Round 9: Slovakia vs England
1. Christopher REPKA 2129 0.5-0.5 James HOLLAND 2204
2. Jergus PECHAC 1960 1-0 Craig WHITFIED 2010
3. Oliver SPACEK 1907 0.5-0.5 Henrik STEPANYAN 1956
4. Viktor HARING 1964 0-1 Peter BATCHELOR
Round 9 of 10 against a young Slovakian side promised to be a difficult match. Henrik was the first to finish, having played an interesting Tarrasch defence against the Slovak board 3. Actually, as he has done for most of the tournament Henrik got himself into a very nice position from the opening, but was overly worried about three white pieces circling around his king. Using up a lot of time, Henrik exchanged queens into an uncomfortable endgame which he drew using a three-fold repetition.
Craig suffered a bad defeat. Having prepared a main line Sveshnikov his opponent surprised him in the opening and Craig didn’t react in the best way. Having blocked his main source of play (the d5 square) it was left for his young (10 year old!) opponent to try to open the game up. White gave up a pawn to try and keep the position closed, but this extra pawn sadly trundled up the board and gave black the win.
Peter has grown in confidence through the course of the tournament, and played another fine positional game today. Having learnt all he knows from a Kasparov DVD a few days previously, he was happy to enter into a so called ‘Carlsbad’ structure, where he outplayed his opponent convincingly.
James tried something new against his opponent’s solid London System and clearly surprised him, quickly gaining a good position. However somewhere in the early middlegame James misplayed things, and his opponent managed to force black into a passive defensive position. James gave up a pawn to try and free himself, and in the end managed to hold what looked like a very difficult endgame.
So this draw leaves us in 17th place before the last round, tied with the Scottish on game points! We were hoping for a final round clash, but instead we have a downfloat to the UAE ‘B’ team. A good victory should push up towards the top 10. Let’s hope the boys can do it.
Round 10 England vs UAE ‘B’
1. James Holland 2204 1-0 Ali ABDULLA 1701
2. Craig WHITFIELD 2010 1-0 WFM Amna NOUMAN 1710
3. Henrik STEPANYAN 1956 1-0 Fareed AHMED 1711
4. Peter BATCHELOR 1-0 Ali Abdouli MAJED 1506
They did it! An absolutely superb effort in the final round saw us secure a 4-0 win. It didn’t look like happening though. Peter managed to win a nervy first game for us, but got his move order mixed up just out of the opening and could have lost a piece. Fortunately his opponent was playing too fast and missed it. Peter managed then to win a piece, only to expose his own king to a series of checks. Eventually they ran out and Peter mated his opponent.
Henrik was out shortly afterwards, having played what on the surface looked like a very a good positional game. However further investigation revealed a sequence of errors up to the end of the match. His opponent capitulated towards the end, eventually making the last mistake which allowed a nice tactical shot.
James played against a French Rubenstein variation, and his opponent seemed to allow James a pleasant advantage, with weakened black kingside pawns. Our board 1 remained patient, shuffling his pieces about but ceding the initiative to his opponent. Fortunately for us black decided in time trouble to blunder a rook and immediately resigned! I think James earnt a bit of luck for the way he played this tournament.
And that leaves us Craig, who, having obtained a small edge from the opening, almost immediately went into a complex ending. He probed away for what seemed like eternity before winning a pawn. However, in mutual time trouble he missed the opportunity to liquidate into a winning king and pawn endgame, leaving a (theoretically) drawn rook and pawn vs rook. But he continued to play, a good half an hour after every one else in the hall had finished. We missed lunch, but on he went! Eventually, on the 109th move his opponent resigned having missed a clever saving stalemate resource just a few moves earlier.
So this tremendous effort saw us finish 9th overall. Winners were Mr Kobalia and Russia, followed by Armenia and Iran, who edged out Azerbaijan on tie break for 3rd. The tournament, as ever was excellently run by the Turkish Chess Federation, and the boys seemed to enjoy themselves immensely (a good last round win helps!) Craig was very close to a board prize and picked up some valuable rating points, and the whole team chipped in at crucial moments with wins and draws. All is left is for me to go and bring our players down a peg or two with some table tennis lessons.
Monday, 31 October 2011
Round 9: Slovakia vs England
Sunday, 30 October 2011
World Under 16 Chess Olympiad, Ismir, Turkey 24-31 October 2012
The team weren’t too keen on the idea of the organised trip on the rest day, which the majority of the teams went on so we spent the day instead preparing for the Czech Republic and playing in the games room. I am delighted to (smugly) inform you that England’s finest players were no match for England’s finest coach on the table tennis table where I held off the challenge from James Holland and Peter Batchelor convincingly.
Round 7: Czech Republic vs England
With the rest day behind us, the England team came alive in Round 7, outplaying the Czech Republic and scoring a convincing 3-1 victory. Perhaps they should have spent the day preparing too?!
1. Tadaes BALACEK 2245 0.5-0.5 James HOLLAND 2204
2. Tomas KRAUS 2197 0-1 Craig WHITFIELD 2010
3. Petr CIZINSKY 2178 0.5-0.5 Henrik STEPANYAN 1956
4. Stepan SEIDL 2144 0-1 Peter BATCHELOR
Draw with black, win with white! Boards 1 and 3 amazingly followed each other for 15 moves after our players introduced a James Holland novelty in the Tarrasch defence on move 13. The Czech board three eventually erred and seemed to play the incorrect 16.Nfd4 which allowed Henrik the advantage. He always seemed in control of the position after that, but dropped his extra pawn and sensibly offered a draw with little time remaining.
James also comfortably held on board 1. His opponent played the stronger 16.g4, and seemed to obtain the slightly better chances. James though thought differently, turning down a draw only to offer one a couple of moves later with the position balanced.
Craig played the White side of a 6.g3 Sicilian Najdorf. A complex middlegame ensued, with a bad light squared bishop being compensated for by his pressure down the d-file. Somewhere under time pressure Craig’s position became really difficult, but yet again he was up to the task of defending well. In mutual time trouble black overpressed for the win, and Craig mopped up his opponents pawns and won the endgame.
Peter played a prepared line of the Anti-Grunfeld, which I had an unpleasant experience with recently at a tournament in Madrid. This idea seemed to work, as black used up a large amount of thinking time. Peter won a pawn in the early middlegame, before having to weather a little bit of black pressure. Eventually Peter traded down to a double rook and pawn ending a pawn up, which he converted expertly for his first win!
Round 8: England vs Armenia
1. James HOLLAND 2204 0-1 Karen GRIGORYAN IM 2473
2. Craig WHITFIELD 2010 0-1 Hovhannes GABUZYAN FM 2404
3. Henrik STEPANYAN 1956 0-1 Arman MIKAELYAN 2214
4. Peter BATCHELOR 0-1 Zohrak APRESYAN 2185
What to say about Round 8? Well, firstly that we were unfortunate to get a 4 point upfloat to play the Armenian team on board 2. But actually I was pleased with the draw, even if the players weren’t. Much better to test yourself against the best than not I told them. And test them we did.
Well, most of them! Craig, who was been playing absolutely tremendously, and before the round was leading the overall standings for board 2 went down quite easily to his nearest rival, the strong Armenian board 2. After being surprised in the opening, Craig gave away a pawn, and his position collapsed quite quickly after that.
The other three games were very tense, and at one stage it looked like we were going to win 2.5-1.5. James was surprised by his opponents ‘North Sea Defence’ (1.e4 g6 2.d4 Nf6 3.e5 Nh5?!) using up a fair bit of time, and getting a slightly worse position. However a clever pawn sacrifice turned the tables in his favour. At a critical moment in the middlegame James missed an opportunity (28.Bxe6!) to enter an endgame 1, or more likely 2 pawns up. Amazingly the Armenian player wriggled out of trouble, and with James running out of time won a king and pawn ending.
Peter played his Caro-Kann main line again, and got a perfectly acceptable position from the opening. His opponent played a neat tactic which seemed to win (24.Rxg4!). But as is the English way this tournament Peter defended superbly, finding a series of only moves up until a critical moment on move 30, where a slip allowed his opponent to consolidate his extra kingside passed pawn and convert the endgame.
Henrik was the last out, again losing but missing his chances during the game. Having chosen to surprise his opponent with 1.d4! his opponent responded in turn with 1…c5!?. Henrik closed the position, before launching an attack on his opponent’s king on the dark squares. He sacrificed an exchange and had his Armenian opponent on the ropes, missing a series of knockout blows. Mr Apresyan defended very well, managing to co-ordinate his rooks and with it the game.
So the team is a little deflated, but only because we had excellent chances to get something from the match. Tomorrow we face the young Slovakian team, which promises to be a close game.
Friday, 28 October 2011
Round 5: England vs Kyrgyzstan
1. James HOLLAND 2204 0.5-0.5 Bakai Uulu ESENBEK
2. Craig WHITFIELD 2010 1-0 Talia TAILAIBEKOV
3. Henrik STEPANYAN 1956 0.5-0.5 Aidar KENENBAEV
4. Peter BATCHELOR 0.5-0.5 Kelsinbek ISAKZHANOV
By the teams admission we were lucky to beat Kyrgyzstan today, but will happily take the win! About halfway through the session, 3 of the 4 games looked like losses, with James seemingly coasting to the solitary point. What never ceases to surprise me about these events, no matter how many times you come to them is that trying to make predictions about the results based on the positions is completely pointless.
James was out first, but not with the result we had predicted. Having played another smooth attacking game with white against the Sicilian (this time a Scheveningen) his advantage at one stage was in the region of +11 on the computer (that’s a lot!!) However as he missed his opportunities, and his clock started running down things got more and more complicated and in the end had to sacrifice a rook for a perpetual check ‘Craig Whitfield style’.
The man himself was finding life tough going on board 2. Playing against another grand prix attack against his Sicilian, Craig gave himself a weakened queenside pawn structure, and was somewhere between worse and clearly worse for almost the entire game. What was very impressive was the way that he held on, refusing to panic and offering an exchange sacrifice for some compensation towards the end. Rather than take it, his opponent rather generously left a piece ‘en prise’ to a simple tactic and promptly resigned!
Henrik was out next, having been taught a lesson in how not to play the white side of the Kings Indian (he was white ). After allowing black to unleash his ‘Kings Indian’ bishop free of charge, and finding nowhere to put his king I feared for his position. Once again though our player showed his tenacity and somehow managed to push his opponent into a drawn opposite coloured bishop and rook ending a pawn down which Henrik held.
Peter’s game was the last to finish in the entire playing hall. He played down a well known line of the Queens Gambit declined. In fact the whole game was of a high quality, with White possessing a miniscule advantage for a lot of it. Seemingly having had enough of draws Peter bravely sacrificed a piece for some pawns (soundly), but a slip in concentration allowed his opponent a decisive advantage. The favour was returned later on in the endgame, and Peter secured a hard fought draw.
So, tomorrow is a rest day! The organised trip involves a visit to a local museum, followed by some shopping. Not quite as dramatic as the ‘journey to hell and paradise’ we were offered on my last visit to Turkey for this event. Plus it also involves getting down and up the mountain, which will cut into the trip by a good couple of hours. So we will see- it may be blitz with the Scottish (again) and some preparation for a difficult looking 7th round pairing against the Czech Republic.
Green Park resort Kartepe, from the outside
Thursday, 27 October 2011
Round 4: Turkey ‘Kocaeli’ vs England
1. Sergen ATAY 1685 0-1 James HOLLAND 2204
2. Oguzhan ERTEKIN 1599 0.5-0.5 Craig WHITFIELD 2010
3. Samet Burak CILDIR 0-1 Henrik STEPANYAN 1956
4. Mert Efe KILIC 1606 0.5-0.5 Peter BATCHELOR
Our second match against a Turkish team, and another 3-1 victory. This time we were playing the local ‘Kocaeli’ province side, and we were disappointed not to score the full 4 points.
Henrik was out first, having played a nice attacking game where his opponent went wrong straight out of the opening and Henrik capitalised nicely.
James chalked up a second win soon afterwards. His young opponent also made a lot of passive moves in the middlegame, and our board 1 collected an exchange before finishing the game nicely.
Craig was really disappointed not to win. He played another strong attacking game against his opponents Pirc, but when on the brink of victory he hesitated with his attack and Mr Ertekin managed to survive, and possibly could have played on for the win.
Peter got nothing out of the opening with white. In fact for a lot of the game he was a bit worse. The advantage wasn’t significant however and the game was drawn.
Round 5: Kazakhstan vs England
1. Alibek IGAMBERGENOV 2259 0.5-0.5 James HOLLAND 2204
2. Ayan AKHMETOV 2158 0.5-0.5 Craig WHITFIELD 2010
3. Dinara SADUAKASSOVA 2193 1-0 Henrik STEPANYAN 1956
4. Adilet ZAURENBEK 1973 0.5-0.5 Peter BATCHELOR
Amongst the young chess talents here at the Olympiad you also find the stray grandmaster, helping to coach their side. There are at least three here this tournament (I suspect the Azeri coach is also quite useful). Legendary GM Artur Jussupow at his peak was number 3 in the world (behind Kasparov and Karpov). Also a legend of the game, GM Mikhail Gurevich is the national trainer of Turkey. The third super GM present, and the highest rated player at the event is GM Mikhail Kobalia (current elo 2674) who is training Russia.
The fifth round was a really good effort from the boys. James and his opponent blitzed out about 20 moves of Tarrasch theory, before arriving at an equal looking middlegame position. Fireworks then ensued, with James winning a pawn with a neat tactic. However the situation wasn’t as clear as first thought, and in the complications James’ opponent missed what looked like a winning move. The game ended in a perpetual.
Craig played an enterprising game on board 2, choosing the same line against the French which served his so well in round 1. His opponent snatched what looked like a hot pawn (actually it turned out to be a good decision), and Craig went ‘all in’ sacrificing a knight to open up the opponents king. In the end more fuel went on the fire in the shape of a rook, which ensured a perpetual check.
Henrik got the opening he wanted, and managed to equalise fairly comfortably. However his opponent, an experienced WFM then started to outplay him. In the end Henrik got a knight trapped which finished the game.
Peter also got the opening he wanted, a Fianchetto Kings Indian, which we had looked at earlier. He played the position well, and it looked at one stage as though he had a clear advantage. His opponent managed to steer the game into an endgame with opposite coloured bishops a pawn down, which Peter couldn’t convert.
So blissfully, no double round day tomorrow! We have an important game however against Krygyzstan in the afternoon however, so stay tuned and watch the games live (2pm UK time) at http://wyco2011.tsf.org.tr/
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Round 2: England vs Turkey ‘Turkuaz’
1. James HOLLAND 2204 1-0 Fatma Ayca DURMAZ 1816
2. Craig WHITFIELD 2010 1-0 Busra SOYDA 1747
3. Henrik STEPANYAN 1956 1-0 Aleyna YIGIT 1729
4. Peter BATCHELOR 0-1 Nisan ULUSOY 1646
This was obviously going to be an easier match on paper, but the Turkish girls team had taken a point off a strong Czech Republic side in the previous round, and from past experiences the Turkish teams are always well dangerous and well prepared.
Peter played down a main line Caro-Kann, and through a sequence of good moves obtained an advantage. However, he overpressed, and allowed a dangerous passed pawn which eventually decided the game in white’s favour.
James played what seemed like a very smooth game. He sacrificed a pawn in a Sicilian Najdorf, leading to some pressure which black was unable to extract herself from. A nice tactical shot at the end brought home the point. It can be found below.
Craig was out next, again playing a nice game against a grand prix attack. He closed the kingside and started counterplay on the queenside, which white was unable to cope with.
Henrik finished things off with a funny looking English, which I never got even close to understanding. He sank a bishop deep into his opponent’s position on d6, and after cementing it there in a strange middlegame opened up lines to effectively attack the black king and win.
Round 3: England vs Syria
1. James HOLLAND 0.5-0.5 Ismael KHABBOUR
2. Craig WHITFIELD 2010 0.5-0.5 K.A. Adm CHEKH 1891
3. Henrik STEPANYAN 1956 0-1 Basher IYTI 2225
4. Peter BATCHELOR 0.5-0.5 FM Wade AL-TARBOUSH 2251
The second of the rounds for the day, and a funny looking board order from Syria, but a match we really should have won based on situation in the games. James got a large advantage against his opponents Taimanov Sicilian, and missed a couple of clear wins before his opponent sacrificed his queen to obtain a fortress like position which James was unable to break down.
Craig played a premature central break (also in a Taimanov Sicilian) and missed a strong attacking idea on the the kingside. However his opponent let him off the hook, and through a series of excellent moves Craig turned the game to his advantage. In the final position Craig was better, but couldn’t see a way to take advantage of this and the players agreed a draw.
Peter played a superb game to neutralise his FM opponents attacking chances. Peter grabbed a pawn before playing like Fritz to get a really good position. However his opponent always had some chances, and eventually managed to force a perpetual check with both kings wide open.
Henrik played a good game, where he was always slightly better. His higher rated player however refused to take a repetition, and Henrik went into a king, bishop and pawn ending. Tragically, one move before the end Henrik went astray missing an intermediate check which cost him the game.
So the first double round day is over, and another is just around the corner (tomorrow!) The players didn’t seem too tired however, and were in good spirits, spending most of the evening playing blitz and exchange with the Scottish team who are also here.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
World Under 16 Chess Olympiad
Ismit, Turkey, 24-31 October 2012
The English team has arrived in the Kocaeli province of Turkey, and more specifically Ismit (the capital) for the 2011 World Youth Under 16 Olympiad. We are staying and playing at the luxurious Green Park Kartepe resort, 1200metres above sea level. The link to the hotel is here (though I think it’s all in Turkish!)
Having arrived yesterday we are now suitably acclimatised and have taken part in the traditional Turkish parade through the city waving our English flags!
The English team for this event is James Holland, Craig Whitfield, Henrik Stepanyan and Peter Batchelor, ably assisted (I hope) by me. They seem excited and ready to go.
Round 1: Azerbaijan vs England
England ready to go in Round 1……
1.GM Nijat ABBASOV 2470 1-0 James HOLLAND 2204
2. IM Ulvi BAJARANI 2434 0-1 Craig WHITFIELD 2010
3.FM Kanan IZZAT 2238 1-0 Henrik STEPANYAN 1956
4.Misratdin ISKANDAROV 2300 1-0 Peter BATCHELOR
It couldn’t have been a much more difficult start (no really it couldn’t- Azerbaijan are seeded 2nd) with 3 titled players and their full strength team taking us on. James played into a Tarrasch defence to 1.d4. His 10…d4 looked a little premature, and he quickly found himself under pressure, and eventually lost a bishop and pawn endgame
Craig faced a French defence (despite preparing for a Najdorf!) but quickly obtained a promising position. His opponent grovelled around for some time, and Craig’s clock ran dangerously low. However, after turning down a draw offer the Azeri IM erred and Craig’s queenside pawns decided the game. An absolutely fantastic result!
Henrik found himself worse in an endgame after playing a passive line. Despite his best efforts he was not able to extract himself and a neat tactic allowed his higher rated opponent to win.
Peter played a good opening, and found himself a little better in a fianchetto variation of the Benko gambit. However he sadly failed to find the correct plan in the middlegame, and overlooked a tactic which allowed his opponent to win the exchange, and later the game.
Craig’s fine effort can be found below:
Tomorrow is a double round day, so don’t expect much with the reports! All the games can be followed live at http://wyco2011.tsf.org.tr/
Thursday, 20 October 2011
I'm just back from a lovely 10 days in Madrid, playing in the second Oliver Gonzalez Memorial tournament. It was actually being held in Leganes, just outside the capital but I stayed in the centre, just off the famous 'Gran Via' street.
I found Madrid a really captivating, energetic city heaving with people (especially after midnight, when they took over the bars and restaurants) The food was particuarly good, and I would definitely recommend a trip to the city at some stage in your life.
As far as the chess goes, I found myself on 4/4 after a relatively easy start and a good victory in round 4 over IM Almagro Llamas (2466). Unfortunately a shocking game followed, and a defeat 2 rounds later to GM Khamrakulov (2503) left me on 5/7. I managed to win my final two rounds (in very lucky fashion in both cases!) to end up in 8th place, picking up 8 rating points and a bit of money.
Aside from the chess the organisers went out of their way to ensure that the event was fun. With the games starting at 6.30pm, many side events were organised alongside the chess including Karaoke Nights, a magic show, a football match and tour of the Bernabau stadium, and a gastronomical evening.
All in all an excellent tournament, and I hope to return to Madrid in the very near future.
Sunday, 9 October 2011
Monday, 3 October 2011
But the trip was not a waste of time. Plenty of sun, swimming and even a few sangrias. I even managed to do some chess as well! GM Simon Williams was excellent company, and I learnt quite a bit of chess from him during the trip, which I hope to put to good use in future tournaments.
Speaking of future tournaments during the trip the World Under 16 Olympiad was confirmed so I'm looking forward to that, as well as filling my schedule for November with two closed GM tournaments in Hungary and Poland.
Next stop is Spain again though-flying to Madrid on 8 October for the Second Oliver Gonzalez Memorial. The homepage is here