NH Chess Tournament 2010 Round 3 Recap

August 14, 2010 • General

Hello to everyone out there in the wide world and on their computers with internet access. After the great swindle in round 2, I went into round 3 with White against Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen. Much like van Wely, Nielsen is someone whom I have run into a lot over the last year and a half. However, like van Wely, I’ve only played classical games against him here despite many rapid/blitz games. Although Peter is known as a very solid player, his main claim to fame is the preparation he has done with the current world champion, Vishy Anand. As such, his general opening preparation is always quite good and he doesn’t tend to lose very often. Therefore, I went into this game wanting to play something simple with a fair amount of play and simply see what would happen.

I opened with 1.d4 and Peter as he has done every single time we have played so far, (including blitz) chose to play the Queens Gambit Declined. Unlike the other games, I decided to play a main variation as I continued with 5.Bf4. Peter ended up avoiding all the particularly sharp variations and instead played 5…Nbd7 6.c5 Nh5 with the idea of eliminating my dark square bishop. After a long sequence of normal moves, the first critical position was reached after I chose 15.Bc2 avoiding a trade of light squared bishops. (Diagram 1)

This rather unorthodox looking move appears to drop material at first site after (15…bxc5 16.bxc5 Nxc5 however, I calculated that after 17.Bxh7 Kxh7 18.dxc5) the two knights are better than the two bishops. Nielsen played another fairly natural move in 15…Bc4 16.Qd2 Ra7 17.Ne5 axb4 18.axb4 bxc5 19.bxc5 Nxe5 20.fxe5 Be7 21.Rab1 Rfa8 22.Rb4 (Diagram 2)

Here the main idea for White is to try and double on the b file while either trying to get in Na4-b6 or Rb6 and Ba4 at some point putting a lot of pressure on the c6 pawn. Black on the other hand wants to try and exchange a set of rooks and eventually go Bd8-a5. Sure enough, the game continued with 22…Bd8 but here between a miscalculation and a move order mishap, I ended up playing 23.Ne4? in our post mortem we concluded that had I played 23.Reb1 first, the position is better for White as 23…Qc8 24.Ne4! Ba5 25.Nf6 gxf6 26.exf6 kh8 27.Qh6 Qg8 28.Rb8! wins and 23…Qe7 24.Bd3 gives White an advantage due to a favorable exchange of light squared bishops and continued pressure on the b file. Alas in the game, Peter played 23…Qe7 and what I miscalculated here was that 24.Reb1 loses to the incredibly annoying 24…Ba2! and I lose an exchange or a piece. After using quite a bit of time and being highly annoyed with myself, I played 24.Nc3 as its the only move which doesn’t lose material. 24…Ra3? Peter returns the favor. After 24…Ba5 the position is definitely equal if not better for Black. Nevertheless, sometimes it is hard psychologically to play a natural move when your opponent ends up wasting a move as you want to punish it. 25.Reb1! (Diagram 3)

At this point during the game, I realized that I had gotten lucky and figured that I was probably a bit better here. 25…g6 26.Ne4! dxe4?! The reason I only give this move as dubious as opposed to a clear blunder is that the line which Rybka prefers is something no human would play. (26…Qf8 27.Nf6 Bxf6 28.exf6 Bb5 29.Qf4 Ra2) with approximate equality. However, there is certainly still plenty of play and Black’s position is very passive. 27.Rxc4 e3 28.fxe3 Qg5 29.Bd3 h5 (29…Qh6 30.Qe2 Bg5 31.e4 Be3 32. Kg2 Rd8 33.Rbb4) is a better try than the game. 30.Rcb4! a critical move to try and force an exchange of rooks which will eliminate any potential threats on a1/a2. 30…h4 31.Kg2 Kg7 32.Rb7 Ra2 33.R1b2 (Diagram 4)

Here in bad time pressure Peter blows it with 33…Ba5? (33…Rxb2 34.Rxb2 Ra3 is a better try, but I still would have kept a significant advantage after 35.Rb7) 34.Qf2 (34.Rxf7 is probably winning too, but I could not see a clear win and was worried about some sort of tactic after (34…Kg8 35.Qe2 Rxv2 36.Qxb2 Qxe3) 34…Rxb2 35.Rxb2 Ra7 preventing an invasion on the 7th rank. 36.Qf4 Bd8 (36…Qxf4 37.gxf4) is hopelessly lost due to the weak c6 pawn. 37.Be4 h3 clear desperation in time trouble, but it is already pretty hopeless. (37…Qh5 38.Bf3 h3 39.Kf2) is also winning. 38.Kxh3 Qh5 39.Kg2 Qd1 40.Rf2 (Diagram 5)


Here Peter resigned as there are he is down 2 pawns and both c6 as well as f7 are weak. Overall I was pleased with the game, but I still should have played the correct move order with 23.reb1 first. Alas, a win is a win and I will move on and start preparing for rounds 4 and 5 and then enjoy a much needed rest day at the halfway point.




  1. FirebrandX

    Fantastic job, Hikaru! By the way, if you bump into Caruana’s 2nd, Boris Avrukh, tell him he’s full of shit when he said ‘No engine suggests this move’ about 16. Qe1 in the game between Caruana – Svidler of that same round. I plugged the position into Deep Rybka 3 on my computer and it chose Qe1 after just 2 minutes and 50 seconds, depth 17 ply. So yeah, there’s no hidden value there that a computer can’t see.

  2. I see you lost 2 games after this one. Svildler and Gelfand are quite tough. Don’t get discouraged though as Fischer and Kasparov lost a lot of games along the way as well 🙂 Asians represent! LOL

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Way to play it Hikaru…very nice chess 2nd half.

  5. Congrats on winning the tournament. We knew you could do it. Way to hang tough!

  6. Sebastien Houle

    Félicitations on your ticket for Amber 2011 Hikaru. Great show of determination through adversity.

  7. Mundi King

    Congratulations on a nice victory. Very interested to hear your thoughts after round 3.

  8. GMHikaru – you twattered: “Back on track with an interesting win in round 3 of the Spanish Team Championship.”

    This game was not part of the tournament broadcast, nor is it available online.

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