Friday, 13 April 2012

Sydney International Open Day 3

I started day three in horrible fashion, losing to New Zealand junior Luke Li on the white side of an e6 Trompowsky in a relatively quick game. The e6 line is something I have had difficulty playing against in recent years, particularly when my opponents choose to play in a similar manner to a French Defense, as Luke did in our round 5 clash. This time I had the weakness on d4 sufficiently protected, but it was my queenside pawns that collapsed before allowing Luke to invade with his rooks.
In the second game of the day I played Women's International Master Emma Guo from Canberra. After a difficult opening (I always find it tricky to get the right move order early on in the Philidor's), I managed to find myself in a playable position when I thought I could win a piece with 14...Qa5, only to find out that winning the piece would leave my queen trapped. Although retreating would be a reasonable option, I decided to see what I could get for the queen & realised I was able to end up taking a rook, bishop, knight & pawn for my queen & knight, so decided to go ahead with things & play a position with an unusual material imbalance. After a few exchanges, Emma decided to grab my a-pawn with her queen, which allowed me to use my remaining rook, bishop & knight to generate mating threats against her king. Ultimately Emma decided to return the queen for a rook to stop the checkmate, leaving me with bishop, knight & 4 pawns against Emma's knight & 5 pawns. Emma fought on trying to draw the position, in once instance trying to leave me (after some pawn exchanges) with a potential bishop & wrong-coloured rook pawn ending, but I avoided this & calculated that although Emma could take my last remaining pawn, I would trap her knight. This left me with a task that I don't think I have ever had to do in a tournament game - checkmating with bishop, knight & king against a lone king! Once I had taken Emmas's knight, she still had an a & h pawn remaining, so I decided that I would leave her h-pawn on the board (making sure to have the promotion square defended by my bishop) & improve the position of my other pieces before capturing the final pawn. This would allow me to have more room for stuff-ups while trying to checkmate before the 50 move rule draw kicked in. Although initially I was a little rusty, I managed to checkmate reasonably efficiently ... in spite of not using the 'W' method that I had remembered was one of the techniques for winning the position.

Today I start with yet another tough morning pairing - black against Jason Hu! Somehow I don't remember things being this tough when I played in the SIO a few years ago! Let's hope I can score another point at least today!

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