For 2nd year in a row I have the honor to be Bulgarian champion for women and this way, to represent my country at the European Individual Championship in Belgrade, Serbia (22 July – 4 August).
Bankya – a small town near Sofia and a famous Bulgarian Spa Resort, held the 62nd Bulgarian female championship. The word “bankya” means “small bath” and completely fits, as a lot of mineral water springs with pleasant temperature (36,5°-37°) offer balneological treatment and relax. The nature, the water, the air made this place perfect for our chess tournament.
Surrounded by Lyulin mountain, with pine trees all around, Bankya has extremely fresh air. Almost all of the participants used their free time before or after the game to walk around. The organizers provided us 4**** hotel with sauna and steam bath for another kind of relaxation, as well as mineral water for all the players and arbiters during the game. The view from the playing hall was inspiring, which can be confirmed by most of the players, who were staring through the window while their opponents were thinking.
After the first 4 rounds I was a single leader with 100% and expected a similar result at the end of the competition. This is partly explained by the fact that I grabbed the title with 8/9 last year. Though… it wasn’t exactly how it happened.
The young girls showed a solid progress. The best achievement was made by Simoneta Ivanova who took a bronze medal. She is just 16 years-old, but managed to fight for the bronze (and perhaps could do even for more). Simoneta was the only one who beat me at this tournament. This happened in the 7th round, when WIM Elitsa Raeva and WGM Margarita Voiska (the reigning European champion for seniors - women) also lost against respectively Darena Sirkova (19 years-old) and Stefi Bednikova.
Another good impression left Maria Vasova (15 years-old) and the youngest participant Nurgyul Salimova (almost 10 years-old). Maria finished 4th, but had the chances for a medal in the last round. Direct derby between her and Simoneta decided the bronze to go to Ivanova (after draw).
Nurgyul managed to finish equal with Raeva, Sirkova and won against more experienced players like Galunova and Vasova.
The pairings left the match for the 1st place between me and Elitsa Raeva for the last round.
Videnova,Iva (2329) - Raeva,Elitsa (2269)
BUL-ch (w) 62nd Bankya Bankia (9.3), 25.04.2013
[The situation before the game was: Elitsa had 6/8, while I was half point behind. So only a win would bring me the title. And only the title would send me to European championship for women. My opponent needed draw and I had to win. Psychologically, the harder task was hers.]
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 [Elitsa is a very creative player. She always surprises me with the opening choice. Every time - something new. As usual against her, I couldn't guess the opening in my preparation. According to database, this is her 2nd Pirc ever.]
4.f4 [Playing only for win, the Austrian Attack is, in my opinion, the best choice.]
4...Bg7 5.Nf3 0–0 6.Bd3 Na6 7.0–0 c5 8.d5 Nc7?! [It's not a bad move, but it's less precise than 8...Rb8. As after 9.Qe1 Black cannot answer 9...Nb4.]
[The main moves are 8...Rb8; and 8...Bg4]
with the typical idea f5, Qh4, Bh6.]
9...a6 10.a4 Bd7 [Too slow is 10...b6 as in the game Videnova,I 2329-Martic,Z 2323/ Golden Krk-op 1st 2013, 1–0 11.f5 Bd7 (11...gxf5?! illustrates the way White must attack: 12.Qg3! Kh8 13.Qh4! Rg8 14.e5± with crushing attack.) 12.Qh4 b5 13.Bh6 b4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.Nd1І]
11.a5 Bb5 12.f5 [12.Qh4!?]
12...Bxd3 [12...gxf5 13.Qh4 (In the recent game Dzhumabayev chose another plan, which seems also possible: 13.exf5 Bxd3 14.cxd3 Nfxd5 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Ng5 is quite dangerous for Black. 16...Nf6 17.Ra4 Qd7 18.Rh4± e6 19.Nxh7 Nxh7 20.Rxh7 Bd4+ 21.Be3 exf5 22.Bxd4 cxd4 23.Qh4 Qe6 24.Rf3 f4 25.Rh3 f6 26.Rg7+ 1–0 (26) Dzhumabayev, R-Kotsur,P (2562) Astana 2011) 13...fxe4 14.Ng5±; 12...c4 13.Be2 gxf5 The best move according to the engine is 14.Nd4 (although I have to admit the move I was planning to play during the game was 14.Qh4 fxe4 (14...e6 15.dxe6 fxe6 16.exf5 exf5 17.Bxc4+І) 15.Ng5‚) 14...Nxe4 15.Nxf5 Nxc3 16.bxc3 Be5 17.Nh6+ Kg7 18.Ng4±]
13.cxd3 Nb5 14.Qh4 Nd4 [One more example why 14...g:f5 is not good in almost all the variations: 14...gxf5 15.Bh6 Bxh6 16.Qxh6 Ng4 17.Qh3±]
15.Nxd4 [The other option was 15.Bh6 Nxf3+ 16.Rxf3 Bxh6 17.Qxh6 Ng4 18.Qh4± Ne5 19.Rh3 h5 20.Qg5 Kh7 21.Ne2 Rh8 22.Nf4+– 1/2 (54) Tomba,I (2244)-Gromovs,S (2368) Cesenatico 2007]
15...cxd4 16.Ne2 Rc8 17.fxg6 hxg6 [Neither 17...fxg6 can help: 18.Nxd4±]
19.h3!? [I decided not to allow Queen-exchange, because of Black's weak King.]
19...Nh5 20.Nf5± 20...Bf6 21.Qg4 [Also possible and perhaps winning was 21.Bg5 Rc2 (21...Bxb2 22.Nxe7+ Kh7 (22...Kg7 23.Nxc8 Bxa1 24.Rxa1 Rxc8 25.g4+–) 23.Nxc8 Bxa1 24.Rxa1 Rxc8 25.g4+–) 22.Bxf6 exf6 23.Nh6+ Kg7 24.Ng4+–]
21...Qb5 22.Bg5 Rc2?
It's a serious mistake, but I cannot blame Elitsa too much. Because her position is already too problematic.]
[Slightly better, but also hard for the defensive player, was 22...Rc7 23.Bxf6 exf6 24.Qf3±]
23.Nxe7+ Bxe7 24.Bxe7 Re8 25.Bxd6+– Qxd3
26.Rxf7! Qe3+ [26...Kxf7 27.Qd7+ Kf6 28.Qxe8 Rxg2+ 29.Kxg2 Qe2+ 30.Kg1 Qe3+ 31.Kf1 Qxh3+ 32.Kf2 Qh4+ 33.Ke3 Qg5+ 34.Kd3+– and Black can resign, as White King successfully escaped from another check.]
27.Kh2 [Also winning was 27.Kh1 Ng3+ 28.Bxg3 Rc1+ 29.Rf1+–]
27...Qxe4 28.Qxe4 [Much stronger and faster was 28.Rf8+ Kh7 29.Rxe8 Qxe8 30.Rf1+–]
28...Rxe4 29.Raf1 Ree2 30.Rc7? [30.Rf8+ Kh7 31.R1f7+ Ng7 This position so far I saw, but I wasn't sure if I'm winning... Os course, my intuition had to tell me that a move as (31...Kh6? 32.Rh8+ Kg5 33.Be7++–) 32.h4!!+– exists and I had to look for it more deeply. After 32.h4 Black's best move would be simply to resign.]
31...Rxc7 32.Rf8+ [32.Bxc7 Rd2 (32...Rc2 33.Bh2±) 33.Rf3 Rxd5 34.Rb3 Rb5 35.Rxb5 axb5 36.Kg2 Kf7 37.Kf3 Nf6 38.Bd8 Nd5 39.Ke4 Ke6= and it seems drawish: 40.Bh4 Nb4 41.Be1 Nc6 42.b4 Ne5 43.Bc3 Nc6 44.Bd2 Ne5 45.Be1 Nc6 46.Bc3 Ne7=]
32...Kg7 33.Bxc7 Rc2 34.Rc8 Kf7 35.d6 Nf6 36.b4
Usually after so many missed chances the stronger side does not win. But, fortunately for me, Elitsa blundered in her zeitnot.]
36...Rd2? [Time pressure didn't let my opponent find the equalizing continuation: 36...Rc4! 37.b5 axb5 38.Rb8 Ra4 39.Rxb7 b4 40.Bb8+ Ke8! (40...Ke6?? 41.Re7+ Kd5 42.d7+–) 41.a6 Rxa6 42.Rxb4= and it must be draw.]
37.Rb8+– [The rest is just technique:]
37...Ne4 38.Rxb7 Ke6 39.Bb8 Ng3+ [39...Ng5 40.b5 Nf3 41.d7+– the mating picture does not succeed.]
40.Kg1 Ne2+ 41.Kf2 Nc1+ 42.Ke3 Rd3+ 43.Ke4 Rxh3 44.Re7+ Kf6 45.Ba7 Rh4+ 46.Kd5 Rxb4 47.Re6+ Kf5 48.d7 Nd3 49.Kd6 Rb5 50.d8Q Nf4 51.Rf6+ Kg4 52.Rxf4+
This game and many other last round games (the losses of Carlsen and Kramnik – the last round in London, in example) show that chess is, most of all, psychology. However computers changed the game, however the preparation matters, human psychics is that factor which changes the result. And perhaps, which makes chess still vital.
(Pictures by Iva Videnova and Vladimir Petrov)