It seems like all the Class A guys in New Hampshire have faced GM Alexander Ivanov at one point or another, yet despite all the open sections I’ve played in, it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that it was my turn. What follows is my first game against a grandmaster, albeit in G/25 with 5 second delay.
Technically, I lost on time in the final position, but it was over anyway with that knight dropping. At least I kept moving during time trouble. (In my last round game, I let the final minute or so drain off my clock in search of the best plan.)
I’m fairly pleased with my effort — especially after blundering a pawn in the opening! 22…Kh8 looks like a definite improvement, not allowing the tempo gaining check on e6, and I like to think I could have drawn the ending somehow with more time, but all-in-all a good showing.
This weekend, I competed in my state’s chess championship. I’ll tell the story in two parts, because the full results are not yet posted and I didn’t stick around to watch all the games complete.
The field in the open was small, but very strong. The New Hampshire players were outnumbered by visitors, mostly from Massachusetts, including GM Alexander Ivanov and IM Igor Foygel. Also represented was California, and there was even an international flare with Denys Shmelov from the Ukraine, as well as my last round opponent, here in the states while studying in New York. The good news is they don’t qualify for the title.
My last serious game was against Curdo, final round of the Queen City Open in February. Caissa must have a good sense of humor because John was first up here too. Certainly a better pairing than my usual debut matchup versus Braden Bournival or fellow New Hampshirite Sherif Khater’s draw, which saw him battling top-seed Ivanov. While I feel I do well against Curdo, I’ve yet to nick him for more than a draw, and this time was no different. He easily took advantage of my sloppy play and coasted to victory with the Black pieces.
No, you won’t see that one here.
In between rounds, I checked in to the hotel room, which I think I could’ve actually got for free! Well, probably not, but here’s why I say that. You know those room rate cards they have you sign, the one where you provide your license plate, initial the rate and signature your commitment to pay for any damages? Mine showed a rate of $0.00/night. Of course, I corrected her and a new card was printed with the $80 group rate (+$6.40 taxes). My question to the lawyers in the house is how binding is this little contract in reverse? If I’d signed the original, would they have been obligated to comp me the room gratis?
Lunch was another travel idea I was trying out. The night before, I’d cooked up a batch of kidney beans, split it up into four sizeable portions, and froze overnight in freezer bags. I didn’t bother bringing the hot plate, so had the first log-shaped serving as a “bean popsicle.” As the weekend went on the others thawed to a more familiar consistency. I also packed the now standard gallon-sized bags of greens, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, onion, garlic, etc.. As well as fruits, a banana per game, plus randomly consumed apples, oranges, and berries. Oh yeah, and a few squares of 100% cacao and a mini (6 oz) bottle of red wine. This latter worked out well, as it doesn’t require cooler space as beer does.
OK, OK, show me some analysis already!
Seeing as the blog was featured in the latest NH Chess Journal, where it was remarked that you could discover what all those weird things Erin’s always eating at tournaments are, I just had to share. Which leads me to a tip about over-the-board food. I find bananas and chocolate to be perfect; they’re energizing and QUIET! Sure, I’ve brought little baggies of roasted soynuts before, but I make sure to leave the room to munch them. Crinkly bags of chips and loud crunching are no-no’s, and yet there’s inevitably someone who seems not to notice the ruckus he’s causing with his impolite snacking. I won’t name any names. The rest of us know who you are.
Round 2. All the favorites had won their first games as expected, save for Brad who was unexpectedly held to a draw (we’ll see how I fared against the same potential spoiler in Part 2). So, now, with the crosstable split in half by rating, I was pared against a teenager only 100 points higher. It was to be my only game as Black and my only win!
Perhaps not a spotless game, but I’m really proud of this effort due to its fighting nature and extremely difficult defense. It took almost the entire six hours allotted and pushed dinner to 10 PM. The game with Curdo had been the first to complete in the Open section. I believe this was the last in the 2nd round. There was another board still going in the room housing the upper boards, but I think they were in the U1900 section.
As early as move 7, I was already tempted by the idea of …h5-h4, but restrained myself from playing it immediately in order to complete development first. That is, except for castling! This proved to be just as dangerous for my king as his.
Amazingly enough, the theoretical novelty in this game isn’t 13.e5, as I would’ve predicted, but rather his recapture. 14.Ne4 had been previously played to a win by a nearly 2400.
After move 17.Qa4+, see if you can answer why the natural 17…Qd7, protecting king and a-pawn simultaneously, would be a blunder.
Highlight between the brackets for the answer.
[18.Nf6+ Bxf6 19.Bc6]
28…Bc5 was a pretty move to me as 30.Rxc5 Rxb2 31.Qd4?? could be answered by 31…Rxg2+ 32.Kxg2 Bc6+ winning the queen. 31.Qc3 is better, with the same fork idea, but it too meets with 31…Rxg2+ 32.Kxg2 Qa8+ and Black has an attack.
Around move 35 and 36, White had much better by uncoordinating the optimally placed Black pieces by a7 followed by g4. 35…Kd6 was too crazy, and I knew it. 35…Be6 should’ve been played immediately. Once I got it in, the advantage was not to see-saw again, though the way to the finish line was by no means easy.
My opponent got in terrible time trouble, having to play moves 30-40 in six minutes. He had only fifteen seconds on his clock when he reached the control. He then spent 34 minutes on his forty-first move and again had just two and half left when he resigned (I had under 30). I thought he was going to resign right there, and I had a brief panic when he came up with 41.Rh4. My reply was another aesthetically pleasing find for me. I was very happy with it. See if you can find the full line after, say, 41…Rxh4! 42.Rxe5.
Highlight between the brackets for the answer.
[42...Rh1+ 43.Kf2 R8h2+ 44.Ke3 Re1+! 45.Qxe1 Qxe5+]
Finally, I’ll say I also liked that I sought a more favorable queen trade than the one available at move 51. Frankly, it was tinged with a little uncertainty as to whether the two queenside pawns could be stopped. So, I kept the queens on until I could pick up the b-pawn with tempo.