulfill another goal of mine which is to climb Mount Fuji!
No doubt most of the people who are reading this blog are from ICC, so I will mention my brief blitz session today. There are many detractors who choose to say plenty of less than respectful things when I decide to play out a drawish position. First of all, people must understand this is ICC, not over the board chess. Secondly, there is no RULE against playing on in drawn positions on ICC no matter how drawn it is. In general, I find that “anything goes” on ICC. Plenty of people will say one thing yet when in the actual situation, they will not follow their own words. When I play on ICC, I just try to have a fun time and enjoy myself, so I would appreciate it if, in the future, others learn to stop taking ICC so seriously. This would help immensely as the atmosphere would be more enjoyable. One last point which I would like to make is that AndrinoGiardino is, without a doubt, Levon Aronian. I do not know the reasoning behind GM Agdestein’s comments saying that it was Carlsen, but I am quite certain that it isn’t.
My plans for right now are to go shower, finish packing and catch my flight back to New York. I have about four days before I head off to Montreal, so I will try to relax and just do a little more final preparations for the tournament. Also, I will be adding games weekly to the “games” section of my website for those who are interested. If anyone has any feedback in terms of the recent changes (events,games,what’s new etc) just let me know.
August 16, 2008 • General
So I won both of my games yesterday to remain perfect with a score of 6/6. Very shortly I will be playing the 7th and final round which I hope to win for obvious reasons. Japan has been another fun and interesting experience for me although the more I come here, the more it seems less and less exotic of a travel destination. That being said, I will always enjoy coming back to my homeland and look forward to it each and every year. The only downside (note to travelers) is that the weather has always been in the mid-high 80’s with extreme humidity which makes the 20 minute walk to the playing site rather less than enjoyable to say the least. However, such is life and so far it doesn’t seem to be affecting my play.
Since I haven’t done much with this website recently, there are several updates to report. On the “homepage” there is the What’s New tab with all the most recent news on me. I have also changed the events page slightly so that it now is in a calendar format which I hope makes it slightly more lively. Another big change which will be coming is that I should have a java viewer from which I can upload games. Some might wonder why I am not trying to use a Chessbase format, but the problem is simply that it requires way too much programming. The last note and this is almost certainly the most important one is that I will be starting a monthly interview program. I do not think it will be live at first, (probably mp3 format on the site) but I plan to allow people to submit questions from ICC. I plan to answer 20-30 questions in a 1 hour time frame. If you leave me a message (to smallville) on ICC or simply here too it would be much appreciated. I would blog more, but I actually have to go get ready to play my last round game here in Japan.