Saturday, December 19, 2009

Malaysian Masters Finals, Game 2

Nicholas Chan - Mas

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. g3 Bb4 4. Qb3 Nc6 5. Bg2 Nd4 6. Qd1 O-O 7. e3
Quite an unusual move order in this English Opening. Early queen move to b3 without first stopping ...Nd4. The e-pawn is not well placed here. White will need to move the e-pawn again to bring this queen bishop out.

7...Bxc3 8. bxc3

Now 8...Nc6 9. e4 we get back to a more common position in the English.


This is an unusual place for the knight. Black wants to put the knight on c5 and entice white to play d4 weakening the c-square.

9... Qe7 10. Ne2 Nc5 11. d3 Qd6 ?!

Surely Mas did not think that Nicholas dropped a pawn?

12. d4 Ncxe4

Others are equally bad, both 12...Na6 and 12.. Ne6 are answered with 13. f4 and white wins a pawn with a very strong position (13...exd4 14. e5 wins a piece)

13. Qc2 Nxf2 14. Kxf2 Ng4+ 15. Ke1 Re8 16.Qf5

The point is that 16. h3 exd4 threatens ..d3 forking queen and knight. So Nicholas moves his queen away. But black still complicates with 16...exd4 anyway. 17. Qxg4 d3 wins back the piece and opens the e-file.

The best plan is to drive the black queen from the d-file with 16. c5. Now 16...Qa6 17 h3 and black has no tactical replies as 17...exd4 is answered with the simple 18. cxd4.

16...exd4 17. Bd5? Nf6 18. cxd4 c6 19.Bf3 Qxd4 20.Rb1 Qxc4

Black already have compensation for the piece due to the inaccurate white moves on 16th and 17th.

21.Bb2 d5 22. Qf4 Ne4

Black threatens ...Qc2 and with the white pieces totally disorganized, white is helpless.

23. Rc1 Qxa2

Black has five (!) pawns for the piece and white's king caught in the center. Mas will go two up.

24. Bh5?

Nicholas hopes for some counter play and to capitalize on Mas shortage of time. 24...g6 25. Bd4 gxh5 26. Qh6 and now 26...f6 27. Qxh5 Bd7, its time to prepare for the next game

24. Bd4 also loses to some neat tactics, 24..c5! 25 Bxc5 Qa5+ forks the bishop and king. Or 25. Rxc5 Nxc5 27. Bxc5 Rxe2+! 28. Bxe2 Qa1+ 29. Bd1 Qc3+ forks again.

24...Be6 25. Rf1 Qxb2


So Mas leads two points to nil. Since this is a six game match, it is still not over, lots of things can happen in four games.

Personally, I think that Nicholas strategy of pressuring Mas on time is correct. Unfortunately for him, he is making more mistakes from playing too fast.

Nicholas is known for his blitz skills. In fact he won an online blitz tournament before ahead of many grandmasters a few years ago. But in the two games played so far, he has yet to demonstrate this tactical ability.

So will Nicholas continue this strategy or try to match Mas with some real chess?
Not easy especially when he needs to win two games to level the match.


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