A Canadian in Barcelona!
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Canada’s top GM ties for 1st place in Sants Open!
Rounds 9 and 10 saw me add 1.5 points to my score, giving me a total of 8 points from 10 possible. This was good enough for a share of first place, alongside gms Gajewski, Rakhmanov, Shankland and Cordova.
I finished second according to the tie-break Bucholz, but the organizers decided to hold a playoff of blitz games for the spectators’ pleasure. This saw the Polish gm Gajewski emerge victorious, while I finished 4th. My fellow North American gm, Samuel Shankland, finished below me.
My 9th round game against my friend IM Sam Collins (Ireland) saw my opponent play a brilliant game, practically refuting my move order in the Sicilian, and after a piece sacrifice he seemed to be heading not ony for victory, but for his 3rd and final gm-norm.
Sam Collins: closing in on his final GM-norm!
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 16th MOVE (16.Ng5!)
Believe it or not, a new move! Even so, as explained in the notes inside the pgn-viewer of this game, I had forseen this move over the board, but could not find a good way to prevent it! INSTEAD, if my opponent wanted to play it then I had hoped that my position would be strong enough to resist…PLAY continued:
16…h6!? [ I thought too passive was 16… g6 17. Qf3 Bf8 18. Ne4!] 17. Bh7! [ Tempting but unsound would be 17. Nxf7?! Kxf7 18. Qh5 ( or 18. Bh7? Rxd2 19. Qxd2 Nxe5) 18… Kg8 19. Bxh6 (19. Qg6 Nxe5) 19… Rxd3 20. Bxg7 Kxg7 21. Re4 Nxe5! 22. Rxe5 Bf6; and the attack is spent 17. Nh7 Qd7] 17… Kh8! [17… Kf8? loses immediately 18. Nxf7±! Kxf7 19. Qf3 Ke8 20. Bg6 Kd7 21. Qd3] 18. Nxf7 Kxh7 19. Qe4
A nasty check.
19…g6!? [19… Kg8? 20. Nxh6 Kh8 21. Re3± and there is no detence against Rh3] 20. Bxh6!
In my original calculations I had thought that White could not play as slowly as this, but I was wrong. Sam deserves credit for his accurate positional interpretation of the position. It turns out that while Black can hold out against immediate attacking schemes, he can not hold out in the long run as White increases his stranglehold on the position.
20…Bb7 21. Ng5! Bxg5 22. Bxg5 Rd7! 23. Bf6! Rg7! [ unsatisfactory would be 23… Ne7 24. Qh4 Kg8 25. Rad1 Rad8 26. Qh8 Kf7 27. Qg7 Ke8 28. Bxe7]
It appears that Black is holding. Taking on g7 would reduce the pressure and leave Black with an acceptable game.
A very strong move! The d-file should turn out to be one of White’s biggest assets. White combines the possibility of doubling on the d-file with a rook shift to the 3rd rank to get the the h-file.
24… Rf8! [24… Na5 25. Qg4 Rf8 26. Re3] 25. Re3!? (25.Rd6 is also strong) 25… Kg8
Now Collins can win the game and the gm-norm with 26. Bxg7! Kxg7 (26… Qxg7 27. Rd7!! wins in every line) 27. Qh4! and there is no defence to the threat Rh3
INSTEAD, running short of time, Sam played the imprecise 26.Qg4 which –while it still maintains the edge–allows Black into the game. A few more imprecisions and Black soon found himself with a winning attack himself against the White King! Please see the pgn viewer for the game continuation.
MORAL OF THE STORY:
IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO HAVE A WON GAME…YOU ALSO MUST WIN IT!
My 10th round game against the 21-year old Peruvian star Emilio Cordova was a 9:30 am game. That is, a morning round. I debated whether I should play the sharper 1.e4 or the more positional approach (1.c4), and settled on a strategy of cat and mouse play.
In the end, while I held a slight edge towards the end, trying to convert it would have required more time than I had on the clock. The game was drawn by repetition of position.
One of the highlights of my tournament was meeting with fellow-blogger José Eduardo Bastos de Oliveira Maia (Brazil) of Maiakowsky blog fame. Photo by Sam Collins.