Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Edmonton International - Side Event #2 - Lazaro Bruzon Simul

Lazaro Bruzon of Cuba is the highest rated player in the International tournament, just ahead of Nigel Short by a few points.  Twenty-two players took on the challenge of trying to take a point from the grandmaster.

Early in the opening phase.  (notice the high rated spectator)

Nigel Short strolling around the boards.

I make my move 7...Ngf6


...after a few seconds...

...and he replies


My game.  I noted the time of every move.  You can see the first moves took about 4 min for Lazaro to make it around the room.  Then it was up to 15 min and as players dropped out he was coming around every minute or two.

When I finished there was one game remaining.  They placed a clock with 10 minutes next to the board and the game continued. The young junior Lenard Grossman lasted the longest but he quickly lost a piece and was down to a lone king within minutes.

The last game to finish.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Edmonton International - Side Event #1 - Nigel Short Lecture

The Nigel Short lecture was well attended with players ranging from age 10 to 70.  Like all good chess players he was a couple of minutes late.  His excuse was that he had taken a half hour nap at his hotel and didn't wake up until 4 hours later.  He was still a bit jet lagged having just arrived from Tanzania!?.  He had found that tournament on Facebook and decided to try playing in East Africa.  I think he holds the record for winning tournaments in the most countries.  Maybe he's trying to make sure nobody beats his record.

Assembled crowd waiting for GM Short

Micah Hughey introducing the Star

Short was awarded his Trophy for winning last years tourney

Lecture (after 10...g6)
At the critical position (prior to 15...d5)

His lecture was about a game from the previous tournament prior to the one in Tanzania.  His opponent was Loek Van Wely and the tournament was the 21st Sigeman & Co in Malmo, Sweden.  I found the game in chessgames.com and tried to annotate it with what I remembered from the lecture.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I was gone on vacation for a couple of weeks so I will comment now about the Candidates tournament. It was exciting and unpredictable to say the least. Carlson was the favorite and won in the end but not without being pushed to the finish. Some people are saying that Carlson showed weaknesses in his opening preparation and his nerves under pressure that could be exploieted by Anand in the world championship but I think he is just to strong and will still win.  His openings my not be as strong but his middle game and endgame more than make up for that. His domination in tournament play over the last two years demonstrate that he can handle pressure.

I must admit I was cheering for Ivanchuk throughout the tournament just because he is so unpredictable. Losing 5 games on time and then beating the two leaders in the final rounds is typical for him.  Kramnik and Svidler also impressed me.  Aronian had a great start but a horrible finish and must be disappointed  Gelfand did better than I expected him to do.

I haven't played much over the last month and don't have much interest either but I am thinking of entering the Calgary International Reserves next month so I better start playing soon if I want to continue improving my play and rating

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Capablanca Classic

The March of Kings tournament is taking place this weekend in Calgary.  I was planning on playing in it and expecting to get at least 1 FIDE rated opponent so that I would complete the nine games needed to get an official FIDE rating.  My wife and kids had Thursday and Friday off from school, so I took the two days off work.  We planned to go down to Banff and do some skiing.  Then we could stop off in Calgary for two days for some chess and shopping.  Wednesday night “we” changed our minds and decided to go to the West Edmonton mall instead.  Oh well, I guess I will just have to wait to get my FIDE rating. 

While I was in Edmonton I remembered their regular Thursday night tournaments, so I went down to the Chess Club hoping to get a rated game in.  I paid my $5 and was paired against Rob Gardner (2340) on board 2 for the first round of the Capablanca Classic which continues throughout March.  I played a good game and was able to draw!  Rob is now the highest rated person I ever was able to score a half point against.  If the game was FIDE rated I would now have an official FIDE rating of 2002!!, but unfortunately they don’t FIDE rate their weekly tournaments.  I should get a boost to my CFC rating to ~1930 when the tournament is completed and rated at the end of the month.

The Edmonton Championship final playoff games were taking place at the same time between IM Edward Porper and IM Richard Wang.  This created some excitement near my game.  First they played two rapid games with 25 min w/ 10 sec increments.  In game 1 Richard was down a pawn in a 2 B’s vs 2 B’s endgame but refused a draw only to lose.  In game 2 Richard came back and won with the white pieces.  Then they played blitz games with 10 min w/ ? sec increments.  In the end it was …….IM Proper

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Two Steps Up, One step back

I had been very optimistic about my chess recently.  In addition to feeling I was playing better OTB, my online blitz rating had broken through the 2000 barrier, my CFC rating reached a new high of 1916, and I am on the verge of getting an official FIDE rating that will likely be somewhere between 1925 and 2025, depending on my next FIDE rated game.  Ivan Wijetunge has an interesting blog called “Getting to 2000”, about his struggle to achieve this milestone as an adult player.  It has also been one of my goals since I started playing rated chess as a teenager many, many years ago.  I originally hoped to achieve it by the year 1988, which happened to be my cfc#, but It was impossible to do on PEI at the time when my average opponent was only 1600.  The way I have been playing recently, I was beginning to think it might actually happen this year.   

Then I went into Edmonton last weekend and played in the University Battle of Alberta.  The tournament was an unrated ten round active tournament over two days.  There were teams from U of Alberta, U of Calgary, and U of Lethbridge, but it was also open to all non-university players.  The time control was game/ 25 min with 5 second increments.  I thought it would be a good chance to get 6 games in on Saturday and I was hoping for a good result. I’ll post some positions and and let the reader decide for themselves what my level of play was.
Game 1 was against an unrated player.  After 29...c5 I played 30. Rf5? missing that cxb5 31 Rxb4 cxb3+ 32.Kxc3 axb5 loses a pawn.  I was still able to win the game,

Game 2 I was paired against 14 year old IM and future GM Richard Wang (2475).  Richard gave me a chance when he didn't take my Knight before sacking his bishop with 15. Bxh5.  I should have played Nd3+ and then taken on b2 but I thought my N would get trapped.  Instead I played 15...f4 and forced 16.Bxc5 and after that Richard continued his attack and won as expected.
Game 3 was against unrated Login McLeod who played 16.Nxg4?  I replied 17.Ndf3? which loses.  17.Ndf5! wins because it doesn't block the Q from getting to h5 and after Nxf2 creating threats for white.  I don't blame myself too much for this move though because it is not that easy to see.

Game 4 was against David Yao.  I played 13...e4! (diagram) and after 14.fxg6 I played 14...hxg6? instead of 14...exf3!  I was still able to win the game.

Game 5 was against Armine Arzumanyan (1600).  I had the game under control when she played 30...Rxc1.  I should have played 31.Qxc1 and won easily but instead I played 31.Rxc1? which loses to 31...Re2! 32.Qb4 Rxg2+ 33.Kxg2 Qxd5.

Game 6 was against an unrated player ? Zhang.  After he played 10...Nxe4 I played 11.Bxa8? instead of 11.fxe4!  The game was full of blunder on both sides.  I made the last blunder when I lost a piece with 10 sec left on my clock but won when he misshit his clock with 2 seconds left and his time ran out.

After game 6 I drove back to Lloyd.  I had told the TD that I wouldn't play rounds 7-10 before the tournament started.  I probably played at a 1500 ??

Saturday, February 16, 2013

2013 Northern Alberta Open

I played in the Northern Alberta Open this weekend.

Round 1
I took a bye in round 1 so that I wouldn't have to get up early to make the 2.5 hr drive into Edmonton or spend Friday night in a hotel.  0.5/1

Round 2
One of the advantages of taking a half point bye in round 1 should be that a player like me in the middle won't have to play an IM or beginner in the first round and in round 2 should be paired with lowest rated winner or highest rated loser from round 1 - either way it should be someone close to my rating.  But in this tournament FM Vladimir Pechenin (2439) also took a bye in round 1, so I was paired with him in round 2.  He played the French Defense and I played a very good game.  I had the better position until move 27 when I missed a tactic.  Even after that Vlad didn't play completely accurately and showed me after the game where I had a winning move on move 30 (see position below and find White's winning move!).  I missed it and played an inferior move that left me behind.  After that Vlad converted his advantage and I resigned after the 40th move.  We were the last game to finish and were both down to under 2 min on the clock.  0.5/2

After 29...Ng5.  White to play - what is the correct move?

Round 3
Paired against Carlita Romero, an unrated player from 10 hrs north of Edmonton. I played the French Defense !? and was able to get a big advantage in the opening and won quite easily in about an hour.  After the game I started calling hotels looking for a room but was having little success.  It seems there was a concert, a hockey game and a wine festival in Edmonton this holiday weekend.  I considered driving home and returning in the morning but eventually found a hotel in Nisku (a half hour away).  1.5/3

Round 4
My stay in the trucker hotel was interesting, with the the wafting scent of mary-jane through the ventilation, the ringing of the VLT's and blackjack tables and the "peelerz" all under the same roof.  I got to the chess club 15 min before the start of the round and was sitting at the board at 10 AM and made my first move 1. e4.  Then I waited for an hour for my opponent (an unrated player) who never showed up.  It was bad enough to be paired twice in a row against an unrated player but then for the player to not show up made it worse.  I was hoping to have at least 3 good games against FIDE rated players this tournament, but now that is impossible.  2.5/4

Round 5
In my final round I was hoping to be paired against another one of the players sitting at 2.5, which would probably be a 2100 player, but since there were 7 players with 2.5 and I was the lowest rated,  I got paired down to play against Bill Bentley.  He played the French so that makes it a clean sweep for the opening in my games at this tournament.  I didn't play the opening very well and Bill decided to close the center with c4.  After that I was able to create something on the kingside but my pieces always seemed to be in each others way.  I turned down a draw but after all the major pieces were traded I didn't see any way to make progress so I offered a draw and he accepted.  3/5

A summary of the Tourney Can be found on the Alberta Chess Association website here. I ended up tying for the Best under 2000 prize and winning $40.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Red Deer Open

I played in the Red Deer Open last weekend.  I had to travel to Calgary for meetings on Monday so I was able to go down one day early and play.  I left home at 8:30 AM on Saturday, drove for 4.5 hours, had some lunch, and was ready for round 2 at 2 PM.

My round 2 game was as black against an unrated opponent Harry Peralta.  It was his first tournament but he was obviously a strong player tactically.  He had beaten Bill Bently (1859) in round 1 and finished with 3/5 and will probably have an initial rating of close to 1900.  He made a mistake in the opening that I should have seen and have been winning after 4 moves but I missed it.  Then I just played passively and badly and had a hopelessly cramped position.  Luckily he made a mistake while playing quickly and I was able to equalize and then sac some pawns to free myself then force a checkmate.  1.5/2.

My round 3 game was as white against Adam Harris (1772).  I tried to play a Closed Sicilian too aggressively and Adam was able to force the exchange of pawns in the center.  After that it was an open Sicilian and he played the position much better than me and eventually won.  After the game it was obvious talking with him that he had a lot of theoretical knowledge on the Sicilian lines.  He had a great tournament beating the top rated Vlad Rekson (2189) in round 1 and finishing with 3.5/5 with a bye and should gain many points.  1.5/3.

My round 4 game was as white against Neyef Daher (1804).  It was an even game throughout until we got down to a same color bishop and pawns endgame.  I turned down two draw offers and pressed on until he made a mistake.  I was able to win a pawn and then two and won soon after.  2.5/4.

My round 5 game was as black against Aaron Sequillion (2080) who was having a good tournament and tied for 1st with 3.5/4.  I have played Aaron before and was surprised when he played 1.d4.  We played a Kings Indian and I ended up with the better position after the opening.  After that the game went back and forth several times and was very tactical.  My king was completely exposed but I was up a pawn.  Near the end he had a completely won position but we both missed the winning move.  The computer says that it was a draw on the last move when Aaron blundered his Rook into a mate in 2.

So I finished with 3.5/5 and tied for second with Aaron Sequillion and Adam Harris.  Lukas Beaudry won with 4.5/5.  Itohan Gold, Atheer Jawad and Harry Peralta had 3/5.  This was probably my best result but I felt that I missed a lot at the board.  I feel I played better in my last tournament than this one overall but only scored better because luck was with me and not against me – then again there is no luck in chess.