Monday, March 06, 2006

City of Sydney - Round 3

I damn near had a disaster yesterday. On the way to the venue, while waiting at the traffic light, a couple of perfectly pressed mormons came my direction and asked, "Have you spoken to missionaries before?"

Normally, I'd say, "Go get a real job you bastards".

But my mind was fixed on my game against Ben Ingram that I just sort of grunted, "yeah, I have" - then proceeded to cross the road. In my haste to avoid talking to those two I failed to notice an approaching car. Oops, a quick jog and I just made it.

And a second near-disaster threatened to happen. Walking past Macquatie Hotel, I saw the grand final between Sydney FC and the Mariners flickering on the TV screens. With a live jazz band playing plus the pub's own brew on tap, it was hard to resist. I was reminded of why I gave up weekend chess!

After a quick check of scores, 0-0 at the 57th minute mark, I pressed on. And so, we come to round 3.

If one could say something good about the disappointingly low attendance of this year's event, it must be that the tournament has a somewhat more friendly character. It's just a bunch of guys having a few good games of chess. Players seem less concerned about the competition. Pat Halpin happily showed off his lost effort, against Raymond Song, to Aram Sandalciyan before the two got down to a slugfest. And Leo Soto forgot himself for a moment and began to chat to me in Spanish! "Listen Leo", I tell him, "the only thing Spanish about me is my surname!"

(Actually, I am fantasising of a Spanish wife. I hear they are excellent lovers and very good cooks!)

Still, there were some real business to be done and the top board match-up between Bird and Xie was the one to watch. Xie, who needs 26 FIDE points to reach the magic 2400 and that IM title, was the first to vary with 16...Bb5. My database only has 2 other previous tries: 16...Bf6? and 16...Bc6, both of which, in my opinion, are worse.

City of Sydney 2006
Bird, Andrew
Xie, George

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. e4 Nc6 5. Be2 d5 6. exd5 exd5 7. d4 Be6 8. Be3 dxc4 9. O-O cxd4 10. Nxd4 Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Be7 12. Qa4+ Qd7 13. Qxd7+ Bxd7 14. Bxc4 O-O 15. Nd5 Nxd5 16. Bxd5 Bb5 (16... Bc6 17. Bxc6 bxc6; 16... Bf6 17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Rfc1 Be6 19. Bxb7 Rab8 20. Rc7 Rfd8 21. b3 Rd6 22. h3 Kg7 23. Re1 Rbd8 24. Bf3 Ra6 {1-0 Oratovsky,M (2536)-Ubilava,E (2530)/La Roda 2004}) 17. Rfd1 Ba6 18. g3 Rfd8 19. Bf3 h6 20. Kg2 f5 21. Be5 Bg5 22. Rxd8+ Rxd8 23. Rd1 Rxd1 24. Bxd1 Bc4 25. Bf3 Bxa2 26. Bxb7 Bd2 27. Ba6 Ba5 28. Bd4 Bb6 29. Bxb6 axb6 30. Kf3 Kf7 31. Ke3 Ke7 32. Kd4 Kd6 33. f4 Bb1 34. Bb5 g5 35. Be8 1/2-1/2

The round's upset award must surely go to Anthony Pickering. He bravely essayed the Benko Gambit against the highly rated Tomek Rej (2264). Anthony's play sparkled with attack and 17...Nxf4!! was an absolute beauty. I can just imagine his thinking, "You take my Rook, I kill your King!"

Choosing an opening that leads to complex tactics was particularly smart since Tomek can usually spend large amounts of time for a move. By the time I watched the last few moments of this encounter, Tomek was already down to less than a minute. A piece down, and checkmate imminent, Tomek resigned.

City of Sydney 2006
Rej, Tomek
Pickering, Anthony

1. d4 c5 2. d5 Nf6 3. c4 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. Nc3 axb5 6. e4 b4 7. Nb5 d6 8. Bf4 g5 9. Bxg5 Nxe4 10. Bf4 Nf6 11. Bc4 Bg7 12. Qe2 O-O 13. Nf3 Nbd7 14. O-O Nb6 15. a4 a new move. 15. Bd3 is usual according to my database. 15...Nfxd5 16. Bxd5 Nxd5 17. Qe4

After 17. Qe4

18. Qxa8 Qd7! 19. Qe4 Bh6 20. Rfe1 Bb7 21. Qxe7? missing Black's next move which now leads to a brutal finish. 21...Qg4 22. Nh4 Bxg2 23. Re3 Nh3+ 24. Rxh3 Bxh3+ 25. Kh1 Bg5 26. Qb7 Qxh4 27. Rg1 Qf4 28. f3 Rd8 29. Rg3 Qc1+ 30. Rg1 Qe3 31. Qd5 h6 32. Nc7 Be6 33. Nxe6 fxe6 34. Qc6 d5 35. a5 Qxf3+ 36. Rg2 Qe4 37. Qxc5 Rf8 38. Qb5 Rf2 39. Qe8+ Kg7 40. Qd7+ Kf6 41. Qd8+ Kf5 42. Qf8+ Bf6 0-1

And in this next game, Johny Bolens bangs out 1. a4 and manages only to confuse himself. Maybe it was because he turned up some 50 minutes late for this game. But let's not take anything away from Laura Moylan. Her play was smooth and very nice.

City of Sydney 2006
Bolens, Johny
Moylan, Laura

1. a4 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c3 e6 4. b4 Bd6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Na3 c6 7. Bg5 h6 8. Bh4 g5 9. Bg3 Bxg3 10. hxg3 Ne4 11. Qc2 g4 12. Nh4 Qg5 13. e3 Ndf6 14. Bd3 O-O 15. O-O-O b6 16. Kb2 c5 17. Rh2 cxb4 18. cxb4 Bd7 19. Rdh1 Bxa4 20. Qxa4 Nxf2 21. Ba6 Nxh1 22. Rxh1 Qxe3 23. Qc2 Qxd4+ 24. Ka2 Ne4 25. Nf3 Qxb4 26. Qc1 gxf3 27. gxf3 Qd2+ 28. Qxd2 Nxd2 29. f4 Kg7 30. g4 Ne4 31. Nc2 b5 32. Ka3 Rab8 33. Kb4 Rb6 34. Ra1 Rd8 0-1

Meanwhile, on board 7, Jose Escribano insisted on his beloved 1...f5 and quickly got into trouble. His King never managed to find safety. Long castle, 16...0-0-0, was illusory and the end was near.

City of Sydney 2006
Wright, Neil
Escribano, Jose

1. Nf3 f5 2. d3 Nf6 3. e4 fxe4 4. dxe4 e5 5. Bc4 c6 6. Nc3 Bb4 7. O-O b5 8. Bb3 Bxc3 9. bxc3 d5 10. Ba3 a5 11. Nxe5 a4 12. Nxc6 Nxc6 13. Bxd5 Qc7 14. e5 Nxd5 15. Qxd5 Ba6 16. Bd6 O-O-O 17. c4 b4 18. Bxc7 Rxd5 19. cxd5 Bxf1 20. Bd6 Nxe5 21. Kxf1 Ng4 22. Rb1 Rd8 23. Rxb4 Rxd6 24. Rxg4 Rxd5 25. Rxa4 g5 26. Ke2 h5 27. Ke3 Kd7 28. Rd4 Ke6 29. Rxd5 Kxd5 1-0

Finally, I score my first half point in this tournament against Ben Ingram. A tough game for both of us, I think. I had not bothered to check out my opponent's repertoire before this round because he has few games in the database! So I thought, "bugger it, let's just play chess". But Ben reeled out a Slav - one of my faves, so I was quite comfy in the opening. As usual, it was in the midgame that I struggled. I simply could not see a clear path. Maybe some dear fans have some suggestions.

City of Sydney 2006
Rosario, Amiel
Ingram, Ben

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. e3 e6 7. Bxc4 Bb4 8. O-O O-O 9. Qe2 Bg6 10. Ne5 Bh5 11. f3 I was very tempted to play the other line 11. g4 Bg6 12. Nxg6 hxg6 but I thought, nah, let's play conservatively. 11... Nfd7?! More usual is 11... Nbd7 12. Nd3 a5 13. Nf4 Bg6 14. Rd1 12. Ne4 Nxe5 13. dxe5 Qc7

After 13...Qc7

14. Nd6
I was going to opt for 14. Ng3 Qxe5 15. Nxh5 Qxh5 16. e4 But it seems that Black can simply develop naturally. I thought if I'm going to drop a pawn, I might as well have a couple of free tempi with it. Of course, losing that pawn is not a problem since Black's Bishop on h5 is of no use to him for some time. 14... Bxd6 15. exd6 Qxd6 16. Rd1 Qc7 17. e4 Nd7 18. Bg5! Rfe8 19. Kh1 Nf8 20. Qd2 f6 21. Bf4 Qc8 I was calculating the fanciful 21... Qb6 22. a5 Qc5 23. Rac1 Rad8 24. Qxd8 (24. Bd6 - Fritz) 24... Rxd8 25. Rxd8 Qe7 (25... Qxa5) 26. Rcd1 Bf7) 22. Rac1Bf7 23. b4 e5 24. Bxf7+ Kxf7 25. Be3 Qe6! 26. b5 cxb5 27. axb5 Re7 28. Rc5 (28. Qa5) 28... Rd7 29. Rd5 Rxd5 30. exd5 Qd7 31. Qb4 b6 32. h4 Rc8 33. Bc1? A bad move actually which I had not noticed til after the game. Black can now simply play Rc8-c5 at a some moment. Kg8? (why not the immediate 33... Rc5) 34. Ba3 Ne6 35. Qe7 Qxe7 36. Bxe7 Nf8 37. d6 Nd7 38. Ra1 Kf7 39. Rxa7 Rc1+ 40. Kh2 Ke6 41. h5 Rc4 42. g4 h6 43. Rc7 Rb4 44. Rc8 Rxb5 45. Kg3 Rb3 46. Kf2 Ra3 47. Rg8 Kf7 48. Rd8 Ra7 49. Rc8 b5 50. Rc7 Ra2+ 51. Ke3 Ke6 52. Rb7 I was quite worried about my position now. Ben has the advantage. Lucky for me, he was down to his last 2 minutes. After declining my draw offer earlier, he now repeats the position. Alternatively, 52. Rc8 Nb6 53. Rg8 Nc4+ 54. Kd3 Rf2 55. Rxg7 Rxf3+ 56. Ke2 52... Rb2 53. Rc7 Nb6 54. Rb7 Nd7 55. Rc7 Nb6 56. Rb7 Nd7 1/2-1/2

Pictures in my flickr account.

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