Success in Montenegro

At the recently finished stage of the Balkan Grand Prix in Cetinje (MNE) I was lucky to claim the first price. I consider as my best effort the game versus GM Miso Cebalo.
Cebalo,Miso (2476) - Bojkov,Dejan (2521) [A68]
Memorijal Danilo - Dajo Batricevic Cetinje (7.2), 15.08.2009
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 0–0 6.Nf3 c5 I decided to deviate from my usual 7...Na6. Cebalo is a very aggressive player, and somehow I expected this line. 7.d5 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5 Bg4 10.0–0 Nbd7 11.Re1 Re8 12.h3 Bxf3 13.Bxf3 Qa5 14.Be3 b5 15.a3 Nb6 16.Bf2 Nc4 17.Qc2 Nd7

18.a4 Now it is the term of the Croatian Grandmaster to surprise. My preparation was concentrated on the move: [18.Be2 which Cebalo had used three times according to my base- 18...Rab8 19.a4 b4 20.Nb5 Nxb2 21.Nxd6 b3 22.Qb1 Nxa4 (22...Red8 23.e5 Nxa4 24.Bd1 Rb4 25.Bxb3 Rdb8 26.Qa2 Rxb3 27.Qxa4± and White won in 1–0 Cebalo,M (2465)-Rasic,D (2283)/Pula 2001/CBM 082 ext (40)) 23.Ra3 Red8 (23...c4 24.Nxe8 Bf8 25.d6 Qb4was unclear in 0–1 Cebalo,M (2520)-Balcerak,J (2413)/Biel 2000/CBM 077 ext (51)) 24.Rxb3 Nc3 25.Nc4 leads to sharp position with vast scope for improvement for both sides–Ѕ–Ѕ Cebalo,M (2510)-Mohr,G (2474)/Rabac 2003/CBM 096 ext (43)] 18...b4 This seems like an only move to me. However it seems that Black is now doing more than good. 19.Nb5 a6 20.Qxc4 axb5 21.Qxb5 Later on I dicovered a game in the line- [21.axb5 Qxa1 22.Rxa1 Rxa1+ 23.Kh2 Bxb2 (23...Nb6 might also be tested) 24.b6 Ra5 25.b7 f6 and now the simple- (25...Rb8

seems to give an edge for Black.) 26.Bg4 0–1 Sladkov,A-Makarov,S/Dagomys 2004/EXT 2005 (35)] 21...Qxb5 22.axb5 Bxb2 23.Rxa8 I was planning to meet the move- [23.Ra6 with 23...Rxa6 24.bxa6 Ra8 25.Be2 Nb8 (25...Bc3!? is also interesting)winning the pawn on a6. However now the central breakthrough 26.e5 wins in force, and probably this should have been preferred by White.] 23...Rxa8 24.e5 Bc3! 25.Rb1 [Or- 25.Rd1 b3 26.exd6 b2 27.Rb1 Ra1 28.Be4 and now Rybka suggests the slightly paradoxal retreat- 28...Ra4!? concretely picking up the f4 pawn.] 25...Rb8 I believe this is the main enemy for me-the b passer. The central pawn mass can be stopped by the combined efforts of the black pieces. Alternatively, I was also considering the line- [25...dxe5 26.d6 Ra1 Worse seems to be the line (26...Rd8 27.Bc6 exf4 28.Bxd7 Rxd7 29.Bxc5 with very unclear consequences) 27.Rxa1 Bxa1 The engines highly praise the arising position, but I disliked- 28.Bc6 b3 29.Bd5 b2 30.Ba2 exf4 31.Kf1

where my bishop is excluded from the game.] 26.e6 [26.exd6 Rxb5 is good for Black.] 26...Nf6 27.g4 I was mainly expecting something like: [27.Be2 Nxd5 28.exf7+ Kg7 (28...Kf8) ; 27.exf7+ Kg7 28.Be2 Ne4!?

where the connected passers look rather dangerous. Nevertheless, this might be a better chance for White.] 27...Rxb5 28.g5 Ne8 29.Be2 Rb8 30.Bc4 Kf8 31.f5 I did not seriously expect this. White gives away too much material, and I may afford to give back some part of it later. 31...gxf5 32.Bh4 Rb7 Good profilactical move. e6-e7 idea is now excluded, and an exchange sacrifice is coming up soon. 33.Kg2 Ng7 34.Kf3 Be5 I was already considering the exchange sacrifice- [34...fxe6 35.dxe6 Re7 36.g6 hxg6 37.Bxe7+ Kxe7 38.Rg1 Nxe6 39.Rxg6 Nd4+ 40.Ke3 Black is obviously better, but is he surely winning?! The move in the text keeps all the advantages of the position without forcing anything. Next I am going to use the rook on the open a file. In time trouble Cebalo tried also to improve his bishop:] 35.Bb3 but found an unfortunate square for it, since after: 35...fxe6 36.dxe6 Re7 37.g6 hxg6 38.Bxe7+ Kxe7 39.Rg1 Nxe6

The threat of the knight fork forces White to exchange his bishop, and the resulting position is easily winning for Black. 40.Bxe6 Kxe6 41.Rxg6+ Kf7 42.Rg1 c4 43.Ke2 b3 0–1


Alberto Reigns in Kavala

The Open Greek Championship took place traditionally- at the end of July/ beginning of August (31.07-01.08). By that time in Kavala the weather is extremely hot, like everywhere in Greece in fact, at least for my measures. However, the tournament is always respected by many chess players. This year was no exception- 160 players competed only in the A tournament. Among them were 48 GMs and 25 IMs from 23 different federations! Together with approximately the same number of participants in the “B” section, and around 60 players in the children “C” tournament Kavala is the largest chess festival in Greece. The tournament is fashionable for many reasons.
First of all it has the status of an open Greek Championship. This means that the best Greek player in the tournament will qualify directly for the round-robin Greek Individual Championship. Last year the lucky winner was Panos Dagkakis from the local club, with rating around 2250- democracy in its pure form. The best female player also qualifies for the national women championship.
Secondly- the wonderful conditions. Except for the price fund that is not bad at all- 15 000 Euro in total for both the A and B tournaments and 3000 for the winner of the main event, there are strictly fixed starting conditions for the titled participants. On the announcement of the tournament there is a scale by which any player can calculate what conditions he will receive- will he/she receive a double or a single room, how many days shall he/she spend in the hotel, will there be a travelling expenses coverage for him/her or not. This is very a simple and very effective system. When the organizers finish their resource of conditions, they simply close the registration, thus no player can claim that he was misjudged in his expectations, and the organizers can correctly distribute the financial funds they have.
Speaking about the organization-there are two men that have to be mentioned first. Vasilis Theodoris, and Vasilis Liogkas are the personalities mainly responsible for this event to take place, even at the times of financial crisis. The first one is a vice-president of the Greek Chess Federation, president of East Macedonia-Thrace Chess Union, and chief in the club. Architect by occupation, this chess devotee spends his evenings in the chess club, making sure that all the things will go smoothly. Vasilis Liogkas on his turn is a politician with strong connections, the leader of the communist party in the town, and president of the Kavala Chess Club. The efforts and the connections of these two men give the fruits of the financial funds of the tournament. However, this is a long and hard process that starts often immediately after the Kavala open has once finished.
We should not underestimate the efforts of the other helpers from the club. It is one big family, in which everyone gives whatever they can- translations, internet support, tournament site, live transmission of the game, photos, organizations-all of these are done also by other members of the Kavala Chess Club.
Third- this is the wonderful hospitality of the locals, and the excellent touristic sides to be seen. Kavala itself, the fourth largest town in Greece is famous touristic destination. Picturesquely situated on the see shore, the town has a harbour, old part of the town-with taverns, live music, excellent food, and many places to be seen. Among them is the fortress, the ancient aqueduct, the house of Mehmed Ali Pasha (Egyptian, founder of a dynasty later in his native Egypt, who did many good deeds for the town), tobacco museum, etc.
The Thasos Island can be seen from the town’s fortress and is still famous for its great wines. It is a historical fact that Kavala was founded by the Thasos people at around 6 century B. C. The initial name of the town was Neapol (new city).
Fourteen kilometers next to Kavala is Philippi-important town in the ancient times, founded by Philip Second, the father of Alexander the Great. You can still visit there the Ancient Theater, the Temple of St Lidia-the first European that took Christianity by St Paul.
Last, but not least-these are the remarkable beaches. In Kavala there are a few excellent, but my most preferable is the one in Nea Peramos-some 15 km away from the town. It is situated in vineyards, surrounded by green plants- clean sand, warm water, and superb abilities welcome the visitors.
The “A” tournament was rather tense, with the Luxembourg GM Alberto David storming the first five rounds. Later on, he slowed down the speed, and was first caught by the Indian Sandipan Chanda in round six, and furthermore by Vlad Nevednichy (ROM) and Abhijeet Gupta (IND) in the penultimate round. There was also a large group of players half a point behind them. Chanda and Nevednichy quickly signed the peace pact in the final round, while Gupta was torturing David in a rook endgame three versus two on one flank for a while. The defense proved perfect, and the Luxembourg claimed the title due to his better tie-break. Three more players jumped from the back to tie for the first- Hrant Melkhumian (ARM), Sergey Volkov (RUS), and Nidjat Mamedov (AZE). Thus, except for the two Indian players the podium became totally international.
In addition, I would like to show you a game of my ex-student George Ketzetzis, who managed to completely outplay the second-seeded Russian GM Vladimir Belov, but the heavy time-trouble took away the deserved win.
Official site of the tournament with games, and photos- http://www.chesskavala.gr/


Vladimir Georgiev Claims Canadian Tournament

The open championship of Quebec took place in Montreal 18th-25th July. For the first price of 5000 Canadian dollars competed only twenty players. Thus the tournament was closer to the round-robin event, rather than an open.
I also had to take part in the event. However, the strange attitude of the organizers made my participation impossible. After agreeing the conditions, they simply “forgot to” send me the promised VIZA, and did not bother to reply to my emails.
How Vladimir Georgiev claimed the title, you can see from the annotations of his final effort:
Kasparov,S (2487) - Georgiev,Vl (2530) [C68]
Quebec Open Montreal CAN (9), 25.07.2009
[Vladimir Georgiev]
Before this game that was played in last round I had half point more than my opponent, however he had the white pieces. I was happy that my opponent is exploiting only one line against 1...e5- the Exchange line of the Ryu Lopez that is solid but not dangerous line for black. My preparation was quite easy because of this fact. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0–0 Qf6! I decided that it is better to surprise my opponent first. From psychological point this is very important. Previously I only played 5...f6 instead. This was the first time I opted for 5...Qf6. 6.d4 exd4 7.Bg5 Qd6 8.Nxd4 [8.Qxd4 Qxd4 9.Nxd4 Bd7 10.Nc3 is the other main line here.] 8...Bd7 I prefer this move. It's more playable than 8...Be7. [8...Be7 9.Bxe7 Nxe7 10.Nc3 Bd7 11.Nde2 0–0–0 12.Qc1 Ng6 13.Qe3 Kb8 14.Rad1 Qe7 15.Rd2 Ne5= Ѕ–Ѕ Radjabov,T (2751)-Adams,M (2729)/Baku AZE 2008 (39)] 9.Nc3

9...Ne7! This is the critical position for the whole line. Here White had tried few moves and because of this I had to spend a lot of time in my home preparation. 10.Qd2 With the idea 11.Bf4! Here I understood that my oponent is playing for a win since: [10.Bh4!? is leading to totaly drawish positions- 10...0–0–0 11.Bg3 Qf6 12.Qh5! (12.Qd2 was tried in the game Rozentalis,E (2588)-Ivanchuk,V (2703)/Kallithea GRE 2009) 12...Qxd4 13.Qa5 Qb6 14.Qxb6 cxb6 15.Na4 Nd5 only move 16.exd5 Bc5 17.Nxc5 bxc5 18.Rad1 Rhe8=; 10.Be3 c5 11.Nde2 Qxd1 12.Raxd1 b6 13.Nf4 0–0–0 14.Nfd5 Ng6 15.f4 f6= Tan,M (2321)-Negi,P (2597)/Hoogeveen NED 2008; 10.Nb3 Qxd1 11.Raxd1 Ng6 12.Be3 b6 13.f4 0–0–0 14.a3 f6 15.Nd4 Bd6 16.g3 h5 and Black was better in Volokitin,A (2671)-Caruana,F (2646)/Wijk aan Zee NED 2009/] 10...c5! The only move in my opinion! 11.Nb3 Qxd2 12.Bxd2 b6= 13.a4 0–0–0 14.Be3 [14.a5 better is Be6 rather than(14...c4 15.Nd4) 15.Bf4 Kb7 and I prefer black here. After the exchange ab6-cb6 black will get rid of his doubled pawn.] 14...a5

Probably better is 14...Be6 but I wanted to fix the pawn on a4. 15.Rfd1N A new move but not the best one. I believe it was better to place the other rook on the d-file. I can understand why my opponent chose Rfd1–the reason is to protect the pawn on a4. [15.Bf4 f6 16.Rfd1 g5 17.Bg3 Bg7 18.f4 gxf4 19.Bxf4 f5 20.e5 Ng6 21.Bg5 Rde8 22.Bf6 Rhg8 23.Nd5 Bc6 24.c4 Nxe5 25.Bxe5 Bxe5 26.Ra2 Rg4 27.Nd2 Rd4 28.b3 Bxd5 29.cxd5 Bf4 0–1 Iuldachev,S (2520)-Sethuraman,S (2415)/New Delhi IND 2009/The Week in Chess 741] 15...Re8?! Like usual after a novelty it is always difficult to find the best reply. My idea was not to exchange the rook on the d-file and to keep it working on the e-file-(for example f7-f5 , followed by e4xf5 Bxf5 with the idea Nc6,Nb4 with an attack on c2) and I placed the rook on e8 almost instantly. However better was [15...Nc6 where black's position should be preferable.The idea is Nc6-e5-c4.] 16.Bf4 With the idea Nd5. After this move I spend a lot of time choosing between the moves f5,g6,Ng6 and Rg8 -the move that I played in the end. [16.Nb5!? was interesting, and probably this is the best move for white here.Anyway I think black should be fine after- 16...Bxb5 17.axb5 Kb7

followed by Ne7-c8-d6 and attack against the weak pawn on b5.] 16...Rg8 I believe Black is already better, since I will open the position with f7-f5 and than my bishops will be really strong. I can also first play g7-g5 and if the bishop retreats to g3 than after f7-f5, e4xf5- Ne7xf5 I will attack the Bg3. This might be important since my only weakness is the pawn on c7. Also now it is really hard for my opponent to decide how to continue because he does not really has targets for his pieces. He had the white pieces and went on for a solid line in the opening but failed to prove any advantage and now he has to fight for equality. This was probably quite frustrating for him. 17.Bg3 I believe this is the best move. 17...g5!?

I am still not showing my cards. Now I will have a choise between f5-f5 and Bf8-g7. [of cource the immediate f7-f5 was possible and maby even better. 17...f5 ] 18.Rxd7 My first reaction after this move was shock because I didn't see it. I was mentally prepared for a long battle with small, but durable advantage and no risk at all. Now I needed few minuts to calm down. I guess that my opponent was not happy with the course of the game and decided to change it rapidly. This could have been a good practical decision. [18.Nb5 I expexted this move and I guess it is objectively the best move for White but after: 18...Bxb5 19.axb5 f5 (19...h5!?) 20.exf5 Nxf5 with idea h7-h5-h4 Black is better.] 18...Kxd7 19.Nb5 Nc8! [I calculated first: 19...Rc8 20.Rd1+ Kc6 21.Na7+ Kb7 22.Nxc8 Kxc8 23.c3 But this gives a clear edge for White. So I forced myself to keep on searching for alternatives and happily I found the only move 19...Nc8. This was in fact the move that my opponent had missed in his calculations as he admitted after the game.] 20.Nxc7 Rxe4 the only move 21.f3 Re2 22.Rd1+ Bd6 23.Nd5 Kc6 24.Nxb6 Bxg3 25.Nxc8 Rxc8 26.Nxa5+ Kc7 27.hxg3 Rxc2 28.b3 Re8 29.Kh2 Ree2 30.Rg1 Re3 31.Kh3 f5 32.g4 f4 33.Rd1 Ree2 34.Rg1 Re6

White resigned. With this win I secured at least a tie for the first place. Later on, after all the games have finished I was pleasantly surprised to learn that in fact that final effort was enough for a clear first.


Kavala Open in Progress

The annual Open Greek Championship takes place in Kavala. After five rounds the amiable GM Alberto David was leading with a perfect score. Yesterday he made his first draw against the talented American R. Hess, and was caught by the Indian Sandipan Chanda.
The decisive three rounds are to be played.
My ex-student George Ketzetzis has sent me his nice effort against the top-seeded Russian GM. After some great chess, he completely outplayed his opponent, but the time-trouble led to abrupt finish of the game.

Ketzetzis,George (2222) - Belov,Vladimir (2627) [B18]
Kavala Open 2009 Halkidiki (3), 03.08.2009
[George Ketzetzis]
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nh3 [6.N1e2 Nf6 7.Nf4 e5 8.Nxg6 hxg6 9.dxe5 Qa5+ 10.Bd2 Qxe5+ 11.Qe2 Nbd7 12.0–0–0 Qxe2 13.Bxe2 Bc5= Novikov-Belov 1/2–1/2 2009] 6...e6 7.Nf4 Bd6 8.h4

8...Bxf4?! A dubious move. Black gives white the good bishop for the knight and also helps him a lot with his development. [8...Qc7 9.Nxg6 hxg6 10.Ne4 Bf4=] 9.Bxf4 h6 10.Bd3!?N [10.h5!? Bh7 11.Bd3 (11.Qg4!? Qxd4 12.Rd1?! (12.c3!?) 12...Qxb2 іs betetr for Black) 11...Bxd3 12.Qxd3 Nf6 13.0–0–0 with strong initiative] 10...Bxd3 [10...Qxd4 11.Be3 Qd5 12.Bxg6 fxg6 (12...Qxd1+ 13.Rxd1 fxg6 14.Ne4±) 13.Qe2 is slight edge for White; However- 10...Ne7 was better. 11.h5 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 and I have only slightly better position] 11.Qxd3 Nf6 12.0–0–0 [12.Qa3?! Qxd4 13.Be3 (13.Ne2?! Qe4) 13...Qg4! (13...Qd8!? 14.Rd1 Nbd7 15.Bc5 is unclear (15.0–0 Qe7=) ) 14.Rd1 Nbd7 15.Rd4 Qg6 16.0–0 c5 And black manages to castle.] 12...0–0 13.Ne2!? [13.Kb1 is also an advantage] 13...Qd5?! [13...Nd5 14.g4‚; 13...Na6! Black must create some threats on the queenside. 14.g4 Qd5! 15.c4 Qe4 Exchanging the queens.] 14.Nc3! Qa5 15.g4± White starts activity on the kingside while black has achieved nothing. 15...Nd5 [15...Nxg4?! 16.d5!! Was my idea as the queen remains cramped. 16...Nxf2

17.Qg3!! (17.Qd4? In the game I thought that this is the best move.. 17...Qb6!turns the tables in Black's favour- I had totally forgotten this move.) 17...Nxd1!? 18.Bxh6! f6 only move 19.Rg1 (19.Qxd1!? cxd5! (19...gxh6?? 20.Rg1++-; 19...exd5 20.Bxg7! is a strong attack for White) 20.Qg4! with excellent compensation) 19...Nxc3! 20.Rxg7+ Kh8 21.bxc3 Qxd5 22.Qg1 Qf5 only move 23.Re7 (23.Rxb7 Rg8 24.Bg7+ Kh7 25.Bxf6+ Nd7!! 26.Rxd7+) 23...Rg8 only moves 24.Bg7+ Kh7 25.Bxf6+ Kh6 26.Qxg8 Qf1+ 27.Kb2 Qb5+=; b) 17...Nxh1?? 18.Bxh6! f6 19.Rg1 Rf7 20.dxe6 Re7 21.Qxf6±; ) 17...Nxh1 (17...Nxd1?? 18.Bxh6 g6 19.Qe5 f6 20.Qxe6+ Kh8 21.Qe7+-) 18.Rxh1 Kh7 again an only move (18...Qd8 19.Rg1 g6 20.Bxh6 Qf6 21.Ne4 Qd4 22.Ng5!+-) 19.Rg1 g6! (19...Rg8

20.Ne4!! Nd7 21.Ng5+! hxg5 22.hxg5 Rgf8 23.Qh3+ Kg6 24.Qd3+ f5 25.gxf6+ Kxf6 26.Bd6!+-) 20.Ne4 Nd7 21.h5! Rg8 22.Bxh6 Qxd5 (22...Qxa2 23.Ng5+! Kxh6 24.Nxf7+ Kh7 25.Qf4!!+- Qa1+ 26.Kd2 Qa5+ 27.Ke2 Qa6+ 28.Kf3+-) 23.Ng5+ Kxh6 24.Nxf7+ Kh7 25.hxg6+ Kg7 26.Rd1 Nc5 27.Rxd5 exd5 with an advantage] 16.Nxd5 Qxd5 17.Kb1 Nd7 18.c4! Qa5 19.Bd2! The queen has to leave the fifth file so that black can not answer Qf5 after the g5 push. 19...Qd8 20.g5 h5 21.Bc3 Nb6 22.b3 A prophylactic move, so that my bishop will not be moved from his ideal position. 22...Qe7 23.Rhg1 [23.Qe2!? a5 24.d5±] 23...a5 24.g6 [24.d5!? exd5 (24...cxd5? 25.Qd4+-; 24...e5 25.f4!+-) 25.Rde1! Qd6 26.g6±] 24...a4 [24...Qxh4?! 25.Rh1! Qf6 26.Rdg1+-] 25.d5! e5 [25...axb3 26.Qd4!+-] 26.d6 Qf6 [26...Qe6? 27.gxf7+ Rxf7 28.Rg6 Qe8 29.Rdg1+-] 27.f4!!+-

27...axb3? [27...Qxf4 28.Rdf1 Qh2 29.Qf5!+- (29.Rh1 Qg2 30.Rhg1=) ] 28.Bxe5 bxa2+ 29.Ka1 Qe6 30.gxf7+! [30.Bxg7? Was my second thought. 30...Kxg7 31.gxf7+ Kh6! (31...Kxf7 32.Qh7+ Ke8 33.Rge1+-) 32.Qd4 Rxf7 33.f5! Qxf5 34.Qxb6 Qf6+ 35.Qd4 Qxd4+ 36.Rxd4=] 30...Rxf7 31.Rg6 Qxc4 [31...Qf5 32.Rxg7+ Kf8 33.Rdg1!+-] 32.Qg3! Kf8 33.Re1?! [33.Rxg7! Ke8 34.Qg6+- With mate in some moves would have been the easiest finish.] 33...Nd7 34.Rxg7 Nf6 35.Bxf6?? 50 seconds on the clock [35.Rxf7+! This variation, I saw after the game in the analysis room, in just two minutes.. 35...Qxf7 (35...Kxf7 36.Bxf6! Rg8 37.Bg7+-) 36.d7! Ng4

37.Qa3+!!+-] 35...Rxf6 36.Rge7 I pressed the clock in 00.1 and immediately resigned... 0–1