Monthly Archives: January 2009

Firing Away: Rounds 5-7 in Delhi

Well, the Parsvnath Open has ended, and I completed a pretty bad tournament. After four rounds, I wasn’t doing great, but I had 3 points. I then managed to score 3.5 out of the last 6 games, all against lower rated players.

I fell sick before the end of the tournament which spoiled my last 3 rounds. Here are a couple interesting moments from my games in rounds 5 through 7, when I scored 2.5/3.

In round 5, I had the black pieces against Sohan Phadke. I achieved a decent position after the opening, but then I made a rather poor decision which allowed him to open the position when he was better developed. After missing one nice defensive idea and then his main attacking idea, I was stuck in the following position after 21.Qh5!:


White’s simply threatening 22.h4, when Black’s kingside pawn chain falls apart. I played 22…Bd7, and after 23.Qg6+, my opponent offered me a draw! He was down to about 2 minutes at this point (with only the 30-second increment), while I had about 30 minutes left. The real problem for him, though, was that he had no idea how to win this position.

After 23.Qg6+, 23…Bg7 is forced (otherwise 24.Qh7 is mate). Then 24.h4 Be8 25.Qh7+! is the right idea – he was planning 25.Qxe6+? Bf7 26.Qf5 Ne7 27.Qh7+ Kf8 28.Bf1 (freeing the d3-square for the queen if 28…Bg8), but now that the bishop is no longer on d3, I can play 28…Bg6, trapping the queen. His position is lost after 25.Qxe6+? actually.

However, instead of 25.Qxe6+?, he should play 25.Qh7+! Kf8 25.hxg5 hxg5 26.a4!, hitting me from the queenside. The threat of 27.Ba3+ is simply too strong and Black’s position falls apart. When he offered me a draw with 23.Qg6+, I realized he had not seen this move, but I decided not to take the chance that he’d see it after 24…Be8, and so I accepted the draw offer.

In round 6, I had the white pieces against Shreynash Daklia Jain. I was expecting a Slav, but then he played 1.d4 Nf6, so I decided that rather than test his preparation, I’d just play the Trompowsky. The opening choice turned out to be a good one as he played a line that was once popular but is now considered a bit dubious.

In the following position, Black’s already in trouble – he can’t castle kingside, he’s going to lose the e4-pawn at some point, and his pieces aren’t very well coordinated:


To try and justify his position, he then went pawn-grabbing and fell way behind in development, but without any pieces out, his position simply fell apart once I ripped open the center. He played 14…Rf8 15.0-0-0 Rf2, which is actually the computer’s suggestion as well. However, I now just played 16.Rhf1 Rxg2 17.d6, when White has a huge lead in development and the win is not far away.

Black put up a fight with 17…Be6 (he needs to cover the d5-square, as otherwise Qd5 or Nd5 would end things) 18.Nxe4 Qd7, and now after a long think I played 19.Kb1!?. Actually 19.Qe1! was stronger, as the threats of opening the d-file, along with possible ideas of Qh4, are too much to deal with. I moved the king as I noticed that in a bunch of lines, …Bxe3 comes with check and an inopportune moment, and so Black can then try to plug the d-file with …Be3-d4. It’s a slightly odd move, but it happened to work out as Black still can’t get away. His pieces are too far away from the important part of the board.

In round 7, I played what was probably my best game of the event, as black against Rahul Sangma. Sangma beat Nigel Short in a Lopez in the Commonwealth Championships in 2008, so I knew he’d be somewhat dangerous. As is common with the Indian players, he didn’t have many games in the database, but the few he had against the French featured the Advance Variation. However, at the board, he started blitzing out the main line Winawer with 7.Qg4. I played the Poisoned Pawn Variation, giving away my g7- and h7-pawns, but when he continued to blitz out his moves, I decided that I would avoid any further preparation and deviated from the main lines.

The deviation was not objectively the best move in the position, but he simply didn’t realize at first how that small change should affect each player’s plans. I immediately achieved good counterplay and didn’t even end up down any material when my opponent played 23.g5, threatening 24.g6:


I now played the interesting 23…Bxc2 24.Bxc2 d3. At first, Black’s position looks overwhelming with two connected passed pawns on the 6th rank. White can’t avoid giving back the material, although he can try to do so under favorable circumstances. After 24…d3, Sangma was in serious time pressure (down to about 1 minute and 30 seconds), but he still came up with the correct 25.Rb5!. Now 25…dxc2 is bad because of 26.Qxc3, when the c2-pawn and c5-knight are en prise. Therefore, I played 25…Rd5!?, simply guarding the c5-knight and preparing to double rooks on the d-file. With his clock winding down, he played 26.g6, forcing 26…Rxg6 when Black can’t double rooks anymore. But after 27.Rxc5+ Qxc5 28.Bxd3, I now had 28…Qg1+ 29.Bf1 Rxg3, when the rook joins the fray from the g-file. He played the only move, 30.Rh1, but the endgame after 30…Rxf3 31.Rxg1 c2 32.Be2 Rb3 was a pretty simple win.

However, instead of 26.g6, he should have played 26.Rxc5+! Qxc5 27.Bxd3. I was planning 27…Rgd8, but then 28.Rxf7! c2 29.Ke2!! is surprisingly difficult to crack. Black is probably still better, but it took a while to find all the correct lines in analysis. It was interesting, as both of us thought that doubling rooks on the d-file would break White’s position pretty easily.

In any case, having played a few good games, I was sitting on 5.5/7 and thinking I had a chance to get back into the tournament. There was one player (GM Petr Kostenko) who was on a perfect score, followed by a bunch of players with 6.0/7.

Delhi – The first 4 rounds

I’m now through 4 rounds at the Parsvnath Open in Delhi, and I have 3.0/4.

They changed the schedule just a couple days before the event, and instead of having the first day have one game, and then two games on the second day, they made it two games on the first day, with one game a day thereafter. I won the morning round pretty easily, in the evening, I wasn’t thinking that clearly, and I lost rather badly to 13-year old Sai Krishna. He has the FM title thanks to an Under-12 championship title. In the middlegame, I failed to find a productive plan, while the standard King’s Indian attack on the kingside was all he needed.

Here was the position after 18…Bf8:


I played 19.Nf2?, which was a misguided attempt to hold back ..g5-g4. I saw the two better options for White there, 19.Rc6!? (which might lead to an exchange sacrifice on the c6 square), or 19.Qc2!, which threatens to invade with 20.Nc7 Rb8 21.Ne6. After 19.Nf2? though, I immediately ceded the initiative, and after 19…a6 20.Na3 h5 21.Nc4 a5! 22.Be1 Bd7 23.a4 Rg7, I was already on the defensive. Black’s attack later proved to be too strong to stop and Sai Krishna had a GM scalp.

That loss sent me way down the ranking list, and I played another much lower-rated player in round 3. That game was pretty easy for me, so I had 2 points after 3 games.

In the fourth round, I had the white pieces against FM Ashwani Tiwari. He used to be above 2300 FIDE in the late 1990s and 2000, but then has dropped dramatically since then. The game was a Dutch Defense, which was a complete surprise to me (I was expecting 1…Nf6). Without my knowledge, we were following a rapid game between Carlsen and Radjabov from 2007, before I deviated first. The surprise had its value, as he was not at all comfortable in the position. He spent 52 minutes or so on two moves in the middlegame, but didn’t come up with a good plan at all, and promptly shed a pawn. He tried for some compensation, but the resulting Q+P endgame was a pretty simple win.

Here was the position after 30.Qxh4:


Black played 30…Qd1+ 31.Ka2 Qxc2, and now I needed to find a way to bring my queen back to the center (preferably a square like d4 or d5), from where I cover the c4-square and protect my passed pawns. I played 32.Qh8+ Kc7 33.Qe5+ Kc8 34.Qe6+ Kc7, when I could safely play 35.f4. Black wasn’t able to stop the f-pawn from queening, and let his flag fall after 35…b5 36.f5 c5 37.Qe5+ Kb6 38.Qd6+ Kb7 39.Qd5+ Kc7 40.f6 c4 41.f7.

So I’m now sitting on 3.0/4, along with a whole host of other players. There were a number of upsets in the third round (and actually, in the second round when I lost, the 2670 FIDE-rated top seed lost as well), so there are only a few people on a perfect score. My roommate, Magesh Chandran is sitting on 3.5 points.

My Passage to India

I arrived in Delhi this morning (Wed, January 7th) with a little bit of excitement. The first two legs of my journey went pretty smoothly, as Emirates Airlines lived up to its reputation in terms of service along the SFO – Dubai and Dubai – Delhi legs. The food was good, as evidenced by the masala dosa they provided for breakfast (and there was more of it than I usually see in airline meals)! The seats are also a bit unlike other airlines’, in that when you push the seat back, the seat bottom moves forward too, so that it makes more of a natural reclining chair.

I had about 8 hours to kill in the Dubai airport, but it wasn’t actually too hard to pass the time. Because of the layover, the airline provided a free meal in the Emirates buffet restaurant. I wasn’t too surprised to see a Starbucks and Burger King in the very clean and modern airport, but I was a bit surprised to see Baskin Robbin’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Cinnabon as well. While waiting, I finished reading A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster, given to me by Jesse before I left. It was a pretty good book overall – some moments where it gets a bit heavy-handed or the dialogue is more stilted than it probably ought to be, but it doesn’t detract much from the overall effort. I’ve still got Aravind Adiga’s Booker Prize winning The White Tiger and the Library of America’s collection of Raymond Chandler’s Stories and Early Novels. After my loss to Friedel in round 6 of the Berkeley Masters tournament, I read Chandler’s Trouble is My Business in the evenings, so I decided to finish up with the rest of his short stories and also finish some of his novels.

I got to my hotel in Delhi a bit before noon today. I had lunch at Saravana Bhavan, a chain of South Indian style restaurants that has a branch in the Bay Area. The food was pretty reasonable, although the utthapam was miniscule for the price. I had to order a second dish after seeing it. My company though, was rather amusing – thanks to the organizer Bharat Singh showing up at my hotel, he took me to lunch with GMs Krishnan Sasikiran, Koneru Humpy, Chanda Sandipan, Neelotpal Das, and IM Ravi Lanka. These players don’t all live in Delhi, but thanks to the Indian system of salaried jobs for chessplayers from big-name companies, they all were in Delhi for a company outing with their sponsor, ONGC. After lunch, we congregated outside for a bit, where to our surprise, we were joined by GMs Elizbar Ubilava (Anand’s former second) and Abhijeet Gupta (the current World Junior Champion, and winner of the 2008 Parsvnath Open with a massive 9.0/10). They had eaten there as well (but on the first floor, so we missed them) after doing some preparation for Corus. The restaurant certainly doesn’t get that strong a chess clientele in Sunnyvale …

January 2009 FIDE Ratings


Here are the rating changes of the current members of GM House:

GM Vinay Bhat: 2495 (-2 from 2497 in Oct 2008)

GM Josh Friedel: 2511 (+14 from 2498 in Oct 2008)

GM Jesse Kraai: 2506 (+4 from 2502 in Oct 2008)

IM Irina Krush: 2457 (+5 from 2452 in Oct 2008)

IM David Pruess: 2422 (no change since Oct 2008; no FIDE rated games)

We generally started working together more starting in December, so the fruits of those labors will show up in the next rating list (April 2009). At the Berkeley event, Irina was the only one to gain any points I believe.