Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 1 of Parsvnath Chess Open 2011.

The day 1 of the very prestigious Parsvnath Open was filled with great surprises. And the reason for that was the accelerated pairing! And also partly because no player can offer a draw till move 30!!
What does accelerated Pairing actually mean?
the total entries for this tournament are 400.
So, quite simply the players are cut into 2 sections for the first 2 rounds.
top 80 players play against each other and the rest 320 play against each other.
My seeding being 58th, i had to play the 18th seed and he was our Indian GM S. Arun Prasad(2513).

He is the 18th GM of India and also a pretty strong GM with an elo high of nearly 2580.
First of all i feel that the organisers were wrong in keeping 2 rounds on day 1. that too for the top half of players it was a very tiring day having to play 2 strong players.
As for my room mates, Sohan Phadke and Vinod Bhagwat it was a big challenge as their train was delayed by nearly 18 hrs and they reached at 7 am in the morning.
Lots of Kudos to Sohan for playing two IMs in a day (Rathnakaran and some Chinese IM) and scoring 1.5/2!
I would also like to speak something about the accelerated pairing system but more about that later.
Now,Lets check my game against Arun Prasad.
I came to know about the pairing around 5 am in the morning. He played 2-3 systems with black so i spent around 1 hr preparing for slav. I knew he could play King's Indian and that indeed was his choice but i was quite confident with my pet system.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Nf3 0–0 5.Bg5

The Smyslov system, invented by the World Champion Vasily smyslov has a very simple idea. White refrains from play e4. True he gets less space advantage but black also doesnt have the e4 pawn as a target. The play is highly original and i like to play with white pieces. I have a secret hope that some day people after seeing my games will start playing this system more often!!
5... d6 6.e3 c6 7.Be2 Nbd7 8.0–0 a6 9.a4!? usually white doesnt make this move as the b4 square is weakened but here the N is already developed on d7 and has less chances of coming to b4. but of course this is a double edged idea.
[My earlier intention was to play b4. this leads to usually equal positions and would have been a good choice as this was just the 1st game. 9.b4 b5 10.a4 bxc4 11.Bxc4 a5 12.b5²]
9...a5 immediately clamping onto the b4 square. 10.Qc2 Qc7 11.Rfd1 usually this is the right rook as the queenside rook looks after moves like b4 and queenside expansion. but here with the moves a4-a5 already played i am sure that Rad1 was a better move.
11... Re8 12.h3 this move has to be explained a little. earlier when the rook was on f8, h6 Bh4 g5 Bg3 Nh5 was met with Ng5! and white wins a pawn but now the f8 square is vacated for the king and hence i dont want to lose my dark squared B and i play this move. e5 13.Bh4 (by now i already had a lead of 25 mins on the clock and was quite satisfied with my position).
exd4 the most critical moment of the game. how would you recapture on d4?
14.Nxd4 this was my choice. however it isnt the most accurate.

with this move i take more space in the center and dont give up the c5 square. my worry was 2 fold. 1 i wanted to attack the weakness on d6 but after ed4 the d file is getting closed. but what i must understand is that black is cramped now and lacks a good play where as white can keep on increasing his space with moves like g4,Bf1-g2.
my 2nd worry was more concrete and that was the move Nh5 but well its a case of when you have decided psychologically on a move, you try to find some illusionary fault with other moves! Here Nh5 prevent Bg3 and thretens to infilitrate on f4 but simple Qd2 should do the trick and then g4 is of course a part of our plan, when i guess white should if not have a huge then atleast a small edge! ]
14...Nc5 The N immediately occupies the super strong square on c5. sometimes we feel that by giving up one square we dont have to worry much because other things are going in our favour. for eg in this position, the d6 pawn weakness. but it is important to understand that once the d6 pawn is defended then the c5 N will become very irritating and that is exactly what happened. this a typical case of dynamic advantage vs static one. i have to be quick!
15.Bg3 Bf8 of course this move is a concession but this B is like a House wife. the house wife takes care of the home making it easier for other members of the family to fulfil their aims. similarly here the f8 B says that i will look after d6 so that rest all of you can do your job!
16.Re1!? at this point i was stuck for a plan. yes the N on d4 is nice but i have to remove it if i want to attack d6 but if i remove it then Bf5 will follow. so i really didnt know what to do until i found an idea of trying to get in e4. the other rook will come to d1 then the B will drop back to f1 and then i can get in e4 and with no tension of Bf5 i can easily move my d4 N and attack the weakness on d6. but this happens in our world of dreams. on a chess board you have an opponent right in front of you waiting to pounce on any opportunity to stifle your plans!
16...Qb6 17.Rad1 Bd7 18.Bf1 so far so good. just give me one move e4 and i will prove that white is better here!! Nce4! nothing doing! the N firmly entrenches itself on the e4 square.
19.Nxe4 Nxe4 20.Bf4 f5! At this point i realised that now i could move my N as the f5 square no longer available for the B but the problem is that black has made good progress with his pieces and gained good space. white isnt worse here. the position is equal but i would say its more pleasant to be black. 21.Nb3 Qb4 22.Nc1?! ultra passivity is a sure shot way to disaster! why not simply play f3 here? well i was afraid of c5. this is a terrible move and after a simple a move like Nc1 Ba4 will be met with b3 and then, the point is in the bag! and so white would have had good chances after f3.
Be6! suddenly the only weakness on d6 which was helping me to play this position with some hope is going to be dissolved with d5. 23.Na2 Qc5 i speant a lot of time thinking only about Qb6 as i thought that c5 square must be left vacant for the N. but of course Qb6 was losing the d6 pawn . 24.Nc3? carelessness. loses a pawn. i guess f3 should still have been preferred.Bxc4! 25.Nxe4 Rxe4 i just didnt see this rook coming into the game! 26.Rd4 Bxf1 27.Qxc5 dxc5 28.Rxe4 fxe4 29.Kxf1 c4! black has a huge majority on the queenside which he converted with ease!

We will see round two game against P Karthikeyan. but first lets enjoy a few pics from delhi!

A beautfiul view from the New Delhi Station. (photographer: Atul Dahale)

The double room in Hotel Ginger where four of us, me Atul, Vinod and Sohan stay!

The beautiful venue of Parsvnath 2011. This hall was used for the wrestling competitions of 2010 commonwealth games!

Lets now see the game 2 of the day. It was against a very talented young Indian IM
P Karthikeyan

His current rating is 2380 and he has 1 GM norm. He was also the Asian Junior champion in the year 2008.

IM P.Karthikeyan (2380) v/s Sagar Shah (2318)
The game started with a quiet opening but soon took a vicious character. Lets dive into the very interesting game.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Nc3 Bb7 5.Bg5 Be7 6.e3 Ne4 7.Bxe7 Qxe7 8.Qc2 f5 9.Bd3 Nxc3 10.Qxc3 c5
All seems to be happening quietly and we both were taking considerable time in the opening which suggested that none of us was very well versed with this opening.

11.0–0–0!? Suddenly the game is filled with life. A very interesting move and one that can be expected from a player like Karthikeyan who is very innovative and aggressive.
0–0 12.Kb1 d6 (Nc6 would allow d5 and hence i decided to develop my N on d7.) 13.Rhe1 Nc6 14.dxc5 (e4 was also interesting. cd4 Nd4 Nd4 Qd4 e5 is met with ef5! and white is better. but after the game karthikeyan said that he didnt want to exchange the Ns. bxc5 15.e4 at this point white has already snatched the initiative fxe4 16.Bxe4 (I realised that fighting against the powerful B on e4 is futile and hence sought to exchange it.) Nd8 17.Qd3 Bxe4 18.Rxe4 Nb7 (my idea is very simple, i will sooner or later play e5 and then i will have only one weakness on d6 which will be defended by the N on b7. true my position will be passive but then its not so easy for white to make progress. 19.h4 h6 20.Qe3

After the game my opponent told me that here he was thinking if only his pawn were on f4 in this position then he would have been clearly better but here he has nothing more than a symbolic advantage. But look how my co-operative play helps my opponent to fulfil his dream!
Rf6? (e5 was simple and would have kept whites advantage to a minimum) 21.Nh2! the N is heading to g4 when my e6 pawn would be under terrible stress.the sad part now is that e5 will be met with f4 when black will have to incur further weaknesses. Re8 22.f4 Rff8 23.Nf3

this is what is meant by,"when you really want something, the whole world conspires to let you get it! here even though i was his opponent and as a good chess player i must stop my opponents idea, i couldnt stop white from achieving his dream position even though i had all the time in the world to do so!
white now has a clear advantage.
At this point i decided that things have already gone really bad for me and hence it would be wise if i would save some time and start playing fast! at this point we both had 20 mins left and the next few moves i just played as if i were playing a blitz game!
Qf7 24.Re1 Qf5 25.Ka1 Rb8! played without thinking. my strategy was really getting on the nerves of my opponent who just could find a clear cut path to victory. 26.Rxe6 Qxf4 27.Qc3 Qg3 28.h5 Rf7 29.Rg6 Qf2 Karthikeyan told me that he didnt even consider that the Q could go here but of course from here it is right in the heart of enemy position and attacks the very vulnerable spot on b2.30.b3 a5! blacks moves are natural and hence were made without much thought. 31.a4 at this point i still had 20 mins and he had just 5 min left! and here i noticed a brilliant idea!
Try if you can find the best practical way for black to set maximum problems for the opponent.

d5! 32.cxd5 c4! with this double pawn sacrifice black snatches the initiative. Under time trouble you can imagine how uncomfortable it must be for white to face such an attack and hence he logically exchanged the queens... 33.Qd4 Qxd4+ 34.Nxd4 Nc5! but that did very little to stop black's attack! all the pieces still co-ordinate perfectly! 35.Rc6 here he offered a draw!but i declined it! Nd3 (exchanging Ns with Nb3 would have led to a draw) 36.Rd1 cxb3 37.Nb5 Rf4 and here i stupidly offered a draw which he happily accepted. well the position is defintely advantageous to black but then why did i offer a draw? well the answer lies in this variation 38.-- [38.Rxd3(Nc3 is a much more staunch defense and its unclear whether black can win there). Rxa4+ 39.Kb2 Rxb5 40.Rc8+(better is 40 Rd1. but to 40.d6 i had calculated Ra2 Kc3 b2 d7 Ra3! Kd2 Rd3 Kd3 b1=Q+ and the game is over!) Kh7 Rb3 Rd5 Rb8 and here i thought my king was caught in a mating net but as it clear for all of you, black has 2 ways to escape the mate and both win pretty easily! A terrible hallucination! Hence its very clear that chess is no science! its all about holding your nerves at the crucial moment!] ½–½
Me after the game. Sad at not having won the game but equally relieved at not having lost it!
After the 1st day of accelerated pairing i was reeling at 0.5/2! not the best start either!
A word about accelerated pairing.
The accelerated pairing was introduced in this tournament with the aim that players above 2250 could make a norm and hence there was no need to play lower rated players. this could have been justified if the players who were rated 2250 and were 2/2 got a higher rated player in the 3rd round also. As the case was they all got lower rated opponents and hence the very purpose of accelerated pairing was defeated!
I think accelerated pairing can be very useful in tournaments where the number of participants are around 150 but not in tournaments like Parsvanath where there are nearly 400 entries! Something the organisers must think about.