Last I blogged, I had 3.0/5 in the Quebec Invitational with 4 games to go. In round 6, I had the white pieces against Francois Leveille. As Dana Mackenzie noted in the comments to the previous post, Francois had won a game with quadrupled f-pawns against the American IM Jay Bonin in the 1990s!
Here’s a position from that crazy game:
I hadn’t noticed this game in my preparation for him, as I was playing him with the white pieces, but it’s pretty amazing to get quadrupled pawns in one game. I can’t remember ever having it, even in a casual game!
My own game with Leveille was less exciting – it finished in 17 moves when he realized he would be lucky to escape just down a piece. In the following position, he played 15…a6?:
There are a few tactical motifs to notice here. The first is that the queen on d7 is only guarded by the knight on f6, so if the knight leaves, then White’s queen will be pinning the knight on c6. The other is that the queen and bishop on h5 can potentially both be hit from the d5-square. This motivates the following combination starting with 16.Nxd5!. If now 16…Nxd5, 17.Nxc6 bxc6 18.Rxd5 hits queen and bishop; the pawn on c6 can’t capture the rook because the queen on d7 is now hanging, while the queen can’t find a square that is safe and guards the bishop on h5. Thus, Black loses a piece.
That bumped me up to 4.0/6 and in the next round, I had the black pieces against GM Anton Kovalyov. He was born in Ukraine, then grew up in Argentina, before moving to Montreal a couple years ago. At only 17 years and 2571 FIDE, he is clearly quite talented. I was a little bit worse after the opening, but thanks to some precise defense and tactical shots, I managed to equalize and accepted his peace offering. I now had 4.5/7.
In round 8, I had the white pieces against the lowest rated player in the tournament, Ling Feng Ye. He had won a qualifying tournament the day before the Quebec Invitational started to get the last spot in the event! I got some advantage after the opening, then threw it away and had to work hard to get an advantage back. I didn’t let the advantage go a second time, though, and the win pushed me up to 5.5/8. With Roussel-Roozmon’s win over Sambuev, this meant that I was guaranteed a top-4 finish and one of the qualification spots in the prestigious Montreal International. However, Roussel-Roozmon could still catch me with a win in the last round, so I definitely had something to play for.
In the last round, I had the black pieces against GM Mark Bluvshtein of Toronto. He was leading the tournament at that point, with a whopping 7.0 out of 8 games. As a credit to him, though, he wasn’t looking for a quick draw to finish the tournament. In fact, he had the option of repeating the position for a third time (with Nd4-f5/Re8-e6) and turned it down here:
White can double Black’s pawns on f6, but the problem then is what to do afterwards. There is no easy way to target the pawns, and Black can play against some of White’s weaknesses (the c4-square, the b4-pawn, the e4-pawn, etc). With a 22-minute to 2-minute advantage to reach move 40, Mark decided to push by playing 25.f4?!. However, after 25…Nc4, Black is already on his way to seizing the initiative. The game concluded quickly and brutally: 26.e5 Ra3 27.Qb1 Nd5 28.Nxd5 cxd5 29.Bf3 (on 29.Nxb5, Black has 29…Ra4 and the b4-pawn can’t be saved) h6 30.Bh4 Qa7 31.Kh1:
Now I dropped the hammer on him with 31…Rxf3!. After 32.Nxf3 d4!, the bishop on b7 is alive and kicking. Mark played 33.Rf1, but after 33…Qa3, he threw in the towel. There’s no good way to defend the knight on f3. For example, 34.Kg2 allows 34…Nd2, with a very strong fork.
That win brought me to 6.5/9 and clear third place in the event. Kovalyov won his last game to move up to 7.5, while Mark was in second with 7.0. Roussel-Roozmon got the last qualification spot with 5.5.
The Montreal International begins at the end of August and features an all-star cast headed by French super-GM Etienne Bacrot (2728 FIDE!). The average rating of the 8 seeded players (not those of us who qualified) is 2664 FIDE, which makes it a category 17 event! With us included, it drops to a category 15 event. The website for that event is at: http://www.echecsmontreal.ca/.
As for me, the chess continues with the World Open in Philadelphia. I’m in the 7-day schedule which started tonight – I drew against GM Vladimir Potkin (2621 FIDE, 2721 USCF). It’s been a long time since I played up in the first round of a swiss tournament!