Saturday, September 21, 2013

A chess professional talks about chess as a pro

Being a chess pro.

Maybe this is why we do not have many IMs and no GMs. Everything GM Gormally wrote about British Chess Federation applies  to Malaysian Chess Federation as well.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sabah Grande Chess Open

The Sabah Grande Chess Open is currently in progress with round seven currently in progress. The event is held after the inter-state team tournament and many of the players were staying back to take part as the event boasts a USD 1,000.00 first prize. Such strong players as Mas Hafizul, Nicholas Chan, Yeoh Li Tian, Fong Yit San and Sumant Subramaniam together with Pinoys Nelson Villanueva and Oliver Dimakiling make this a interesting competition.

 This is a rapid event with twenty five minutes for each player. With such time control, there is bound to be a lot of excitement as players reach the last minutes of play. Below are some positions from the tournament with some amazing errors due to time trouble.

Hadani Abthar- Nicholas Chan, Round 1
 White has just played 1. g5 attacking the black knight. When you have an extra pawn it is always a good idea to exchange queens and just win the ending. Nicholas thought he had a forced exhange with 1...Qg4?? and after 2. Qa6+ Kb8 3. gxf6 he was just down a piece for two pawns. He still managed to draw.

Zaidan Zulkifli - Nelson Villanueva, Round 3

Zaidan is a whole piece up and that a-pawn is impossible to stop.
1. Rh7 Ke4 2. a6 Rb1 3. a7 Ra1 

White can just play 4. Kg2 as the bishop on e1 does not need defending. He can pick up the black e-pawn with 4. Re7+ Kd3 5 Kf3. Well, it's just one of those days

4. Rh8 ?? Rxa7 1/2-1/2

Oliver Dimakiling - Fong Yit San, Round 3
 If you think the previous game was heart-breaking take a look at this one. Yit San is a whole rook up. Pretty much anything wins , right?

1... Nxd4 

This is one of those moves in blitz where you just whip out in a flash because 2. Nxd4+ Rxd4 3. Kxd4 Kf4 and your pawn queens.

2. Nxd4 Kf4

Black realizes too late that there is a flaw in the above line. 2. Nxd4+ Rxd4 3. Kxd4 Kf4 4. Kc5 e5 5. Kb6 e4 6. Kxa6 e3 7. Kb7 e2 8. a6 e1=Q 9. a7 reaches a standard drawn position. But even without the knight he is still winning!

3. Nc6 Re1 4. Kb6 Rc1 5. Nd4 Rb1+ 6. Kxa6 e5 7. Ne2+ Kf3 8. Nc3 Rb3 9. Nd5 e4 10. Ka7 Rd3

The most straightforward win is 10... e3 11. Nxe3 Kxe3 12. a6 Kd4 13. Ka8 Kc5 14. a7 Kb6 15. Kb8 Rh3 reaching a text book win.

11. Nb4 Rd4 12. Nc6 Rd5? 

Simply 12...Rd1 and stop the pawn from behind, sacrificing the rook where necessary.

13. Kb6 e3? 

Last chance for 13...Rd1

14. a6 e2 

Now 14...Rd1 fails because white can block the rook with Na5

15. a7 e1=Q 16. a8=Q 

Although black still has winning chances if he has time on the clock the game was drawn after a few more moves in mutual time trouble

The seventh round has some sweet pairings -

Nelson Villanueva  - Oliver Dimakiling
Mas Hafizul - Yeoh Li Tian
Sumant Subramaniam - Abdullah Che Hassan
Nicholas Chan - Fong Yit San

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Selangor wins Inter-State

Inter-state competitions in Malaysia have not been held for quite a long time. This year the event is held in Sabah and has just completed today. Selangor and W.P. Kuala Lumpur both scored 20 match points. The former emerged champion based on higher board points.

Selangor had the strongest line-up with Nicholas Chan, Yeoh Li Tian, Sumant Subramaniam and Roshan Singh. It was hard to think that there could be any team that could challenge them. However in Round Five, the Kuala Lumpur team beat them decisively. Selangor could not even win a game in the match. The score :

Selangor 1 - Kuala Lumpur 3
Nicholas Chan - Mas Hafizul  0.5-0.5
Yeoh Li Tian - Zaidan Zulkifli 0 - 1
Sumant Subramaniam -  Camilia Johari 0.5-0.5
Roshan Singh - Lye Lik Zang  0 - 1

I have already written about Lik Zang in a previous post. He is one of our most talented junior after Li Tian and Aron Teh. Here he collected his biggest scalp in the form of a previous National Champion.

Roshan Singh - Lye Lik Zang after 1f4

White has just played 1. f4 and Black was quick to pounce.

1... Bxf4 2. exf4 Nxf4 3. Qe3 Qg5 0-1

 This is a familiar position in any tactical manuals; with the black queen on g5, knight on e3 and opponent's queen on e3. The twin threats of Qxg2 mate and Nxh3+ discovering attack on the queen on e3 is a standard tactical motif. In this position the defence 2. Qd2 is not possible because of the exposed bishop on d3 (2...Rxd3). Roshan resigned in this position.

However there is a saving tactic for white. He can take advantage of black's weakness on the back rank with 4. Be4! Nxh3+ 5. Kf1 Rxd1+ 6. Rxd1 and thewhite queen is immune from capture (6...Qxe3 7. Rd8 mate) so 6...Rf4+ 7. Bf3 Bxf3 8. gxf3. Black has three pawns for the piece and it is still unclear who will win.

Li Tian seems quite vulnerable to tactical combinations especially in time trouble. This is how he lost to Zaidan.

Yeoh Li Tian - Zaidan Zulkifli

Black's king-side is open but he has two passed pawns on the a-file and white does not have a dark square bishop which means it is not easy at all to take advantage of the situation. White should play slowly with Rg3 and h3 to free the white bishop to take part in the conflict. Instead Li Tian became too optimistic and began attacking operations straight away.

1. Rb7  Rd1 2. Rxf7 $4 Rxf1+ 3. Kxf1 Rc1+ 4. Ke2 Qe8+ 

 Now 5. Re3 Qb5+ 5. Re3 Qb5+ 6. Kf3 Qxf5+ 7. Kg3 Qg5+ is a perpetual. Instead white blundered

5. Qe3 ?? Qb5+ 6. Qd3

6. Kf3 Qxf5+ 7. Ke2 Qg4+ 8. Rf3 (8.Kd2 Qd1#)

8... Qc4+ 9. Qd3 Qxf7) 6... Qb2+ 7. Kf3 Rc3 0-1

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Kramnik takes World Cup

No surprise here, Kramnik drew the last game to secure the champion's title and prize of USD 96,000.00 (after FIDE taxes). However, I was surprised that Andreikin choose to play the English Opening in a must win game. Kramnik equalised easily and was already much better when Andreikin offered a draw. A few more moves and Kramnik probably would not accept anymore as Andreikin's position was falling apart.

In the post-game interview, Andreikin said he realized his openings were not ready for this (level) of tournament and his match strategy was always to draw the classical games and go for rapids/blitz. This worked well for him to allow him to advance until the Finals. Kramnik agreed that Andreikin "....should really work on his openings"!

There were many commentators who said that this format (short classical games of two and then tie-breaks of rapid/blitz) is ridiculous for qualification to the Candidates which chooses a Challenger to the World Champion. However, I must say that this is format is quite enjoyable for spectators like me who loves the tension of rapid and blitz tie-breaks.

Monday, September 2, 2013

2013 World Chess Cup Finals

The FIDE World Cup is currently in progress in Tromso, Norway  It started as early as August 10th with 128 players. The importance of this tournament is that the two players that reach the finals qualify for the 2014 Candidates to select the Challenger to the World Champion in the next cycle.

The Finals features former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik against Dimitry Andreikin. Both have qualified for the 2014 Candidates by reaching the World Cup Finals. They now decide who will take the lion's share of the prize fund, USD 120,000 for the winner and the loser still takes home a large pay check of USD 80,000.

Three classical games have been played with Kramnik winning one and the other two drawn. The fourth and last classical game will be played tonight (9:00 PM Malaysian time) and Andreikin has to win it to take the match into the tie-breaks. Even having the white pieces against a solid player like Kramnik, it will be a tough challenge. I predict the tonight's game will end with a draw and Kramnik takes the title of World Cup champion.