Gibraltar Round 4 Report

Yesterday I managed to make it to the top of the rock and took the following picture of the tournament venue.

An ideal venue for some serious chess
An ideal venue for some serious chess

Today I made it onto the live boards. To celebrate this fact I played my dullest game of the week

I was white against Frenchman Romain Christophe-Hayot (1793), and after 21 moves we reached the following position

White to play
White to play doesn’t understand the position

Here my idea had been to play f3 followed by e4. This would be fine if black exchanges his f pawn after for example 22. f3 Ng7 23. e4 fxe4 24. fxe4 dxe4 25. Bxe4 or 23… dxe4 24. fxe4 f4, but I started to wonder what would happen if he just played pushed his pawn to f4 and kept it there – say 23…f4 24. exd5 exd5 and then say 25. Re1 Ne6. (See diagram)

Analysis Diagram
Analysis Diagram

His knight seems to be the best piece on the board. Houdini thinks white still has a small edge after 26.Bb2, but I wasn’t convinced. Instead I played

22. f4

This move was an attempt to close the game down and force a draw. I had found it hard to find good moves early in the game, and was now down to about twenty minutes.

22… Ng7 23. h4 Kh7 24. Kf2

Here I made a draw offer, which was declined. In hindsight black should have accepted the draw here, or played h5 on one of the next two moves to seal up the king side. Instead by playing for a win he gives me an opportunity that I do not take.

24…Rh8 25. Rh1 Nh5?! 26. Bf3 Rcf8

White to play and, to his great surprise, win
White to play and, to his great surprise, win

I had assumed this position was dead drawn. After the game to my great surprise I discovered that 27. g4 is a decisive breakthrough. For example  27…fxg4 28.Bxg4 Ng7 29. h5 Rhg8 30. hxg6+ Qxg6 31. Qxg6+ Kxg6 32. Rh2, and the h pawn is incredibly weak and will drop, and black also has a very bad bishop.

Instead the game continued.

27. Rag1 Rhg8 28. Qd2 Ng7 29. Qd3 Kh8 30. Qe2 Ra8 31. Ra1 a5 32. Qb2 axb4 33. axb4 h5 34. Rxa8 Rxa8 35. Ra1 Qe8 36. Ra3

The final position - a dead draw
The final position – a dead draw

The computer thinks that white still has a small advantage in the final position, but I am pretty sure after 33…h5 it is totally drawn.

This pusillanimous performance leaves me on 3/4. I am out of the running for the first prize, but I may get something if I play a decent game tomorrow.

I spent much of the afternoon watching the live commentary of the masters given by Grandmaster Simon Williams and International Master Elisabeth Paehtz. A particular highlight was a brilliant attack in the game Harikrishna vs Chrilia which can be seen https://arena.chessdom.com/games/show/stream/72711?embed=580&ba=1″style=”width:567px;height:720px;border:none;margin-top:30px;

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