Prague summer open rounds 8 and 9

Hamish Olson and Neil Irving finished their tournaments in Prague with 1.5/2 in the final rounds.

In the A open Hamish drew his round 8 game with white against Egor Chekletsov of Russia (rated 1912 and aged 12) and in the final round miniatured Czech player Tomas Kucera (1995) with the black pieces to finish on 5/9. His full results can be seen here.

In the last round game Hamish (as black) reached the following position after white’s 11th move.

Kucera vs Olson Prague 2015. Black to play and win
Kucera vs Olson Prague 2015.
Black to play and win

The solution is at the end of this article.

In the B open Neil defeated the Czech player Jiri Svelty (1919) in round 8. His notes are as follows:

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 d6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. e4 O-O 6. Be2 Nbd7 7. Be3 e5 8. d5 Nc5?!

I think this is an inaccurate move because it allows white to re-deploy the kings knight onto d2 while the bishop stays active on e3. The database confirms that white scores about 70% from this position. Having said that a few grandmasters (Fier, Markos) have played the black side of this position. 8… Ng4 is better.

9. Nd2 a5 10.a3

Black to play
Black to play

10…a4

I like this idea of sacrificing a pawn in exchange for the dark squared bishop. It may not be correct but it is a justification for black’s move 8. 10… Ne8 aiming for f5 is the most popular move in this position but then white can get on with his queenside play with 11. b4 axb4 12. axb4 Rxa1 13.Qxa1 Na6 14. Qa3 f5 15. O-O (After 15. f3?! which I have played once black has the tactic 15…Bh6 16.Bxh6 Qh4+ equalising) 15… f4 16. Ba7 b6 (16… Bd7 17. f3 and white’s attack on the queenside is very strong) 17. Ra1 followed by c5 is good for white.

11. Bxc5 dxc5 12. Nxa4 Qe7 13. O-O Ne8 14. Qc2 f5 15. Nc3 f4?!

I didn’t think this move was positionally very good because it closes off the h6 – c1 diagonal for the black bishop I prefer  either 15… Nd6 or 15… Bh6. Now I decided it was time to grab the initiative

White to play and seize the initiative
White to play and seize the initiative

16. b4!? g5!?

Black decides he isn’t interested in taking any of these pawn things and goes for the attack on the Kingside. If black had taken the pawn then I was planning after 16… cxb4 17. axb4 Rxa1 18. Rxa1 Qxb4 to play 19.Rb1, but Houdini finds the stronger 19.Nb3 Qe7 (19… Nf6 20. c5 and the Queen is getting trapped) 20.c5

17. h3

I played this on the basis that it slows black’s attack down by a move because he has to play Nf6 and h5 before he can get g4 in.

17… Nf6 18.bxc5 g4 19. d6!?

I was determined to try and seize the initiative somehow, so I again try returning a pawn.

19… cxd6 20. cxd6 Qxd6 21. hxg4

Black to play
Black to play

21…Bxg4?

I was very surprised he allowed me to swap off the light squared bishops. The light squared bishop is often a key attacking piece in this type of pawn structure, plus this reduces the number of attacking pieces black has by one. 21… Nxg4 is much more dangerous.

22. Bxg4 Nxg4 23. Qd1

After the game Hamish suggested 23.Nf3 because it doesn’t allow black any ideas based on a pawn sacrifice on f3

23… h5

So here I hadn’t considered 23… f3 24. Nxf3 Qh6 25. Re1 Rxf3 26. Qxf3 Qh2+ 27. Kf1. It doesn’t work but I should have considered the possibility.

24. Nf3 Qc6 25. Nd5 Qc5  26. Qb3 Rf7 27. Ng5

White is winning
White is winning

The white knights are too powerful in this position so black is lost. I thought now he might try 27… Rd7 28. Nb6 Rd2 29. Nxa8 Rxf2 which Houdini tells me is winning for white, but looked scary at the time. If he had played 27…Rd7 I would just have followed up with 28. Qb6

27… Re7 28. Nxe7+ Qxe7

I am now an exchange and a pawn up but fairly short of time. The rest of the game isn’t particularly accurately played, but there were no major blunders either.

29.Nf3 Bf8 30. Rab1 Rb8 31. Qb6 Kg7 32. Qa7 Qc7 33. Qb6 Qe7 34. Rbd1 Ra8 35. Qb5 Kg6 36. Rd7 Qc5 37. Qxb7 Rxa3 38. Qd5 Nxf2 39. Qf7+

And black resigned because of mate next move, although Qe6 checkmate would have been an improvement for white on move 39!

In the last round Neil agreed a quick draw with black against Czech junior Daniil Bystrickiy (1877) to achieve a final score of 6/9. His results can be seen here.

Both Hamish and Neil enjoyed playing in Prague and would recommend Czech tour events for other players.

The conclusion of the game Kucera – Olson was 11…Nxd4 12. Bxd4 a6 13. Bd3 Nc6 14. Be3 d4 15. Bg5 Bxf3 16. Bxd8 (if 16.Bxh7+ then 16…Kh8 still wins a piece) Bxe2 17. Bxe2 Raxd8 resigns.

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