Tuesday, February 9, 2016

MCC Championship Round 2

The best thing about the start of round 2 of the 2016 Melbourne Chess Club Championship last night, was the participation of IM Guy West. As well as being a former Australian Champion, Guy has won the Melbourne Chess Club Championship on multiple occasions. I'm not going to try to work out how many, but 11 or 12 is about the number of times he has won the title. So it was fitting to have him playing in this historic Championship in the 150th year of the club.

Playing on board 3, Guy had a bit of a scary game against Anthony Hain who sacrificed a piece for an attack. Guy defended accurately and won to go to 2/2. The player from the top seeds who didn't make it to 2/2 was second seed IM Ari Dale who was held to a draw by another talented junior, Bobby Yu. The 2 other IM's, James Morris and Mirko Rujevic joined Guy West on 2/2, along with 5 other players. Of course, with this being a 9 round tournament, a lot can happen and a slip up early on can be made up for later.

The second round saw some great play, with a wild King's Gambit of Fratzeskos-Ly probably being my choice of game of the night. James Watson proved yet again that his 1777 (1663 ACF) rating is grossly inaccurate with a draw against Marcus Raine. There were upset wins for Jodie Middleton, Joshua Culbert and Alex Jones while Adam Lovegrove's draw with Axel Ahmer was a great result.

My game was a long hard slog, but the end of it was very pleasing for me. In fact, I'm even tempted to enter it for the brilliancy prize, as it is probably the best ending I've played. By the way, congratulations to Justin Penrose for winning the MCC brilliancy prize of the year for 2015 which was announced before the start of the second round. I'd never had to play my opponent, Anandaram Jothibabu before, but he played a tough game in a sporting manner. The position of interest for me was in this endgame:

Playing white, I had won a pawn but the position has opposite bishops and there is no easy way to progress. So I went for the breakthrough 46.d4. Taking advantage of the offside position of black's king and knight, I thought to create a passed pawn. At this point I didn't have a victory in sight, but was playing more intuitively. I felt the risk was worth it, and that the worst that could happen was the game could end a draw. 46..cxd4 forced, more or less 47.Kd3 Ng2

Now comes the second breakthrough 48.c5. As well as creating a passed pawn, this move lets my king through on the light squares. 48..dxc5 I was a little concerned about 48..Ne3, but apparently white is doing well after 49.Bf3 when white's d-pawn will become a major force. 48..d6

Anandaram now came up with the amazing 49..c4! This is an absolutely stunning defence which takes c4 away from my king, and gives black enormous counterplay based on his own passed pawns. The position becomes very random! 49.bxc4 Nf4 If Anandaram would have pushed his b-pawn straight away, I honestly don't know how the game would have finished. Both sides have 2 passed pawns and neither king can do much to help. 50. Kd2 Ne6?

Unfortunately, this move loses, and even in the couple of minutes I had left on my clock I was able to calculate, though I'll admit not to the very end! 51.Bxe6 fxe6 52.d7 Bc7 53.Nc5

Black will now lose his bishop for the white d-pawn. The question is whether he can get his pawns rolling towards the other end to cause counterplay. 53..e5 That will be 3 black passed pawns that white will have to deal with 54.Ne6 Ba5 55.d8=Q Bxd8 56.Nxd8

At this point, after a short think, I could finally see clearly a way to win which is rather fortunate seeing black might be a tempo or 2 away from winning himself here. 56..e4 57.Nc6 Kxg5 58.Nxd4 Kf4 59.Ke2 The plan was to block the e-pawn with the king, put the knight on b3 to block black's b-pawn, while supporting white's pawn which will sit on c5. Black can do nothing to stop this. 59..e3 60.Nb3 Ke4 61.c5

Black is clearly lost now, he must abandon his e-pawn to prevent white's pawn from promoting and then can merely sit and wait for white's forces to take his other pawn and then aid to promote the final white c-pawn.

Brilliant? Maybe not, but it was creative, intuitive, and technically sound, and a joy to play as my opponent found some remarkable defensive ideas. Here's the endgame in a viewer with some notes. I haven't fully analysed it yet, as I haven't had time and would value any feedback of ideas for either side.

1 comment: