International coverage of the Championship was virtually non-existent, though some short videos were put on youtube in the final days . There was no easy access to what was happening day by day other than thru the Monroi website. It was hard (re: impossible) to find the pgn-format games in any single place , and following the games-live-was often an exercise in frustration. No insult intended, but it is clear that the MONROI people need to fix some bugs in their system.
I followed closely the players’ progress thru the tournament, especially as I was interested in how Canada’s young talents are developing. In particular, I was very impressed with IMs Eric Hansen and Raja Panjwani. Both players take their chess very seriously and have tremendous fighting spirt. They are fearless. To my mind both youngsters are already GM-calibre. GM Sambuev had to play very well to achieve draws against them!
Eric won the critical 8th-round game against Raja Panjwani that allowed him to go the final round tied for 1st place with Sambuev. White managed to catch his opponent with a well prepared opening and, despite Raja’s stiff resistance and resourceful tactical play, Eric was able to push home his advantage, and with class. One of the most important games of this year’s championship.
IM Raja Panjwani (born 1990) represented Canada at last year’s World Junior and narrowly missed a GM norm. A physics and philosophy major, this talented youngster intends to study medicine in the near future. Raja does not have a lot of time to play or study chess because of his busy university schedule, but what he lacks in time he more than makes up with in love for the game, discipline and dedication. Raja is what I call a serious student of the game!
Raja was one of the favourites to win this tournament but his 8th round loss to Hansen was a heartbreaker. Never the less, Raja played many wonderful fighting games in Guelph, his last round against IM Gerzhoy being just one of them! Enjoy.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 23rd MOVE (23.Ra7):
White is threatening to bust Black on the Queenside, but Raja finds a creative resource to save the game.
The White King suddenly finds himself facing a blitz! He must play carefully not to lose…
THE GAME CONTINUED:
24.KxN PxP-ch 25.KxP!
Taking with the Pawn loses brilliantly after 25…Rxf3!! 26.PxR Re2-ch with a forced mate!
25…Qf5! 26.PxP Qg5-ch 27.Kh3!
Precise play! 27.Kh2? loses to 27…Re4!!
Now Black has nothing better than a perpetual check, which Raja obtained with
Raja Panjwani’s favourite game was his 6th round win over Victor Plotkin.
At first sight it is not obvious what is going on here as both sides are struggling to mobilize their passed pawns. However, Raja’s next move is a brilliant tactical resource that soon makes clear that White is infact much better in the position in the diagram.
Another nice win by Raja!
HOW THE HIGHEST 7-FIDE RATED PLAYERS DID AGAINST EACH OTHER
Half of the tournament was rated below 2200-FIDE, making the bottom half relatively weak. If we take a look at how the top 7-rated players scored against each other we will discover some interesting things.
Only Sambuev and Hansen played against everyone in the box above (6 games) and scored an impressive 4.5 points. Panjwani played 5 games, scoring 2 points. Gerzhoy, who finished in 2nd overall, only played 3 games and drew each one. This means that Gerzhoy gained his points against weaker opposition. As did Noritsyn–who played 2 and lost both. Samsonkin played 3 games and only made one draw. While Thavandiran only played 1 and lost it!
THE ”FUNNIEST” GAME OF THE TOURNAMENT
Well, it started as a serious game. GM Sambuev against IM Noritsyn from the 8th round. The following position appeared on the board after 9 book moves:
A popular line of the Advanced French…normal now is 10.Be2 or 10. Ra2 (Sveshnikov’s choice). The books write that White should not hurry to move his Knight (10.Nc3). However, Noritsyn must have been day-dreaming as he played
10.Nc3? and Sambuev quickly replied 10…Nxb4! winning a pawn
Curiously, many players fall into this trap! Should White now recapture the Knight then Black will take back with the Bishop and gain a significant advantage with the pin. There would be little to prevent Black from playing …Rc8 followed by Castling and brining in the other Rook to bear on c3.
Noritsyn wisely chose not to recapture but instead continued with his development , as though nothing had happened! He later put up enormous resistance and managed to fight back into a messy and probably equal game….then it was Sambuev’s turn to return the favour and blunder:
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 46th MOVE (46.Rb-b3):
Sambuev had sacrificed an exchange in the middlegame but it had not yielded the desired results…White’s pieces are all coordinated and defend against Black’s immediate threats. It is now time for Black to think of forcing a draw, and the experts tell us that 46…Qc2! was the right move. White would be obliged to play 47.Nxf4 and the game would soon end in a draw by force.
Instead, amazingly, Sambuev still thought of trying to win and in the process he overlooked that White actually has a threat in the position above! THE GAME CONTINUED:
46…Rc8?? 47.Rb-e3! winning a piece!!
Here Sambuev thought for a long time as he began to realize the full extent of the damage caused by his last move. Quite simply, he is lost! He found nothing better than 47…Qf5 but after 48.RxB! QxR 49.RxN he is a piece down and his King finds itself in an even worse position than White’s King…
But the comedy was not over yet! Just when it seemed that Noritsyn was well on his way to win the game, he makes an incredible halucination:
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 57th MOVE (57…e4):
Correct is the simple 58.Qf4. Instead Noritsyn thought he saw an even faster way to win:
No doubt Noritsyn had now planned to mate in 2 moves with 59.Nh5-ch!!! QxN 60.Qf6-mate! But now it suddenly dawned on him that his Knight is pinned! Quite simply, White now loses a whole Rook and with it the game!
MOST ”DUBIOUS” GAME OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP
(When is it better to lose than to draw?)
The last round game between the middle-aged Viktor Potkin (rated 2245 FIDE) and the teenager Arthur Calugar (rated 2210 FIDE) was one of the last games to finish and was decisive for determining who would get the IM-title and the 2 FM-titles that are by custom awarded at FIDE zonals.
Calugar had 5 points going into the game and a win would most probably mean that he would earn the IM-title (6/9 by FIDE regulations). Potkin, being a half point behind at 4.5 points had no chance for the IM-title even if he won, but a win would assure one of the FM-titles. A draw was useless to Potkin since in that case Calugar would get the FM-title before him!
So Potkin was playing the game for a win and as things happened soon out of the opening he had a superior position. But Calugar put up strong resistance and managed to slowly reduce his opponent’s winning chances. By move 53 it looked like the game should end in a draw….
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 52nd MOVE:
Here Calugar can win a pawn with 52…Qxh2, but after 53.Qc5! Qxg3 54.Qxa7-ch Qc7 55.Qa8! (with considerable counterplay, threatening to play the Queen over to the Kingside attacking the vulnerable Black pawns; and threatening to advance his own a-pawn) the most reasonable result seems like a draw. Calugar decided to prepare taking the h-pawn with 52…h5!?
Ofcourse, this does not change anything in the position as White maintained the balance by continuing with the logical 53.Qc5! and after the more or less forced moves 53…a6 54.Qa7-ch Ke6 55.Qa8 Kd7! 56.Qb7-ch Kd6! 57.Qb8-ch Kd7! 58. Qb7-ch Kd6! we reach the following the position in the following diagram:
It has been clear for a while now that White can has no winning chances at all and that a draw is the evident conclusion to what has otherwise been a tough struggle for both players. The position has already been repeated twice and White can now force a 3-fold repetition with another round of checks starting with 59.Qb8-ch.
However, by this time almost all of the other games had finished and since it was known that the first FM-title would go to Kleinman, the rest was easy to calculate. Curiously, a very unique set of circumstances suddenly arose :
As before, a draw would eliminate Potkin’s chances for the FM-title and instead Calugar would earn the title
And still a win would guarantee Potkin the 2nd FM-title, but seemed out of the question given the position
But now –amazingly– a loss by Potkin would give guarantee Potkin of atleast a playoff for the FM-title since Calugar would be given the IM-title, not the FM-title!
Faced with these very exceptional circumstances, Potkin all of a sudden found himself with the very pleasant option where he can forgo the logical and seemingly forced repetition of position and play on without risk of losing SINCE A LOSS WOULD BE JUST AS GOOD AS A WIN as far as earning the FM-title is concerned!!!!!
When I first played over this game, I found it difficult to understand White’s refusal to take the draw here (and later, on several occasions , as we shall see) and to play for a win when this seemed not only improbable but also much too risky! And to do so especially when it meant that such sloppy play would reward the opponent with an IM-title (such disrespect for the IM-title
!) However, it was only later that an eye-witness
explained the real situation that Potkin now faced
Potkin now chucks the draw and boldly playsed 59.Qf7 and ofcourse Black captured on f3: 59…Qxf3
Once more, White can force a perpetual check beginning with 60.Qf8-ch : 60…Ke6 61.Qc8-ch Kf7 62.Qd7-ch Kg8 63.Qe8-ch Kg7 64. Qf7-ch Kh6 65.Qf8-ch Kg5!?(trying to escape the perp) 66.Qc8! f5 (66…Qf5?! 67.Qxa6 gives White all the winning chances!) 67. Qd8-ch Kh6 only move to avoid mate! 68. Qh8-ch Kg5 69. Qd8-ch and so on.
INSTEAD, Potkin again threw caution to the wind: 60.Qxg6 Qf1!
Black now has serious threats (…Qa1-ch , winning the d-pawn)
Now once more White can force a draw with 61.Qe8! (the Black King can not run far) and after 61…Qa1-ch 62.Kb4 Qxd4-ch 63.Ka5 Qd2-ch (what else?) 64. Kxa6 the draw is becoming evident as soon Black will run out of checks and then it will be White’s turn!
Instead, once more not interested in saving the game, Potkin played the incredibly reckless (surprise, surprise) move 61. Qxh5? This allowed Black to seize the initiative and the advantage for the rest of the game by the obvious 61…Qa1-ch 62.Qb4 Qxd4-ch etc. The White Queen was not able to return in time to save the White monarch.
The final result is that Potkin lost and got his FM-title (it turned out to be unnecessary to have a play-off), while Calugar got his IM-title. The outrage is that Potkin was able to get his title by losing; drawing would not have been good enough!!
Ok, clearly Calugar had nothing to do with this, but in my day both players would have been forfeited. Such a disgraceful finish to an otherwise normal game should never be rewarded.
(Video courtesy of John Upper)
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS