I enjoyed my second stroke of luck yesterday when I beat Matthew McNabb (NZL) - a player who is some 500 points above me. Prior to the game, I did try to do some preparation - just looking at his games and his style. I noticed that he played the KID and was quite ready for that. Sydney player Vladimir Smirnov (who is a very powerful player himself) and I have played so many blitz games with the KID that I felt I was more than ready.
Sadly, Matthew delivered a big surprise with 1...d5. Aah, let's just play chess then.
Queenstown Chess Classic
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 dxc4 4. a4 e5 5. e3 exd4 6. exd4 Be6 I have absolutely no idea about this opening. OK, I thought, so he's won a pawn. I just began to remember some basic principles. If he wants to hold on to that pawn, so be it - I'm just going to develop normally, come what may. 7. Nf3 Nf6 8.Be2 Bb4 9. O-O O-O 10. Qc2 Na6?! This was an awkward move for my opponent. Even I did not understand it. I think the Knight belongs on d7. As it is now, the Knight is out of play for some time. 11. Rd1 Qc8 (11... Bxc3 12. Qxc3 Qd5 13. Ne5) 12. Bg5! Bxc3 13. Bxf6 Bxb2 14. Bxg7 Kxg7 (14... Bxa1 15. Bxf8 Qxf8 16. Rxa1 Nb4 17. Qc3 b5 18. axb5 cxb5 19. Ne5) 15. Qxb2
When I saw this position, my first thought was, "Hhmmm....tactics involving d5 push". 15...Bd5 16. Ne5 Qe6 17. Qc3 (17. Qxb7 c5 18. Qb2 cxd4 19. Qxd4) 17... b5 18. axb5 cxb5
19. Nxc4?? a gross miscalculation that my opponent failed to exploit. I totally forgot about my Bishop on e2! (19. Qa5 Nc5 (19... f6? 20. Bg4 Qb6 21. Nd7 Qxa5 22. Rxa5 Nc7) 20. Qxb5) 19... bxc4 After the alternative 19... Qxe2 White is simply lost in my opinion. 20. Qg3+ (20. Ne3 b4) 20... Kh8 21. Ne5 Rg8 20. Bxc4 Nb8 I had calculated only 20... Bxc4 21. d5+ Qf6 22. Qxc4 Nb8 23. d6 Rd8 24. Qg4+ Kh8 25. Rac1 which is why I decided to sacrifice a piece. Objectively, my position is quite bad. But I was strongly motivated by the idea of removing Black's 2 passed pawns as well as activating my Rooks.) 21. Ra5 Rd8 22. Qg3+ Kf8 23. Qg5 Bxc4 24. Qxd8+ Qe8 25. Qd6+ Qe7 26. Qh6+ Ke8 27. Re5 Be6 28. d5 Nd7 29. Ree1 Nf8 30. dxe6 fxe6 31. Qh5+ Ng6 32. Qb5+ Kf8 33. Qc6 (33. Rd7 Qf6 34. Qc6 Re8 35. Rxa7) 33... Re8 34. Rd7 Qf6 35. Rxa7 1-0
My opponent held out for a few more moves even though after my 23. Qg5, he was already lost. I suddenly felt nervous at that point. "Don't muck this up," I reminded myself. When he finally extended his hand in resignation, I was so relieved!
On board 1 yesterday, IM Alex Wohl suffered a dent in his campaign as he lost to GM Murray Chandler. "I've played some smooth games with black in this tournament, but every game with white has been a disaster", said Wohl at the post-mortem.
I had not seen anything like that before. Here is an highly experienced chess player who was actually receiving some lessons from a grandmaster. Chandler pointed out tricks and ideas that Wohl had apparently not seen or considered.
(As an aside, I absolutely despise patzers who interrupt the top masters during their post-mortems. Why don't you do this or do that, they ask. In Queenstown, and everywhere else I've been - in fact, there's always one or two who make the most ridiculous suggestions. Why don't they just shut up I wonder. To sit there quietly and listen is to receive a lesson that's probably worth more than the tournament entry fee itself.)
The last game to finish was Brown - Caoili. Arianne most likely had a draw in the endgame but her desire for a win cost her dearly. She lost.
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