The final tournament of this tour for me began a couple days ago. So far I’m on track with 2 wins in 2 games, both against much lower rated players. Benidorm is a pretty big swiss tournament, which creates some serious mismatches in the first round.
I had the white pieces against Jose Joaquin Bas Mas (1962 FIDE) in the first round. Here’s how the game went: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 e6 3.Nd2!? (3.e4 is the main move) c5 4.Ne4!??!. This is the first time I’ve played this strange move in a slow game, although I had played it twice in rapid games. In one, against IM Sandor Kustar of Hungary, he didn’t react very well and played the insipid 4…cxd4 5.Qxd4 Be7. This doesn’t test White’s opening experiment at all, and I quickly gained an advantage and later won the game.
My young opponent played the correct 4…Qa5+, and the game continued 5.Bd2 Qb6 6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.Nxc5 Qxc5 8.c3 (so as to meet 8…Ne4 with 9.Be3, when Black now doesn’t have 9…Qb4+ at his disposal). He played 8…d5 9.g3 b6?! 10.Bg2 to get to the following position:
Now he played the lemon, 10…Ng4??. This is the logical continuation of the idea with 9…b6 – Black wants to provoke e2-e3, after which Ng4-e5 and Bc8-a6 will cause White some serious headaches. However, White can make us of the whole board with 11.Qa4+, winning the knight on g4 for free. My opponent resigned here, making this the 2nd shortest decisive game I’ve had (when my opponent showed up to play) since at least 1994.
What’s the shortest game? Well, it started out exactly the same way as the Bas Mas game up until 9.g3. My opponent, Frank Haas (2185 FIDE, Germany), now dashed out 9…Ng4??, allowing the same motif with 10.Qa4+. He resigned on the spot as well. At least he had the excuse that it was a rapid game and he was blitzing out all his moves.
In the second round, I had to work much longer, playing a game that lasted about 4 hours. I had the black pieces against Rafael Del Valle Domenech (2137 FIDE, Spain). For most of the game, my opponent got up after every single move he made, and this cost him quite a bit of time. I tend to walk around quite a bit, but this was too much for me to even consider. He lost quite a bit of time on the clock when he was just walking around.
The game was a Semi-Slav and after 12 moves, we reached the following position:
Last summer, I had this exact same position against GM Delchev in Balaguer. He played the most testing move, 13.Nc3-e2 here. With Black’s queen on e7, White reroutes the knight to g3 to provoke a kingside weakness with …g6. That game quickly became very complicated and each of us had chances to win.
In this game, my opponent played 13.dxe5?!, and only after 13…Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 did he play 15.Ne2. However, the situation has changed now, and I played 15…c5!, a resource I didn’t have in the Delchev game. If White takes the pawn on b5, he loses the pawn on e4. He played 16.f4, but after 16…c4 17.fxe5 Ng4! White’s position is already tough. The bishop on d3 is lost, and meanwhile White’s pawn structure is worse. He was nominally up a pawn after 18.Bxc4, but 18…Rac8 19.Nc3 Rxc4 20.Qe2 Nxe5 recovered the pawn with a better position. White’s pawn structure is clearly worse. The b5-pawn is taboo because of …Qc5+, picking up the knight.
After gradually improving my position, we reached the following position after 30.Qb6:
I played 30…b4 31.axb4 axb4 (31…Qxb4 will transpose) 32.Na2 Bxe4 33.Qxb4 (33.Nxb4 fails to the same tactical idea) Qxb4 34.Nxb4 Bxg2!. The bishop is hanging, but so is White’s rook on e1. After 35.Rxe5 dxe5, the bishop is still hanging, but now the other White rook on f4 is hanging! The h3-pawn is also en prise, so he has to further misplace the rook with 36.Rh4. I duly won the endgame.
There are 10 rounds here in Benidorm and I’m the 21st seed. With 8 rounds to go, I should have some chances to play some strong players in the remaining rounds.