Friday, January 3, 2014

Double Rounds

The 2014 Australian Chess Championship is an 11 round tournament, but these games are going to be played over 9 days which means that 2 of the days will have double rounds. There are a lot of negative factors about double rounds in a day. Preparation time is minimal for the second game, and it is a huge amount of mental energy playing perhaps 10 hours of chess in one day. This can have an affect on the next day too, in terms of tiredness and lack of preparation. However, it is the same for everyone and a good day can give momentum to a player, and really boost confidence, while a bad day can have the adverse affect.

Cheng-Choong Rd 1. What did white play? Answer at the end

I was just spectating, coaching and generally schmoozing and I became tired after about 8 hours at the playing venue so the players have my total sympathy. I didn't stay for the completion of the 3rd round, and unfortunately missed the incident when a bird decided to crap on the board of visiting GM Tu from Vietnam. Apparently the incident caused quite a bit of interest for a while with a crowd gathering around the board. In the end the game continued between Tu and the 2013 Oceania Zonal winner IM Igor Bjelobrk ended in a draw. This was in the third round. Earlier in the day, all 3 Grandmasters won in the second round. Vasily Papin of Russia looks to be in very good form and he won against FM Chris Wallis. He is joined on 2/2 by IM Bobby Cheng (yay for my prediction, though it's early days yet), IM Gary Lane, and IM Stephen Solomon. (Watching live now, I see that Papin beat Lane to go to 3/3 while Cheng Solomon is in progress) The pack on 1.5 included both the other GM's Johansen and Tu. The games can be downloaded from the site and are being uploaded pretty quickly (I helped with some Reserves games today, so they may come online soon!)

The h3 Nxf2 Round 

The following 2 positions caught my attention because the same moves happened in them. White thought that a knight on g4 needed to be kicked away with a little pawn move. Unfortunately, the knight didn't need to go back!
 This was a tragedy for IM Igor Goldenberg who had dominated this game. 18.h3 is pretty much forced, but I'm guessing Igor and any spectators watching expected the knight to retreat to f6. That is not FM Eddy Levi's style though. 18..Nxf2!?. There followed 19.Qxd7 Bc5 when the following position was reached:
White is a piece down, but the position is very difficult with 4 black pieces looking in the direction of white's king. White blundered here with 20.Kg2? [Apparently 20.Ne6 attacking the bishop on c5 and threatening mate on g7 was a winning move, but it is a scary position so I don't blame anyone for getting it wrong, even an IM] 20..h6 [Removing the defender from f3 so black's queen can come into the attack with check] 21.Nce4 hxg5 22.Nxc5 Qf3+ 23.Kh2 Rad8! [Deflecting white's queen from protecting g4] 24.Qxd8
24..Ng4+! 25.hxg4 Qe2+ and white had to resign as he loses his rook with check and then his queen.

The next game which featured the moves h3 Nxf2 was between Gareth Charles and IM Gary Lane.
In this position, the move 16.h3 is bad because it allows black to win a mass of pawns for the piece. 16..Nxf2 17.Qe1 [This knight looks trapped, but...] 17..Nxh3+ [This is why 16.h3 was a bad move] 18.Kh2 Nf2 19.Kg1
Black is already 2 pawns up, so letting the knight go for some more pawns isn't a tough decision. 19..Qxd3 20.Rxf2 Rxf2 21.Kxf2 Qxc4 and black has 4 pawns for the piece with a mighty mobile centre, and white's king is exposed in the bargain. He went on to win about 10 moves later.

The Reserves and Challengers also have to play 2 games today. There weren't too many draws in either of these events, which left large groups tied for first, 13 players on 2/2 in the Reserves, and 11 in the Challengers.

Cheng-Choon: Bobby as white played 16.Bb5!? taking advantage of his lead in development. The piece sac may not be 100% sound but it is a great practical decision, forcing his opponent to make a lot of difficult decisions to stay alive, which Choong wasn't quite up to. Check out the game below.

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