Monthly Archives: February 2009

Chess culture, or a lack thereof

At the Parsvnath Open in Delhi, there was a good amount of press coverage by Indian standards and massive amounts by American standards. Even the US Championship is not fit for print in most papers it seems, whereas in India, even minor tournaments can get some press coverage.

Because the Parsvnath Open is the biggest open event in India each year, as the tournament wound down, it received a few paragraphs of space on the front page of various Sports sections. And throughout the event, there were photographers, reporters, and some TV crewmembers taking footage of the event. Actually, there was one cameraman (Vijay Kumar) who got most of the top players to say a few words after all their games – I remember that I wasn’t so happy to talk about my loss in round 2 (to Sai Krishna) right away, but I obliged.

In any case, here’s a snippet from one Hindi daily about me:



“Now we’re colleagues!”

Last Tuesday, January 27th, I gave a short talk about my trip to Delhi. The game I talked about was my game against Rahul Sangma (which I described here), which I considered to be my best effort from Delhi. The audience wasn’t too big at the start (maybe about a dozen people?), but then grew to be quite large as the Tuesday Night Marathon crowd came in. I ran a little over the time limit, and so all the games started a few minutes late because of me. Oops.

Prior to that lecture, Sam Shankland, Josh Friedel, and I all received our official FIDE title certificates from John Donaldson. Sam got his IM title by tying for first in the World Under-18 Championship in Vietnam in 2008, while Josh and I both got our GM title certificates.

Here’s the picture, to commemorate the occasion:


After we received our certificates, Jesse Kraai, who completed his GM title in 2007, welcomed us to the club by saying “Now we’re colleagues!” I guess we’ve finally been accepted into the GM House …

Rounds 8-10 in Delhi: Falling Apart

This is a long time coming, but I should wrap up the Delhi tournament at some point. In my previous two posts, I talked about my games from rounds 1 through 7 at the Parsvnath Open.

Going into the 8th round, I had 5.5 points, and had a chance to play on the top few boards with another win. I had the white pieces against IM G.B. Prakash – he has 3 GM norms, but never hit 2500 FIDE, topping out at 2495 before coming back down. I was a bit under the weather before the game, but I didn’t feel too bad going into the game.

The opening was a surprise (a Stonewall Dutch), and while I hadn’t prepared anything special for it, I just played some normal moves to get a pleasant position. The following position was reached after 11…h6:


Black is not all that well developed, while White has all his pieces out. Thus, it made sense to me to play 12.f3 here, threatening to open the center and the entire board with 13.e4 next. This was where the first of two interruptions took place. Justin Sarkar was the only other US player at the event, and his cellphone made some sound at this time – his opponent claimed a forfeit win, as per FIDE rules.

The arbiters asked around and it was agreed his cellphone had made a sound, and so his opponent was given the full point. But Justin wasn’t very happy with this decision and argued with the chief arbiter, saying that since the phone had not rang, he should not be forfeited. However, the FIDE rules seem to say that any sound from a phone counts for disqualification.

Still, Justin was upset and continued to argue outside the tournament hall. The chief arbiter then came over to our board, stopped the clock, and asked me whether I could try and explain to Justin that the forfeit was simply the execution of FIDE rules. The arbiter also asked my roommate (and former UTD student), GM Magesh Panchanathan, to talk to him as well, so the two of us went outside to calm him down. After about 15 minutes or so, we returned to our games.

After the further moves 12…g5 13.Be3 Nbd7 14.Bf2 Rb8?! (I don’t get what this move does, but maybe Black was planning to play 15…b5 in case I did nothing myself) 15.e4 dxe4 16.fxe4 Ng4 17.Qe2, Black played 17…e5?:


Now I should have played 18.exf5 Nxf2 19.Nxf2 exd4 20.Qe6+, when after 20…Rf7, White has 21.Ng4 winning! Unfortunately, I stopped my calculations after 20…Rf7, thinking the knight on c3 is hanging while Black is threatening to move his knight from d7 to cover the kingside. This was the first win, and a clear one, that I missed.

Instead, I played the “safe” 18.dxe5, and after 18…Ndxe5 19.Bxa7 Ra8 20.Rcd1 Qa5 21.Bd4 Bc5 22.Kh1 Bxd4 23.Rxd4 Qc5 24.Rfd1 Be6 25.exf5, the following position was reached:


This was the second rather strange moment of the game – the arbiter announced that everybody should stop their clocks and get up from their boards! He gave the reason as well, but it wasn’t until I asked GM Abhijit Kunte what was going on that I understood that the World Champion, Viswanathan Anand, was coming to the tournament venue. There was about a 10-minute interruption while he came in, was presented with a couple gifts, and met a few people. This interruption was rather silly, though, as it forced all the players to stop their games at a critical moment. At the Dubai International, for example, they stop the game for namaz in the middle, but the games are scheduled such that the break comes just after the game starts, not about 3 hours into the game!

Anyways, after this stoppage, we returned to the board and my opponent played 25…Bxc4, after which I promptly played 26.Qd2?. I had been planning 26.Qe1 since I played 22.Kh1, but then during the break, I realized that he could play 26…Nd3?. In order to avoid this extra option, I just played the queen to d2. Unfortunately, I missed that after 26…Rxf5 27.Ne4 Qf8 28.Nd6, Black has 28…Nf2+ 29.Nxf2 Rxf2, attacking my queen and stirring up serious trouble around my king. Sadly, had I not thought about the position during Anand’s visit, I wouldn’t have seen the bad Nd3 move, and so would have played 26.Qe1, after which Black is in big trouble – 26…Rxf5 27.Ne4 Qf8 28.Nd6 leaves Black’s Bc4, Ne5, and Rf5 all in danger.

Anyways, after this second blunder, my position on the board and the clock was difficult. I “escaped” into a rook and pawn endgame, but with one extra pawn in hand and a better rook, he had no trouble winning the game.

Now with 5.5 out of 8, I was no longer in contention for first place, and the following day, I was really quite sick. I was black against IM Sudhakar Babu, who played a rather insipid opening with 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c3 Bf5 4.Bf4. I had already told Magesh before the game that I was going to offer an early draw, and I did just that after 10 moves. My opponent was standing up at the time, and didn’t even bother sitting down before extending his hand.

The final round was the following morning at 10 AM (a practice which I’m not such a fan of), and I had the white pieces against Joydeep Dutta. He was the recipient of the forfeit win against Sarkar in the 8th round, and needed a win against me for an IM norm.

The opening was a main-line Slav (one that I normally play with the black pieces in fact!), but I was still not fully recovered and was thinking very slowly. After some risky play by Black, the following position was reached after 24.fxe3:


I expected 24…b3, after which White enjoys some advantage with 25.Bb4. It’s not a lot, but with the bishop pair and a weak b3-pawn, Black has some work to do. However, my opponent played 24…f6!?, which attempts to complicate the issue in my time trouble. I was still thinking about what to do with my clock ticking down just below 1 minute and 15 seconds when my opponent offered me a draw!

I thought for a few more seconds, then decided to accept. I was leaning towards 25.Bxb4 fxe5 26.Rac1, when I thought White was better, but that maybe Black had some counterplay – as it turns out, the best plan is 25.exf6 Rf8 26.Kg2, when White is just much better. Even though it was clear I didn’t exactly know what to do, my opponent decided that the risk of losing was not worth the upside of getting an IM norm, and so offered me a draw. I don’t think it’s the right decision, but I guess he thinks he will have many more opportunities to get his norms.

So I finished with only 6.5/10, a rather poor result given that I played down all 10 rounds. I lost a bunch of rating points, to take me back to about where I started when I began this blog!