Thursday, July 23, 2009

Canadian Open - Look Back

Well the Canadian Open has now been rated and, as I expected, I lost a bunch of points. I had estimated I would lose over 50 but it ended up being only 41. I guess I hadn’t accounted for participation points. You can click on this link to see the cross table. Several people had outstanding tournaments including co-winner IM Proper, Jonaton Tayer, etc. Several others (including myself) were disappointed with their results.

One of the complaints about the tournament that has come up lately was the complete lack of GM and IM Norm possibilities available at the tournament. This opportunity is a major attraction to higher rated players when they are considering whether to enter a tournament. Two decisions by the organizers affected the possibilities of norms being achieved: First the tournament was 9 rounds and not 10 rounds; and secondly they decided not to use accelerated pairings in the first two rounds. There are advantages and disadvantages to both of these decisions.

Years ago the Open used to be ten or eleven rounds with two rounds on some days but it has been reduced to 9 rounds lately. The current organizers decided to stick to the 9 round format. With only one round per day it produces a more relaxed schedule and allows for more side activities such as simuls, lectures, blitz and bughouse tournaments.

Accelerated pairings ensure that the high rated players play against other high rated players more often and thus are more likely to have at least 7 opponents who are FIDE rated as is required for norms. They can though cause even more volatility in pairings for middle ranked players in the middle rounds. By not using accelerated pairing it gave more average players, like me, an opportunity to play against one of the star GM’s and IM’s. This might have been an incentive for some average players to sign up but I’m not sure if that small benefit made up for the loss of Norm seekers who were discouraged from participating.

My recommendation would be to go back to having a 10 round tournament and have two rounds on the second day of the tournament. This should allow norm and still give ‘patzers’ their moment of glory. On day two the rating differences are usually still great enough that the top GM shouldn’t have two much of a struggle knocking off their challengers. If future organizers insist on sticking to the 9 round format then I believe accelerated pairings must be used. Otherwise their will be a lot of strong players who might wonder if it is worth their while to play.

I’ve had some time now to reflect back on my play during the tournament and I see that I did play rather well for a good portion of most of the games. The only game where I feel I was completely outclassed was round 1 against IM Quan, and that is to be expected. In the other two games I lost against higher rated opponents I achieved a reasonable position but then missed tactical shots that destroyed my position. In my 6 games against lower rated opponents I always achieved superior positions but then in all but two of the games lost focus and let my advantage slip away. There were times when I became bored and seemed too lazy to bother calculating and assumed that if I just played logical moves that I would turn my advantage into a win. Right now I’m at a loss as to how I can fix this defect in my game.

I had three goals coming to Edmonton. One was to play many different openings and in fact I did play a different opening in every game. This may seem like a foolish goal to have, as one should probably focus on one or two core openings, but I don’t think this strategy hurt me during the tournament as I did not have any really bad opening positions. If I was doing better in the tournament I might not have followed this strategy as much but when I was having poor results I felt I had nothing to lose. My other two goals were to score at least 50% and to perform above 1900. I felt they were modest goals that were achievable but of course I did not come close to achieving either.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Canadian Open - Day 9

The final round saw exciting battles on the top 7 boards to decide who would be the Canadian Open Champion.

1 GM Alexei Shirov (6.5) - GM Eugene Perelshteyn (6.5) (0.5 - 0.5)

2 IM Irina Krush (6.5) - GM Michael Adams (6.5) (0.5 - 0.5)

3 IM Edward Porper (6.5) - GM Surya Ganguly (6.5) (1 - 0)

4 FM Theo Hommeles (6.5) - GM Mark Bluvshtein (6.5) (0 - 1)

5 FM Jonathan Tayar (6.5) - GM Xue Zhao (6) (0.5 - 0.5)

6 FM John C Yoos (6) - FM Eric Hansen (6) (1 - 0)

7 Victor Plotkin (6)- GM Hua Ni (5.5) (0 - 1)

So in the end it is Canadian GM Bluvshtein and new Edmontonian IM Proper who are 2009 Canadian Open Champions!!!

I played former CFC Prez, and new Treasurer, Maurice Smith and my game included two bad mistakes by me. I played the Sicilian and blitzed out the first dozen moves rather quickly even though we varied from the main theory quite early. I could have won a pawn at this point but played the wrong move so we remained quite even. Then I gradually took control and had a dominating position when I made one of my worst blunders. I wasn’t even thinking about what he might be threatening and moved my king to f1 and allowed him to capture on f2 with a check and fork my bishop. It should have cost me the game but he couldn’t find a way to win. He gave up his bishop to try to get a mate with the two rooks but when that wasn’t possible he conceded a draw. If I was him I would have played on because he definitely could have won a pawn or two and then pressed for a win.

In the tournament as a whole, my performance was horrible (Rp=1718) and I should drop about 50 points based on my results. Two of my opponents were provisionally rated so the actual numbers might be slightly different. I will probably make an entry later in more detail later on my mistakes.

Overall the quality of the tournament was excellent and the organizers should be very proud. Everything went off without a hitch, or at least that’s how it seemed to an average player like me. The rounds started on time; the facility was excellent, and all the players behaved with sportsmanship. It has been over 20 years since I last participated in a Canadian Open and even though I didn’t perform well, I enjoyed myself, and might consider doing it again.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Canadian Open - Day 8

The four leaders with 6/7 points met on the top two boards today and the result was a draw on both boards.

1 GM Mark Bluvshtein - GM Alexei Shirov 0.5 - 0.5

2 GM Michael Adams - IM Edward Porper 0.5 - 0.5

That gave the ten players tied a half point back a chance to grab a share of the lead and each and every one of the games were decisive.

3 GM Hua Ni - FM Theo Hommeles 0 - 1
4 GM Surya Ganguly - IM Zhe Quan 1 - 0
5 IM Artiom Samsonkin - FM Jonathan Tayar 0 - 1
6 GM Eugene Perelshteyn - GM Anton Kovalyov 1 - 0
7 IM Dmitry Zilberstein - IM Irina Krush. 0 - 1

That leaves 9 players tied for the lead going into the last round! Should be interesting. Here are the pairings for tomorrow:

1 GM Alexei Shirov (6.5) - GM Eugene Perelshteyn (6.5)
2 IM Irina Krush (6.5) - GM Michael Adams (6.5)
3 IM Edward Porper (6.5) - GM Surya Ganguly (6.5)
4 FM Theo Hommeles (6.5) - GM Mark Bluvshtein (6.5)
5 FM Jonathan Tayar (6.5) - GM Xue Zhao (6)
6 FM John C Yoos (6) - FM Eric Hansen (6)
7 Victor Plotkin (6)- GM Hua Ni (5.5)

After my loss yesterday I dropped to board 67 and was paired against Kristof Amudson (1601). I wanted a win really badly so I played the Kings gambit. Neither of us played the opening very well but I emerged with an advantage and eventually won a pawn. I desperately tried to hang on to my extra pawn so that I could win in the endgame and in doing so put both my rooks in passive position and then put my king on a precarious square with mating threats all around. I could not find a way out and had to give up the exchange and soon after he won a couple of pawns and forced a trade of the remaining pieces. End result I lost. I'm going to lose quite a few points this week.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Canadian Open - Day 7

Another quick game today but unlike yesterday this one was not in my favour. My opponent was Brad Willis (2072). I prepared all day to play the Sicilian but he opened with 1.d4. I didn't play the opening very well and had to give my self doubled isolated 'e' pawns but my position still looked very drawable. We reached a critical point but I didn't give it the time it deserved, plus I completely miscalculated a fairly simple position. I probably could have saved the game if I gave up my N for two passed pawns but instead I saved my N but gave him 3 passed pawns that were unstoppable. Right now I have no idea what I was thinking for those several moves and I'm very disappointed in my play. My performance during the whole tournament has been less than I hoped.

The top board tonight saw maybe the most important game so far. The French Defense of the sole leader, GM Ganguly, was demolished by Shirov.

GM Adams defeated GM Zhao to join Shirov at the lead.
Board 2 saw a draw between GM Ni and Kovalyov.

Canada's GM Bluvshtein defeated FM Panjwani and Alberta's IM Proper defeated GM Mikhalevski to also join the leaders at 6/7.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Canadian Open - Day 6

The day was supposed to start with a trip to the Klondike Days Parade with the family but I slept in, and then with the traffic and parking problems plus not knowing my way around the city we never made it. I was not too disappointed as I hate standing around watching parades anyway, but I think I will have some making up to do. It was nice to finally have a good night of sleep.

Today I was paired with Philip Santelices (1629). I played 1.d4 and was pretty happy with the way the opening went. He traded his 'c' pawn for my 'd' pawn and then I was able to apply pressure down the 'd' file. After 14...b4 we reached the following position and I saw that if I traded of on b4 and then took the Night on f6 I could ignore the pin and play 17.Nd5! He played 17...BxQd2 and made the game easy for me but if he took the N with 17...exd5 I would have a very strong position and his pawns would be horrible.

Other games this evening include:

Alberta's IM Proper on board 1 vs. GM Shirov.

Sask's Keith MacKinnon on board 7 vs. GM Zhoa.

China's Ni vs. Canada's GM Bluvshtein.

My game ended early tonight so I don't know any results. Here is Cheif Arbitrator Vlad and Alberta's True "Road Warrior" Roy Yearwood. Notice Vlad is wearing his own jacket today.

Canadian Open - Day 5

It was a good day for young Canadian masters. First Fm Eric Hansen won the blitz championship beating out a couple of Grandmasters and IM's. This is not a complete surprise as I hear his online blitz rating is over 2700. I guess he is hoping for the triple play by winning the bughouse, blitz and regular tournament.

In the regular tournament two young Saskatchewan players scalped IM's today. Keith MacKinnon (2241) beat IM Mulyar (2440) and Kevin Me (2124) beat IM Piasetski (2404).

At the top boards there were more GM clashes and other exiting games.

One of the most exciting games was the 137 move marathon between FM Michael Langer and GM Xue Zhao. At one point Zhao borrowed the arbitrators jacket because she was shivering with the air conditioner on.

My game was disappointing. I was playing against Ken Frier. His rating is 1450 but it is only provisional and he did draw with a master in his second round. I played a lifeless opening and reached an equal middle game. At one point I had to choose between trading my bishop for his night into a dead drawn position or take some risks to try to create winning chances. I chose the later and he missed the proper refutation so I reached a winning position with a pawn up and a B vs. his N with pawns on both sides, but I couldn't find the winning plan. In the position below I played 51...Bg5 to protect the f pawn when I should have went after the knight with 51...Ka4. End result was a draw.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Canadian Open - Day 4

Once again the day started out with a shopping excursion through the City Center Mall. The kids had to find a specific Playstation and Wii game but despite endless searching we were unable to find them. They were able to find something else to spend Daddy's money on. I stopped by the tournament room to check out the Bughouse event but was surprised by the low turnout. Some people were scared away but the $20 entry fee. I had no intention to play as I find this chess variant rather confusing. I believe Eric Hansen and Dale Hasseal won the event. Here is a pic of them warming up before the event.

Round 4

The first battle of GM's took place with Shirov vs Zhao (draw)

I thought Eric Hansen had a good position against GM Mikhalevski but he ended up losing.

I was paired up against a WIM, Alisa Melekhina (2315) in this round. I think I played my best game of the tournament up until I stopped calculating tactics near the end. I tried to book up on her but surprisingly I could find few games. She played 1...b6 so my prep was useless and so I tried to play basic opening moves, control the center, develop pieces, etc. I think I had the better position into the middle game. We reached a position with a closed center and she was trying to break through on the Queenside. I thought I could temporarily sac my 'a' pawn and give her doubled 'a' pawns and then later on win back at least one of her pawns. If I could grab the second I thought I would have winning chances. At this point we were getting close to the time control and I was relying more on positional analysis rather than calculating tactics and unfortunately I missed a nice tactical shot she had available. She gave up her 'a' pawn but when I took it she won an exchange and left me in a horrible position. Soon she forced the exchange of queens and won my knight. I enjoyed the game even though I lost.

Game to follow:

4 GM's and one FM remain perfect with 4/4 followed by a bunch of players at 3.5.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Canadian Open - Day 3

I had a hard time going to sleep last night after my game, wondering how I let it slip away and to make matters worse today I realized that I wasn't in time trouble during the game like I thought. The time control is 40 moves/90min then another 30 min for the game with 30 sec increments. I thought it was game in 90 min with increments. If I realized that last night I would have not rushed my queen exchange and might of won instead of drawn.

Today for me started with swimming with the kids at McEwan Colledge and shopping at Kingsway Mall. After that I was able to take in GM Mark Bluvshtein's lecture on endgames. I really enjoyed it. The annual AGM of the CFC started today also but although I was curious what would happen I didn't take that in.

Some of the top boards

Shirov won over Piasetski but Pechenkin managed to draw Adams!

Hansen beat MacKinnon for the seventh straight time.

Kovalyov beat Haynes.

I played Zhonlin Huang, a young kid who played much better than his rating (1515) or age would indicate. I made a mistake when I tried to force something on move 32. I saw the correct reply right after I made my move, but luckily he did not, and I was able to win a pawn and then converted the bishop vs. knight endgame.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Canadian Open - Day 2

The morning started with the simul against England's GM, Michael Adams (2699). I asked Jamin what he played just before the simul started and Jamin said Adams plays everything but mostly 1.e4. Sure enough as he went down the line making his first move it was mostly e4 with an occasional d4 of Nf3. I was hoping for e4 but got d4 instead. I thought about playing the same gambit I played yesterday against the IM but instead I decided to play something more reliable. Rybka says I was equal for the first 12 moves and then gradually he started to get an advantage. His advantage stayed within a pawn until I missed a good move on move 25. I thought I saw a good unexpected tactical reply where I would delay recapturing until after I played it and he immediately played the winning move which attacked my queen and won the piece. I played one more move and resigned on move 27. Overall he had 26 wins and 1 draw. Irina Krush played a simul at the same time and won all of her 12? games.

Round 2
My opponent was Howard Du from Nova Scotia. I couldn't prepare anything as I had no idea what he played so we visited some friends in the afternoon. When the round started he played 1...b6 and somehow we ended up in a Queens Indian Defense. I had to spend a lot of time in the opening but ended up winning a pawn and having a good attack down the open h file. Rybka says I had a 1.5 advantage but he had some counter play. With less than 15 min left I saw a way to force a trade of queens and I thought I could grind down a victory but it was a big mistake and suddenly I was losing. He won back his pawn and now his passed pawn was stronger than mine. We both had rooks but my bishop was bad vs. his good knight. I struggled for some time wondering if I could draw. He couldn't get too adventurous with his knight or my passed pawn would threaten to queen but I felt he was winning and he must have felt the same way as he refused my draw offer. He was trying to find a winning method when he allowed me to repeat the same position twice. I played another move hoping he would let me repeat again and sure enough he did. I claimed the draw but he was adamant that it was not repeated 3 times so we had to get the head arbitrator. Vlad came and replayed the game and stated it was a draw, but I still think Howard wasn't convinced. When I put it into Rybka it confirmed the 3 repetitions and it gave the position as equal 0.00 but it still looked dangerous to me. I have never had that experience before where I needed to have an arbitrator confirm a draw. It was a bit uncomfortable but I knew I was right.
Position after 54.g3

2009 Canadian Open 2.pgn

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Canadian Open - Day 1

I arrived at the Delta Hotel for the Canadian Open just in time to take in GM Shriov's Lecture. It was interesting but not very helpful in terms of learning something new.

Round 1
I was desperately hoping I would be paired with a GM for the first round and it looked like I had a good chance but when the last minute entries were added and the pairings were made I had dropped to board 15. Still, I got to play my highest rated opponent ever, IM Zhe Quan (2465).

The game was broadcast on the internet on the monroi site. Weeks ago I decided that I was going to play a gambit line in the 1st round if I had a high rated opponent. I figured I was going to lose anyway so I might as well have fun. I had several things planned as white but not so much as black. I had black and when he played d4 I went into the Budapest Gambit and played a line where I give up a pawn but he has double isolated c pawns. I wasn't able to get any play for my pawn and had to trade off pieces to prevent being mated. Eventually he pushed his passed pawn and won the game. Not a surprise but fun anyway.

2009 Canadian Open 1.pgn

Since I didn't get to play a GM today I signed up for the GM Adams simul tomorrow morning. Wish me luck I'll need it.