Maxime's Revenge

Starting from yesterday I will do regular analyzes on the most interesting event for chess.com
Currently the attention is focused on the Grand Prix tournament in Tashkent which gathers together some of the top players in the world.
The game that everyone expected was between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Fabiano Caruana. The French GM is showing constant progress in his play but was defeated twice recently by Caruana (in Saint Louis). Maxime also had a birthday that day and he obviously decided to take care of the present himself.
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "Tashkent FIDE GP"]
[Site "Tashkent UZB"]
[Date "2014.10.21"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Caruana, F."]
[Black "Vachier Lagrave, M."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2844"]
[BlackElo "2757"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "102"]
[EventDate "2014.10.20"]

1. e4 c5 {In Saint Louis Maxime tried to surprise Fabiano with the Caro-Kann.
This did not work very well and he quickly sank into the home analyzes of
Caruana. In this game the Frenchman returns to his beloved Najdorf.} 2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Be3 {The English
Attack is Fabiano's main weapon.} Be7 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12.
Rg1 {Diagram [#] Caruana deviates from a game that he played the last year.
Against Gelfand he tried the main line:} (12. g5 b4 13. Ne2 Ne8 14. f4 a5 15.
f5 a4 16. fxe6 {Here instead of the most common 16.Nbd4, he chose the second
most popular move:} axb3 17. cxb3 fxe6 18. Bh3 Rxa2 19. Bxe6+ Kh8 20. Ng3 Nc7
21. Bc4 Qa8 22. Rhf1 Rxf1 23. Rxf1 Ra1+ 24. Kc2 Rxf1 25. Bxf1 d5 {and produced
a novelty-} 26. h4 {which was correctly met by Gelfand with} d4 $1 {and Black
went on to win this game, Caruana,F (2774) -Gelfand,B (2755) Moscow 2013})
12... Nb6 {A reasonable move with the idea Nb6-c4.} ({The point behind the
move 12.Rg1 becomes clear in the line} 12... b4 13. Nd5 {and Black has to part
with his light-squared bishop as} Nxd5 $2 (13... Bxd5 14. exd5 a5 15. g5 Nh5
16. Kb1 a4 17. Nc1) 14. exd5 {leaves no way out of the black piece-the pawn is
still on g4.}) 13. Na5 {The knight is heading for the c6 square.} Rc8 (13...
Qc7 {is the other interesting move when White can, for instance, sacrifice a
pawn with:} 14. g5 Nh5 15. Nd5 $5 Bxd5 16. exd5 Nxd5 17. Qxd5 Qxa5 18. Kb1 Qc7
19. Rg4 {Jakovenko,D (2723)-Givon,A (2449) Yerevan 2014 The total control of
the light squares and the misplaced knight compensate White for the sacrificed
pawn with interest.}) 14. g5 Nh5 15. Kb1 Qc7 {Not yet a novelty but a very
rare move.} (15... Nf4 {was tested in Anand, V (2783)-Topalov,V (2793)
Stavanger 2013}) ({As Kr. Szabo indicates-} 15... b4 {is too early, as after:}
16. Nd5 $1 Nxd5 17. exd5 Qxa5 18. dxe6 fxe6 19. Bh3 {Black cannot protect the
e6 P.} Kf7 $2 20. g6+ $1 hxg6 21. Qg2 {and White wins.}) ({And:} 15... g6 {was
a tried by Karjakin}) 16. Nd5 {Diagram [#] Technically speaking, this most
obvious move turns out to be a novelty according to my Megabase. However, we
have already seen the idea above in the game Jakovenko-Givon.} (16. h4 $2 {is
quite unfortunate at the moment as:} d5 $1 17. Nxd5 Nxd5 (17... Bxd5 $1 18.
exd5 Nxd5 {was basically winning for Black as the knight is untouchable-} 19.
Qxd5 $2 Rfd8) 18. exd5 Bxd5 19. Qf2 Bxa2+ 20. Kxa2 Qxa5+ 21. Kb1 {1/2 (21)
Damjanovic,V (2320)-Arsovic,G (2330) Belgrade 1993}) ({While the natural:} 16.
Qf2 $2 {is also a mistake-} Na4 17. Nxa4 Qxa5 18. Nc3 Qb4 ({as Black could
have won on the spot with:} 18... Rxc3 $1 19. bxc3 Bxa2+ 20. Kb2 b4 21. cxb4
Qxb4+ 22. Kxa2 Rb8 {with mating attack.}) 19. Bb6 {1/2 (19) Chesterkine,
V-Elistratov,S Vung Tau 2008}) 16... Nxd5 17. exd5 Bxd5 {Maxime has no choice
but to accept the challenge.} (17... Bd7 18. Bd3 g6 19. Be4 {leads to a very
pleasant position for White without any risk.}) 18. Qxd5 Qxa5 19. Bd3 g6 {
Diagram [#]} 20. c4 $6 {This looks dubious as it allows too many open files
for the black pieces. Jakovenko treated the position is a more tranquil way.
He placed the rook on g4, then slowly improved the bishop with c2-c3,
Bd3-c2-b3. I suspect that this was the correct plan.} (20. Rg4 Qc7 21. c3 {
White can always meet the move:} Nf4 {with-} 22. Bxf4 exf4 23. h4) 20... Nf4 $1
{[%csl Yd3,Ge7] Diagram [#] Very strong! Black returns the pawn but gets the
INITIATIVE. This is the key word whenever you play with opposite-colored
bishops. The opposite castlings would not hurt neither!} ({In case of:} 20...
Rb8 21. cxb5 axb5 22. Rc1 {Black will keep the extra pawn but his opponent
will have all the remaining joy-files, diagonals, light squares...}) 21. Bxf4
exf4 22. cxb5 {Consistent, or else Black can try something radical, like:} (22.
h4 Rc5 23. Qe4 Rb8 $5 24. Qxe7 bxc4 {with strong attack, for example:} 25. Be4
c3 26. Rg2 cxb2 27. Qxd6 Rc1+ 28. Rxc1 bxc1=Q+ 29. Kxc1 Qe1+ 30. Kc2 Rc8+ 31.
Bc6 Qe8 $17) 22... axb5 23. Qxb5 ({Naturally not} 23. Bxb5 $2 Rc5) 23... Qa7 $1
{[%csl Ra7][%cal Gb8b1,Gc8c1,Ga8a1] Diagram [#] Remember, activity! The
endgame is clearly better for White as he can bravely push the pawns:} (23...
Qxb5 24. Bxb5 Rc5 25. a4 Rxg5 26. Rxg5 Bxg5 27. a5) 24. Be4 {Fabiano decided
to get some control of the a and b files.} ({The line:} 24. h4 Rb8 25. Qa6 Qf2
26. b3 Ra8 {demostrates his point.}) 24... Rc7 25. Bd5 Qf2 {This wins a pawn.}
(25... Rb8 {was not bad neither. After:} 26. Qd3 Bf8 {the bishop will be very
happy on the long diagonal.}) 26. Qb3 ({Black's previous move created an
additional threat:} 26. h3 Bxg5 $1 {and the back rank is weak} 27. Rxg5 $4 Qc2+
28. Ka1 Qxd1#) 26... Qxh2 27. a4 Qf2 28. Rc1 {Caruana decided to take care of
the active rook.} ({Alas, with the queens on the board the pawns are not
moving easily-} 28. a5 $6 Qa7 29. Qb6 Rb8 $1 30. Qxa7 Rxa7) 28... Ra7 $1 {with
the idea Qf2-d4.} 29. Qb4 {White stops it, but Maxime regroups in a different
way.} ({I suspect that Fabiano did not like the fact that the black bishop is
getting active after-} 29. Qb5 Bd8 $5 (29... Qd4 30. a5 $1)) 29... Qe3 {with
the obvious threat Qe3-d3+} 30. Rcd1 ({Now:} 30. Qb5 $5 {was much more
tempting, for example:} Qe5 31. Rce1 Qf5+ 32. Be4 Qxb5 33. axb5 Rb8 34. Bc6 {
and this endgame should be OK for White.}) 30... Qe5 {and the not-so-obvious
attack against the g5 pawn. Black is mounting the pressure.} 31. Qb5 {A tricky
way to defend the pawn.} Kg7 ({The pawn is not yet tasty-} 31... Bxg5 $4 32.
Rxg5 Qxg5 33. Bxf7+) 32. Bc6 Rc8 33. Rg2 $2 {[%cal Yg1g2] Diagram [#] Caruana
blunders. Up to this moment he defended flawlessly and could have continued
doing this with:} (33. Rde1 Qd4 34. Rd1 Qf2 35. Rdf1 Qd2 36. Rd1 {Black is
still better, but most likely not winning.}) 33... d5 $1 {A nice tactical shot
that swaps off the excellent g5 pawn for the backward d6 one.} 34. Bxd5 (34.
Rxd5 {is no better-} Qe1+ 35. Ka2 (35. Kc2 $2 Rac7) 35... Qe6 36. Rc2 Bxg5) ({
However, I suspect that the best practical chance was to enter the endgame
with the rooks on the board. The active rooks!} 34. Qxd5 $5 Qxd5 35. Bxd5 Rxa4
36. Bb3 Ra5 {Now the pawn on g5 inevitably falls, but after:} 37. Rd7 Re5 38.
Rg1 Rf8 39. Rc1 Bxg5 40. Rcc7 Rf5 {White might have some practical chances
thanks to his active pieces.}) 34... Rc5 35. Qb3 Bxg5 (35... Rd7 $5 36. Be4
Rxd1+ 37. Qxd1 Bxg5) 36. Bc4 Bf6 37. Re2 Qf5+ ({Probably:} 37... Qg5 {is more
precise and then Black can push the h pawn.}) 38. Re4 {Black could have now
simply advanced the h pawn, but he chose a different way.} (38. Bd3 Qg5) 38...
Re5 39. Rde1 Rxe4 40. Rxe4 Re7 {MVL calculated that the endgame is won for him.
} 41. Bd3 Rxe4 42. Bxe4 Qd7 43. Qb5 Qxb5 44. axb5 Bd4 {[%csl Rb6][%cal Rd4b6,
Gd4g1,Gh7h5,Gg6g5,Gh5h4,Gh4h3,Gh3h2] Diagram [#] The best square for the
bishop. From here it both stops the b pawn and helps the king's side passers.}
45. Kc2 h5 46. b6 ({Nothing changes:} 46. Kd3 Be3 $1 ({Black should not be
greedy-} 46... Bxb2 $2 47. b6 Be5 48. Ke2 h4 49. Kf1 h3 50. b7 f5 51. Bd3 Kh6
52. Kg1 Kg5 53. Kh2 Kh4 54. Bc2) 47. Ke2 h4 48. Kf1 h3 49. Bc6 f5 50. Bd7 Kh6 {
with the idea Kh6-g5-h4-g3 and h3-h2.}) 46... Bxb6 47. Kd1 f5 48. Bc6 g5 ({The
plan from above is also possible-} 48... h4 49. Ke2 h3 50. Kf1 Kf6) 49. Bd7 Kf6
50. Ke2 g4 51. Kf1 Kg5 {The advance of the h pawn decides. A very convincing
win by the French GM against the world's number two! The main lesson from the
game: Whenever you have an opposite-colored bishops on the board, do always
prefer the initiative to the material!} 0-1

You can read the complete article by Peter Doggers here.


Know How in the Pawn Endgames (3)

Let us see now how know-how will help us win points:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "Snowdrops vs Oldhands"]
[Site "Podebrady CZE"]
[Date "2012.12.13"]
[Round "5.3"]
[White "Uhlmann, Wolfgang"]
[Black "Tania, Sachdev"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A29"]
[WhiteElo "2319"]
[BlackElo "2400"]
[Annotator "www.chesstoday.net"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/p3k2p/P1p2p1P/3p1K2/3P4/4PP2/8 w - - 0 47"]
[PlyCount "6"]
[EventDate "2012.12.08"]
[EventType "schev"]
[EventRounds "8"]
[EventCountry "CZE"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2012.12.16"]

{Diagram [#]} {The legendary German player Wolfgang Uhlmann won the East
German championships eleven times and was a world championship contender in
his best years. At the time that this game is played though he is 77 (!)
years old. This is the main reason why in a very complex position he
blundered with:} 47. e3 $4 {This allowed a break-through:} c4 $1 48. dxc4 d3
49. Kf3 Ke5 {And White resigned due to the zugzwang-} (49... Ke5 50. e4 f4 51.
c5 Ke6 $19) 0-1

As it was pointed out in Chess Today, Uhlmann missed a win.
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "Snowdrops vs Oldhands"]
[Site "Podebrady CZE"]
[Date "2012.12.13"]
[Round "5.3"]
[White "Uhlmann, Wolfgang"]
[Black "Tania, Sachdev"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A29"]
[WhiteElo "2319"]
[BlackElo "2400"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/p3k2p/P1p2p1P/3p1K2/3P4/4PP2/8 w - - 0 47"]
[PlyCount "33"]
[EventDate "2012.12.08"]
[EventType "schev"]
[EventRounds "8"]
[EventCountry "CZE"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2012.12.16"]

{Diagram [#]} {Things should have ended differently:} 47. e4 $1 dxe3 (47... c4
48. dxc4) 48. fxe3 Kf6 49. e4 $1 {[%cal Gh4h5,Ga4a5] White wants to trade the
central pawns to reach a theoretically won endgame.} fxe4 50. dxe4 c4 51. e5+
Ke6 52. Ke4 c3 53. Kd3 Kxe5 ({Nothing changes:} 53... Kf5 54. Kxc3 Kxe5 55. Kc4
Kd6 56. Kd4 $18) 54. Kxc3 $1 {[%cal Rh4h5,Ra4a5] Diagram [#] Yet another case
of a bishop opposition! The space advantage and the geometry of the board
work in White's favour and he wins no matter which pawn Black will go for-} Kd5
(54... Kf5 55. Kc4 Kg5 56. Kc5 Kxh5 57. Kb6 Kg4 58. Kxa6 h5 59. Kb6 h4 60. a6
h3 61. a7 h2 62. a8=Q $18 {[%csl Rh1][%cal Ra8h1]}) 55. Kd3 Kc5 56. Ke4 Kb5 57.
Kf5 Kxa5 58. Kg6 Kb4 59. Kxh6 a5 60. Kg6 a4 61. h6 a3 62. h7 a2 63. h8=Q $18

How could Uhlmann calculate that deep during the game? He did not have to. All he needed to do was to remember the following study:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1927.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Grigoriev"]
[Black "Space, geometry"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Annotator ",bojkov"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/p6p/P3k2P/8/8/2K5/8 w - - 0 0"]
[PlyCount "19"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2009.03.11"]

{[%csl Ra5,Ya6,Rh5,Yh6] Diagram [#]} 1. Kc3 $1 {[%csl Rc3,Re5][%cal Re5d4,
Rc3d4]} (1. Kd3 $2 Kd5 $11 {[%cal Rd5e4,Rd5d4,Rd5c4]}) 1... Kd5 (1... Kf5 2.
Kc4 Kg5 3. Kc5 Kxh5 4. Kb6 Kg4 5. Kxa6 h5 6. Kb6 h4 7. a6 h3 8. a7 h2 9. a8=Q
$18 {[%csl Rh1][%cal Ra8h1]}) (1... Ke6 2. Kc4 {[%csl Ra6,Rc4,Re6][%cal Rc4d5,
Re6d5,Rc4c5,Rc5b6,Rb6a6]}) 2. Kd3 Kc5 3. Ke4 Kb5 4. Kf5 Kxa5 5. Kg6 Kb4 6. Kxh6
a5 7. Kg6 a4 8. h6 a3 9. h7 a2 10. h8=Q {[%csl Ra1][%cal Rh8a1]} 1-0

The solution of the problem would be the proper equipment with a base of knowledge. You do not need to know every single endgame by heart. It is hardly possible (except perhaps for a genius like Ivanchuk) but more importantly it is not worth memorizing countless endgames which are very unlikely to happen.
On the other hand each player should owe an existence minimum of exact positions in every major endgame (pawns above all but also knight/bishop/rook/queen) endgames. This will help the players a chance to orientate in most of the situations, will suggest them which pieces to trade and which to keep and naturally will support the calculation.
Best of luck in building your own memory library!
You can also check the complete article on the FIDE Trainer's site.


Know How in the Pawn Endgames (2)

Let us see now how the know-how can help us save points:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "30th Metz Open"]
[Site "Metz FRA"]
[Date "2012.04.??"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Lalic, Bogdan"]
[Black "Gurevich, Mikhail"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E01"]
[WhiteElo "2469"]
[BlackElo "2611"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/5k2/8/6Rp/1r5P/6P1/8/5K2 b - - 0 44"]
[PlyCount "25"]
[EventDate "2012.04.14"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "FRA"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2012.04.22"]

{Diagram [#]} {At a glance it seems as Black is lost. he cannot defend the h
pawn and the two passers should win easily. However, the famous player and
renown coach replied with the cool:} 44... Rg4 $1 {It seems insane to allow a
pawn endgame when beind down a pawn. On the top of that the extra pawn is a
defended passer. Still after:} 45. Rxg4 hxg4 $11 {A textbook draw is achieved.
Lalic tried to win for a while:} 46. Ke2 Ke6 {Distant opposition.} 47. Kd3 Kd5
{Normal opposition.} 48. Kc3 {Diagram [#] The black king can no longer follow
the opponent but there is a neat solution.} Ke5 $1 {Bishop opposition. From
here the black king is ready to take the normal opposition no matter which
direction the white king will choose.} (48... Kc5 $4 49. h5) 49. Kb4 (49. Kd3
Kd5 {only repeats moves.}) (49. Kc4 Ke4 $11) 49... Kd4 50. Ka3 {Once again the
black king is limited to the square of the h pawn, but Gurevic uses the
familiar method:} Ke5 $1 {You can name this dstant bishop opposition if you
like :)} 51. Ka4 Ke4 {Normal distant opposition.} 52. Ka5 Ke5 53. Ka6 Ke6 54.
Ka7 Ke7 55. Kb7 Kd7 {Opposition.} 56. Kb6 Kd6 1/2-1/2

Gurevich did not have to invent the hot water. He knew the following position:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1922.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Grigoriev"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/8/4k3/Pp6/1P3K2/8/8 b - - 0 0"]
[PlyCount "19"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2009.03.11"]

{Diagram [#]} 1... Kd5 $1 {[%csl Rd5,Rf3][%cal Rf3e4,Rd5e4] Bishop opposition.}
2. Kf4 Kd4 {[%csl Rd4,Rf4][%cal Rf4e4,Rd4e4]} 3. Kg4 Ke4 4. Kg3 Ke5 {[%csl Re5,
Rg3][%cal Rg3f4,Re5f4] Bishop opposition again. Whenever the norml opposition
does not work, the defender should use the bishop one.} (4... Ke3 $2 5. a5 $18
{[%cal Ra5d5,Rd5d8,Rd8a8,Re3d4]}) 5. Kf3 Kd5 6. a5 Kc5 7. Ke4 Kb5 8. Kd5 Kxa5
9. Kc4 Ka6 $1 {[%csl Ra6,Rc4][%cal Rc4b5,Ra6b5]} 10. Kxb4 Kb6 {[%csl Rb4,Rb6]
[%cal Rb4b5,Rb6b5]} 1/2-1/2

You are not yet convinced? Then check this out:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "Cappelle op 28th"]
[Site "Cappelle la Grande"]
[Date "2012.03.09"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Andriasian, Zaven"]
[Black "Sveshnikov, Vladimir"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B04"]
[WhiteElo "2616"]
[BlackElo "2426"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/6p1/4k3/8/Pp3K2/1P6/8/8 b - - 0 51"]
[PlyCount "47"]
[EventDate "2012.03.03"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "FRA"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2012.04.24"]

{Diagram [#]} 51... g5+ $1 {Sveshnikov demonstrates knowledge. He could have
kept the pawn on g7 and only after White captures it he can play Ke7 which
would also be a draw.} 52. Kxg5 Ke5 53. Kg4 Ke4 54. Kg3 Ke5 55. Kf3 Kd5 56. Kf2
Ke6 57. Ke2 Kd6 58. Kf3 Kd5 {Diagram [#]} 59. Kg3 Ke5 60. Kh4 Kd4 61. Kh3 Kd5
62. Kg2 Kd6 63. Kf2 Ke6 64. Kg2 Kd6 65. Kh3 Kd5 66. Kh4 Kd4 67. Kh5 Kd5 68. Kh6
Kd6 69. Kh7 Kd7 70. Kg6 Ke6 71. Kg5 Ke5 72. Kg4 Ke4 73. Kg3 Ke5 74. Kf3 Kd5

Try finding this over the board after a tense four-five hour game. To make things even spicier, imagine that this is a day with a double round, this is your second game and you have played the same four-five hours…
(To be continued.)


Know How in the Pawn Endgames (1)

The knowledge of exact positions is the cornerstone in the understanding of the pawn endgames.
The pawn endgames have their own specifics. Contrary to the other endgames where we can use approximate evaluations like slightly better/worse or much better/worse without definite conclusion, in the pawn endgames we use only three evaluations- win/draw/loss.
The lack of material enables us to calculate the lines till the end but this is easier said than done. At the end of the game players are usually tired and tend to make more mistakes. The time troubles also do not contribute to the proper calculations.
To sum the things up- pawn endgames can be easily compared to mathematical task where you have only one true answer. In order to find this answer the knowledge of a concrete theorem is needed in mathematics, while in chess that would be the knowledge of a concrete exact position.
Let's have a look of a case where one of the opponents is lacking essential exact knowledge. The following game was played at the first Metropolitan open tournament in Los Angeles three years ago. The player who has the white pieces is a strong national master Mikhail Langer. His opponent is a young and promising IM from Canada, Raja Panjwani. It was actually Raja who showed me the game immediately after it was over. It is a strange coincidence as you will see in a moment. In the diagrammed position White chose the natural looking:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "Los Angeles Metropolitan op 1st"]
[Site "Los Angeles"]
[Date "2011.08.17"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Langer, Mikhail"]
[Black "Panjwani, Raja"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B02"]
[WhiteElo "2180"]
[BlackElo "2420"]
[Annotator "Mьller,Karsten"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/3p1p2/8/4P3/3K4/6k1/8/8 w - - 0 80"]
[PlyCount "8"]
[EventDate "2011.08.17"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2009.03.11"]

{Diagram [#]} 80. Ke3 $2 {The most natural reply appears to be the first and
the last mistake in the endgame. The normal opposition is wrong here as White
cannot keep it up on all the squares.} ({White needed to choose the distant
opposition!} 80. Kc3 $1 {[%csl Gc3,Gg3] this was the only way to draw. For
example-} Kf4 81. Kd4 Kf3 82. Kd3 Kg2 83. Kc2 {[%cal Rc2d2,Rd2e2,Rg2f2,Rf2e2]}
Kg1 84. Kc1 Kf2 85. Kd2 Kf3 86. Kd3 Kf4 87. Kd4 Kf5 88. Kd5 {when Black can
make no progress and the game should end in a draw-} f6 89. exf6 Kxf6 90. Kd6)
({On the other hand, the immediate aggression is wrong on the account of-} 80.
Kd5 $2 Kf3 $19 {[%csl Gd3,Gd5,Gf3,Gf5][%cal Rd5e4,Rf3e4] Black wins the
diagonal opposition and outflanks the opponent's king-} 81. Kd4 Kf4 {[%csl Re5]
} 82. Kd5 Ke3 {[%cal Re3d4,Re3e4]} 83. Kd6 Ke4 84. Kxd7 Kxe5 $19) ({Also wrong
is:} 80. Ke4 $2 Kg4 {[%csl Re4,Ye5][%cal Gg4g5,Rg4f4,Rg4f3,Rg4f5,Yf5e5]} 81.
Ke3 Kf5 82. Kd4 Kf4 {which transposes to the previous note-} 83. Kd5 Ke3 84.
Kd6 Ke4 85. Kxd7 Kxe5 $19 {[%cal Gf7f5]}) {The many lines in which White could
have gone wrong should convince you that things are not as simple as they look.
The game saw-} 80... Kg4 81. Ke4 Kg5 {[%csl Re5][%cal Re4e5] Diagram [#] Now
White can not maintain the vital normal opposition as the e5 square is not
available for his king.} 82. Kd4 (82. Ke3 Kf5 83. Kd4 Kf4 84. Kd5 Ke3 $19)
82... Kf4 {[%csl Gd4,Gf4] Opposition} 83. Kd5 Ke3 {Outflanking. White resigned
due to the line:} (83... Ke3 84. Kc5 Ke4 85. Kd6 Kd4 86. Kxd7 Kxe5 87. Ke7 f5
$19) 0-1

Panjwani did his homework which cannot be said for his opponent. He knew long before the game the following classical example:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1890.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Neustadtl"]
[Black "Combined oppositions"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/8/4p1p1/8/5P2/6K1/3k4 w - - 0 0"]
[PlyCount "11"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2009.03.11"]

{Diagram [#]} 1. Kh1 $8 {[%csl Rf1][%cal Rh1g1,Rd1e1,Re1f1,Rg1f1] Distant
opposition saves the day.} ({Once again bad is the normal one-} 1. Kf1 $2 Kd2
2. Kf2 Kd3 {[%csl Rf3][%cal Rf2f3]} 3. Kg3 Ke3 {[%csl Re3,Rg3]} 4. Kg2 Ke2 5.
Kg3 Kf1 $19 {[%csl Rf1,Rg3] Outflanking!}) 1... Kd2 ({Black has one more
resource in his disposal-} 1... g4 {but after-} 2. Kg2 {[%cal Rg2f3,Rf3e4,
Re4e5] the draw is inevitable-} gxf3+ ({Or:} 2... Ke2 3. fxg4 e4 4. g5 e3 5. g6
Kd2 6. g7 e2 7. g8=Q e1=Q $11) 3. Kxf3 Kd2 4. Ke4) 2. Kh2 Kd3 3. Kh3 Ke3 4. Kg3
Ke2 5. Kg2 Ke1 6. Kg1 1/2-1/2

Panjwani did his homework which cannot be said for his opponent. He knew long before the game the following classical example:
The lack of know-how prevented Langer of saving the half point after a tough and accurate resistance. Panjwani on the other hand knew the position and if the colours were reversed he would have easily saved the game. The knowledge helped him in the game as well as he knew exactly how to win after his opponent committed a mistake.
(To be continued.)


Stalemate Steals the Point

Round eight of the Olympiad appeared to be tough for the PNG team. we were facing Gambia.

It started with a more or less expected loss on board four where Craig Skehan played unnecessary timidly to his opponent.
Things got worse soon as the top scorer of the team Stuart Fancy also suffered a defeat to Ebrima Bah. This was one of his very few losses but in a highly important situation.
It seems as the chances for something are over as Helmut Marko was in trouble on board two.However, with persistance and will the Austrian born CM managed to outwit his opponent and score for PNG.
All had to be decided in the game Bittaye-Jones. Rupert enjoyed an excellent preparation and soon emerged a pawn ahead, clearly better.

After some imprecise decisions by both sides the following position was reached:

A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "WCO2014"]
[Site "Tromso"]
[Date "2014.08.10"]
[Round "8.38"]
[White "Bittaye Momodou Lamin"]
[Black "Jones Rupert"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A01"]
[BlackElo "1899"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/5B2/8/4k3/1pp5/3b3P/8/2K5 b - - 0 51"]
[PlyCount "14"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:11:13"]
[BlackClock "0:10:15"]

51... Kd4 $6 {Rather unpractical decision. Simple and good is:} (51... c3 {
[%csl Rb2,Rc2,Rd2,Yh3][%cal Ge5f4,Gf4g3,Gg3h3,Rc3d2,Rc3b2,Rd3c2] then Black
wins the pawn and the game.}) 52. Kb2 b3 53. h4 Bc2 54. h5 {Diagram [#]} c3+ $4
{If the previous mistake complicated matters, this one throws away the
advantage! White has a beautiful idea to save the point and the match.} (54...
Kd3 $1 {was called for when the pawns are unstoppable.} 55. h6 c3+ 56. Kc1 b2#)
55. Kc1 Ke5 ({At first I thought that Black can still transpose to the winning
line-} 55... Kc5 56. h6 ({but White can play} 56. Bg6 $1 $11) 56... Kb4 57. Bg8
Bd3 58. h7 b2+ 59. Kd1 b1=Q#) 56. h6 Kf6 {"It is a draw", whispered the
arbiter of the match.} 57. Bg8 {Zugzwang. Rupert was still unaware of what is
going on.} Kg6 {Diagram [#] An incident occurred here. "Check" announced one
of Bittaye's teammates, loud enough for him to hear. I instinctively jumped
and protested loudly (some inappropriate language also took place.) This
changed nothing.} 58. Bh7+ $1 ({And draw due to the stalemate-} 58. Bh7+ Kxh7)


PNG Breaks the Tradition

After laughing heartily on my friend's stories of nearly missed flights I could not miss a chance to miss my own. There is always a first time to do something wrong. Well, the moment was not a very good one. Just try to find a flight to Tromso at the very last moment at the beginning of the Olympiad. Or simply ask Hikaru Nakamura on his experience.
Anyway, after three hours of a thorough research I found an option! And arrived just in time for the first round.
True, my Papua New Guinea team lost traditionally at the beginning with a 0-4 result to Singapore. But yesterday we broke "the tradition" and took good 1.5 points in our second match.
Our top board Stuart Fancy produced a bold positional sacrifice at the position on the diagram:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "WCO2014"]
[Site "Tromso"]
[Date "2014.08.03"]
[Round "2.1"]
[White "Fancy Stuart"]
[Black "Almedina Ortiz Edgardo J."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2036"]
[BlackElo "2277"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "1rb1k2r/4bppp/p1n1pn2/qpp5/P2pPP2/1P3NN1/2PPB1PP/R1BQ1RK1 w k - 0 12"]
[PlyCount "79"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:37"]
[BlackClock "0:02:05"]

12. axb5 $1 {For the exchange White gets a pawn and plenty of useful central
squares. The position is closed and the extra exchange of Black is not as
strong as one might think.} Qxa1 13. bxc6 O-O ({Stuart felt that Black can do
better if he brings the queen home at once:} 13... Qa5 14. Ne5 Qc7 {Indeed
this is so, but White has decent compensation for the exchange after something
like-} 15. Ba3 O-O 16. Bc4 $44) 14. Ne5 Ne8 15. f5 Nc7 {[%csl Ya1] Now the
queen will be excluded from the game for a very long time.} 16. Bc4 Bd6 17. Nd3
e5 18. Qh5 Ne8 {Diagram [#]} 19. f6 $3 {[%csl Ya1,Yb8,Gc4,Yc8,Gd3,Gf1,Gg3,Rg8,
Gh5] Very energetic play! White uses his piece majority to attack on the
king's flank.} Be6 {Black gets checkmated or loses loads of material in case
of:} (19... Nxf6 20. Rxf6 gxf6 21. Qh4 (21. Qh6 Bg4 22. h3) 21... Be7 22. Nh5
Kh8 23. Nxf6 Bxf6 24. Qxf6+ Kg8 25. Qg5+ Kh8 26. Qxe5+ {[%csl Rb8,Rh8][%cal
Re5b8,Re5h8]}) (19... gxf6 20. Rxf6 $1 Nxf6 21. Qg5+ Kh8 22. Qxf6+ Kg8 23. Nh5
{[%csl Rg7][%cal Rf6g7]}) 20. Bxe6 g6 21. Qf3 $18 {The game is essentially
over.} (21. Qg4 {is a bit faster-} fxe6 22. f7+ Kg7 23. Qxe6 Qa5 24. Nxe5 $18)
21... fxe6 22. f7+ Kh8 23. fxe8=Q Rbxe8 24. Qg4 Rxf1+ 25. Kxf1 c4 26. bxc4 Qa4
27. c5 Bc7 28. Qg5 Qxc2 29. Ke2 Qc4 {Diagram [#]} 30. h4 $1 {The king will
soon have no guards left.} Qb5 31. h5 Qxc6 32. hxg6 Qd7 33. Nh5 Bd8 34. Qxe5+
Kg8 35. c6 Qe7 {Diagram [#]} 36. Ba3 $1 {[%csl Ye7,Rg8][%cal Re5g7,Ra3e7]
Despite the time trouble Staurt finishes in style.} Bc7 37. gxh7+ Qxh7 38. Qg5+
Kh8 39. Nf6 Bd8 40. Nxh7 Bxg5 41. Nxg5 Kg7 42. Nc5 e5 43. c7 Kf6 44. Nge6 Rc8
45. g4 a5 46. Kd3 Ke7 47. Kc4 Kd6 48. g5 Kc6 49. g6 a4 50. Nd8+ Kxc7 51. g7 1-0


In Asuncion

The Panamercian U20 Junior championships were scheduled to take place in the middle of May. For various reasons the dates were moved to the end of June (21-28) and this gave a chance to my student Ashritha Eswaran from USA to take part in the event.
Panamerican championships gather together the players from both South and North America. However, it is not very usual for the North American players to participate at these events. One of the reasons is the distance. Another, I suspect is the language barrier. In most of the South American countries people hardly speak English.

This was not the case though in Paraguay. The organizer of the event Ronald Zarza Pelissier is a man of German origin and speaks fluently Deutsch. His English is also very good. Add to these linguistic advantages the pure will to help and you will know why Asuncion was a very successful host of the event.
The tournament took place in the offices of the ABC color downtown. The venue was easily accessible and comfortable.
Players from eleven countries took part in the women event. The top seed and experienced Ann Chumpitaz of Peru played steadily throughout the event and won the trophy convincingly with 8/9.

Ann is already an established player; she participated at the Olympiad in Istanbul. In general, Peru dominated the event. The silver was claimed by a very talented Mitzy Mishe Caballero Quijano. She scored 7.5/9. Just like Ann she did not lose a game. However there is an important difference between the two players. Chumpitaz played her last championship while Mitzy is only thirteen years old!
The charming Ivette Ale Garcia Morales took bronze. This is a huge achievement for her country and Ivette hopes that Mexico will show even better results in the future.

Ashritha Eswaran took good fifth place, which would not be too bad if we did not see her games. She missed plenty of points in completely won positions. We have a lot of food for thought after the event!

In the boy’s section the rating favourite Cristobal Villagra Henriquez (rated 2459)proved better than his opponents and won the title for Chile. Despite the draw in the third round and the loss in fourth he managed to calm down and win five games till the end of the event.
A curious moment happened during the price giving when Cristobal did not show in time to take his trophy. I thought that he is chasing a flight but it appeared that there was a much more important thing to do- he was watching the football match of his compatriots with Brazil…

In this section a pleasant surprise was the second place of Diego Blandon Villa of Columbia. Third was Giuseppe Leiva of Peru.
Both winners of the boys and girls event earned a GM norm. It is Cristobal’s second norm.
Chess in Paraguay is becoming more and more popular these days thanks to the efforts of their best player. GM Axel Bachman recently crossed the 2600+ rating mark. In fact not only crossed but sky-rocketed to the 2652 mark. Axel is a national hero in his country.
Another remarkable person is the third seeded in the boy’s section Guillermo Vazquez. He is good in there things. Chess, where he is an FM, mathematics (he’s heading for Olympics in South Africa after the Panam) and software. I am using the chance to express my gratitude to his parents for the wonderful barbecue evening that they organized for the players of the event. (A blitz tournament with prices also took place then!)
I would also like to thank Ronald Zarza Pelissier for the wonderful organization as well as to all the arbiters and organizers involved in the event.