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.


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