Trip to Lviv - part II
As precise analysis showed, a lot of mistakes and errors were made in the games I looked at - my games, that is. However, it must be mentioned that such a high percentage of mistakes is partially due to the fact that all games were fought relentlessly till the end, without any GM draws. Only 10 out of 45 games were eventually drawn, one of them - because one of the players couldn't make it to the round due to work constraints.
After a short draw in the 1st round, I was psychologically ready for the tournament. In order to gain confidence, I chose my favourite line in what Russians call "early Sveshnikov", with 4...e5.
Psaila,Clarence (1849) - Aronin,Pavel (2071)
Grandcoach friends, Lviv (2), 19.06.2010
I just played 15...b5, but I didn't seem to find any fighting plan after logical 16.Bb2. There could follow 16...Nxd5 17.Nxd5 with raw equality; however it is somewhat easier for White to play. 17..Bxd5 does reduce the tension on the queenside, but it gives White a pair of bishops without feasible compensation. After 17...Bf6 Rybka finds the elegant 18.Bxd4!, and if 18...exd4, then 19.cxb5! with the idea of 19...Bxd5 20.Qh5 +/=. White's plan could be playing on the queenside, allowing Black to try to do something on the kingside. It seems like after 18.Bxd4 I should play 18...Bxd5 19.cxd5 exd4 and try to make a draw.
Clarence played well till now, but this is the point where he started to go wrong. 16.Nxf6?! is already imprecise, but then another mistake came: White followed it with 16...Bf6 17.Qh5?. I guess Clarence missed that the bishop on e6 was already protected, and so after 17...g6 White reluctantly had to retreat. After 18.Qd1, it would be dead wrong to win such an exchange with 18...е4. Instead I played 18...Bg7, and Black's pieces are quite harmoniously placed. No surprise there - after all, I got two extra tempi in a complicated position.
There followed 19.Bb2 Qh4 20.cxb5? (another mistake - White should not weaken its grip of d5 square, and a White knight should be placed there). After 20...axb5 21.g3 Qf6 22.Be4 Qf7!
White is suddenly worse - Black are controlling the d5 square, while it should be the stronghold of White! Now Black is ready to meet 23.f4?! with 23...Qa7, however this is exactly what followed, bringing White on the verge of defeat - there are too many holes in White's position, while all Black pieces are deployed into action. Instead of 23.f4, I guess White should just wait and see what Black does - the position is still tense and unclear.
Here is the position after move 30:
I saw that 30...Bd4 would practically finish the game - I didn't calculate 31.Re1 Bxf2 32.Kxf2 Rc2+ 33.Qxc2 Qd4, but it's clear even without the calculation. However I decided to forse matters with 30...Qe2?, and if Clarence would reply with 31.Re1!, suddenly the position would become rawly equal! White is just in time to capture on d3, as well as defending f2 - 31...Qb2 32.Rb1 Qxa2 33.Qxd3 Rc2 34.Qe3!, and White is fine. Rybka goes on with 34...g5!?, but there's no doubt Black missed its chances. In the game, however, there followed the blunder 31.Qd3??, and it was over soon. 0-1
Pondering over 15...b5. Clarence from Malta was the heart of our company during the tournament. He arrived to Lviv with his Mongolian wife Urna and his son Ocean. Moreover,he arrived already in April and stayed there for three months! He is an economist, but he hates the office work. In Lviv, Clarence was teaching Vladimir English, while Vladimir gave him chess lessons instead. I employed some of his professional pieces of advice in ping-pong, and it worked quite well for me! (see part I). Clarence always prepares himself for the opening and is definitely a very hard guy to beat.
The game against Cla was a very complicated one. During the game I thought I was playing just fine, but as the analysis showed, things were much more complicated...
Aronin, Pavel (2071) - Mathieu, Cla (1811)
Grandcoach friends, Lviv (7), 22.06.2010
1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. c4 e5 5. Nc3 Bg4 6. d5 a5 7. Be2 Ne7 8. Be3 Na6 9. Qd2
Some kind of Uitelcky/Pirc hybrid arised on the board. I was ready to play the KID, but Cla chose a different move order. I guess now a simple 9...0-0 would do.
8...h6?! Now Be3-Qd2 battery proves itself. Here I sank into deep thought trying to find a plan. I decided that f7-f5 is a must for Black. Moreover, the f3 knight doesn't do much, waiting to be exchanged. Combining those thoughts, I decided to prevent both. I guess it was better to play less original, but natural 10.h3 Bd7 11.0-0. 10. Ng1!? Bd7 Black correctly avoids exchanging bishops. 11. g4
I underestimated Black's counter chances - there could follow 11...Nc5, or 11...g5, or even 11...h5. Each of those moves lead to a totally unclear and unbalanced position. However, Cla decided to go on "as planned", probably missing the h5 check.
11...f5?! 12. gxf5 gxf5 13. Bh5+ Kf8 14. f3?! White should open the game with 14.exf5 Nxf5 15.Nf3. There is still a lot of play, but White is clearly better due to the misplaced Black king.
14...Be8? After 14...f4! 15.Bf2 Nc8
White would find it tough to find a road to advantage. Schematically, Black could place its bishop to h4, knight - to b6, rook - to g8. Black king is feeling much better - the position is closed. In the text, Black exchanges the "poor" White bishop, that could find its way out of the main action. 15. Bxe8 Kxe8 (15...Qe8 would be slightly better) 16. Qg2
During the game, I thought it was the most concrete way to go on. Chess is an amusing thing: during the post-mortem, Vladimir pointed out that 16.f4 is most logical here, since Black king is stuck in the center, while its White colleague can find an asylum on the queenside. I totally agreed - after all,it's such a natural move to make. For some reason, I didn't consider it during the game - believe me, it wasn't for the reason below! During the analysis, I gave this position to Deep Rybka 4, waiting to see some crushing line. Here is the astonishing result: going deep, Rybka gives the incredible sequence of 16...exf4! 17.Bxf4 Nc5 18.exf5 Nxf5 19.0-0-0, and now comes the shocking 19...Kd7!! The position deserves another diagram.
It's hard to believe, but somehow Black manage to coordinate its pieces, and it's an unclear position! No doubt, Rybka is a beast!
However, Rybka seems to do much worse when maneuvering. It recommends 16.0-0-0 with the following Nge2, practically forcing Black to play f4. Then one of the knights goes to b5,and the other one takes its post on c3. The evaluation is slowly degrading, but is still +/=. I couldn't find any plan in what Rybka tries to do - ideas, anyone?
16...Rg8 17. exf5 Qd7 18. Ne4 Qxf5 I saw the problem of this setup during analysis - it is just that Black could recapture with the knight anyway, after 18...Kf7 or 18...Bh8!. The text move is possible, but is slightly worse. 19. Qd2! Kd7 (19...b6 was bad because of 20.Bxb6!) 20. Qxa5 Bf6 21. O-O-O Bh4 21...Bg5 was much better, aiming to exchange the strong bishop of White's. 22. Qb5+ Kc8
23. c5? This blunder is a result of me being too oriented to play aggressively. White could lead its king to safety at a1, and let Black "reveal its cards". After the text move, White's advantage is no longer there. 23...dxc5 Maybe it was even better to play 23...Nxc5 24.dxc5 dxc5 25.Qxc5 Ra6! (25.d6?! Nc6 26.dxc7 Kxc7). 24. d6 c6?? 25. Qb6?? Another blunder, this time a mutual one. 24...Nc6 made it all an unclear mess, while after the text move, 25.dxe7 Qxe4 26.Qxb7 won easily.
25... Nd5 My head stopped working, and I remember I didn't even see this move. However, I was still under the impression I am much better - only that now it had no grounds. 26. Rxd5 cxd5 27. Nxc5 Rg7 28. d7+ Rxd7 29. Nxd7 Qxd7 The unbelievable 29...Be7!!
could lead to a totally unclear position, where Black has the initiative. White knight will perish soon - it will be captured by the king of the queen, depends on the situation. Black pieces are quickly developed, and it's White who has to fight for equality!
30. Qxh6 Qc7+? Cla was probably as tired as I am, and he is the last to make a mistake in this game. This check just helps White, the knight cannot join the attack from b4 because of check to f8, and White gets a priceless tempo for consolidation. After the correct 30...Bd8 it's not clear who is better. White's extra pawn is hardly a match for Black's pawn pair in the center. 31. Kb1 Be7 32. Ne2 Kd7 Loses instantly, but the Rc1 threat was already the decisive one. 33.Qh3+ Kd8 34. Qh8+ 1-0
The story about Cla's musical talent is still to come - here I would like to apologize in front of him. First of all, I failed to translate many of the things me and Vladimir talked about during our mutual walks, and sometimes when I did translate, it was so lame I wouldn't even understand myself. Second of all. while sitting at the restaurant a few hours after the game, I was already so drunk that I kept insisting on Cla helping us (Vladimir,Clarence and myself) finish the vodka bottle, and Cla declined my offer time after time. with great politeness. All I can say in my defense - a drunk guy is a drunk guy I wouldn't be so pushy if I were sober! I would really enjoy meeting Cla in Lviv next year, if we both will be able to make it.
There was also a blitz tournament on Friday. Among tournament players, only Danilo, Serhiy, Cla and myself came, but GMs Oleksienko,Zherebukh, Kravtsiv and Andrey Vovk were a great reinforcement, as well as GM Mikhail Kozakov, a club trainer, together with a young student of his. Martyn Kravtsiv took the first place, Misha Oleksienko was the second, and Danilo took the third - he really demonstrated wonderful blitz skills and rightfully surpassed all the others. My game with Cla was decisive in the battle for the first place - from the end. I left this place for Cla, by beating him, but losing to all the rest.
First and third prize winners
First round. Second place winner is warming up by playing the outsider.
The closing ceremony was very nice as well: cakes, tea, beer with "vobla" - but the main part of the evening was Cla's performance. As I mentioned in the first part, Cla is a professional classical guitarist. As soon as we learned about his expertise, Cla was informed that he's going to perform at the closing ceremony. He didn't try to resist, but beside the fact that it wouldn't help - I think (or at least hope) that it wasn't much of a bother for him.
After Cla's wonderful performance we sang a few Ukrainian songs, and I can say "we" because I memorized the words of one of them by heart. When I mentioned it, there was a little unease in the air which made me think that I might be one of the few present who knows the words. However, when we started, nearly everyone joined the singing. You can find a link to my favourite version of this song here .
GM of guitar Cla Mathieu
Chess club ha? Yeah right...!
This was only the beginning of the evening. After getting "warmed up" in the chess club, we proceeded to the "Kryivka" pub made in the cellar where Ukrainian partizans escaped the Red Army. There is no sign at the entrance - after all, it's a hideout. The selector is an enormously large guy wearing an Ukrainian military uniform. His first question is: "Are there Russians among you?" If there are such (or at least claiming to be Russian), they get a double shot of Ukranian honey vodka to prove their stamina. Others get a single dose. Mykhailo told him that I'm Israeli, but as far as our hideout host was concerned, I could pass for being from, say, Likhtenshtein or Greenland - I don't think he could tell a difference. Anyway, I got myself a decent doze of honey vodka.
I think the pictures will speak for themselves - visiting the pub was a great way to say goodbye to Lviv. I will remember the neat and old-style streets of the Old City, countless cosy caffees with great food, warm and welcoming Lviv people. I want to take this opportunity to thank Vladimir once again for organizing the tournament as well as making our stay as interesting as it was; Mykhailo and Natasha - for putting together and implementing a program of my acquaintance with the city and for the great present which you can see me wearing at the first part picture. Also, I would like to thank the tournament participants for the games and their company. Hopefully, it's "see you" rather than "goodbye" !
Ok I ask again - WHERE IS MY BORTSCH!!????
Having fun in "Kryivka". By the way, this is the most popular site for the Russian tourists visiting Lviv.
Kiev, the day after. Posing with my sister and two of my nephews.