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Dortmund

I hadn’t played for a while before the event, but had done some prep at home and played a few successful training games. The tournament wasn’t a disaster but was rather frustrating, as it seemed a long list of missed opportunities, but some of them weren’t easy to spot, at least for me! I have reviewed some key misses below.

In my first game with Naiditsch I made a very casual move in the opening and after fortunately surviving this later missed good chances.
[pgn height=350]
[Event "42nd GM 2014"]
[Site "Dortmund GER"]
[Date "2014.07.12"]
[Round "1.2"]
[White "Naiditsch, Arkadij"]
[Black "Adams, Michael"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "2705"]
[BlackElo "2743"]
[Annotator "Blog"]
[PlyCount "98"]
[EventDate "2014.07.12"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2010.03.20"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5
8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. h3 Bd7 10. Rd1 Be7 11. c4 Kc8 12. Nc3 b6 13. Bg5 Re8 ({An
awful calculation error,} 13… h6 {or}) (13… Bxg5 14. Nxg5 h6 {were fine.})
14. g4 Bxg5 ({My intended} 14… h6 {is impossible due to} 15. e6 fxe6 (15…
Bxe6 16. gxf5) 16. Bxe7 Nxe7 17. Ne5 Rd8 18. Ne2) 15. Nxg5 Nh4 16. f4 h6 17.
Nge4 h5 18. gxh5 Rh8 19. Ng3 Bxh3 20. Kf2 Nf5 21. Nce4 ({White keeps an edge
with} 21. Rh1 Nxg3 22. Kxg3 Bf5) 21… Nh6 {A key retreat now my position is
preferable as I have covered my weaknesses and have a much clearer plan than
my opponent.} 22. Rh1 Be6 23. b3 Kb7 24. Rad1 Rae8 25. Rd2 a5 26. a4 c5 27. Ng5
Bc8 28. Nf3 Kb8 {The bishop now starts to become a big factor.} 29. Nh2 Ref8
30. Rg1 f6 31. exf6 Rxf6 32. Ne2 Nf5 33. Ng4 Rff8 34. Ne3 Rxh5 ({Instead} 34…
Nxe3 35. Kxe3 Re8+ 36. Kf2 Rxh5 37. Rxg7 Bb7 {is tricky to meet}) 35. Nxf5 Bxf5
36. Rxg7 Rh2+ 37. Rg2 Rh4 38. Kg1 Bg4 (38… Be4 {keeps the pressure on}) 39.
Rh2 Rxh2 40. Kxh2 Bxe2 41. Rxe2 Rxf4 42. Kg3 Rf1 43. Rf2 {As the king and pawn
ending is a draw there are no hopes here.} Re1 44. Rf3 Kc8 45. Kf2 Re6 46. Re3
Kd7 47. Kf3 Rd6 48. Ke2 Re6 49. Kd3 Rd6+ 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]

I managed to surprise Kramnik in the opening the next day with the Tromp, but things went downhill from there. I salvaged a lucky half point later on, the long game meant that we both missed the start of the Football World Cup Final. It’s easy to see that Germany has a very successful football team the celebrations would have been much wilder in England!
[pgn height=350]
[Event "42nd GM 2014"]
[Site "Dortmund GER"]
[Date "2014.07.13"]
[Round "2.3"]
[White "Adams, Michael"]
[Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A45"]
[WhiteElo "2743"]
[BlackElo "2777"]
[Annotator "Blog"]
[PlyCount "136"]
[EventDate "2014.07.12"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2010.03.20"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 d5 3. e3 c5 4. Bxf6 gxf6 5. dxc5 e6 6. Nf3 Bxc5 7. Be2 Nc6 8.
O-O e5 9. c4 d4 10. exd4 Nxd4 11. Nxd4 Bxd4 12. Qc2 f5 13. Nd2 Qe7 {I think I
had a good position here and a pleasant lead on the clock but didn’t make the
most of it.} 14. Rad1 O-O 15. b4 Qxb4 16. Nf3 Rd8 17. Nxe5 ({It was more
practical to take the powerful bishop whilst retaining great compensation for
the pawn.} 17. Nxd4) 17… Be6 18. Qc1 f6 19. Nf3 Bb6 20. Qh6 Qf8 21. Qh4 Rxd1
22. Bxd1 Kh8 ({I was expecting} 22… Rd8 {but Black’s king is harder to get
to in the corner than I thought.}) 23. Re1 Bg8 24. Bc2 Rc8 25. Bd3 Rc6 26. h3 (
{This seemed sensible, but} 26. Qf4 {was better}) 26… Qd6 27. Bxf5 $2 ({A
horrible decision} 27. Qh6 Qxd3 28. Re7 Qd1+ 29. Ne1 Bxf2+ 30. Kxf2 Qd4+ 31.
Kf3 Qc3+ 32. Kf2 {leads to perpetual}) (27. Bf1 {was also playable.}) 27…
Rxc4 28. g4 Kg7 {I simply failed to see this move was possible until too late.}
29. Kg2 h6 30. Qg3 Qxg3+ 31. Kxg3 Rc3 32. Be6 (32. Re2 {was somewhat better.})
32… Rc2 33. Re4 Bxf2+ 34. Kf4 Bxe6 35. Rxe6 Rxa2 36. Rd6 (36. Re7+ Kg6 37.
Rxb7 Ra4+ {wins so only technical difficulties remain.}) 36… Kf7 37. Kf5 Ra5+
38. Ke4 Rb5 39. Rd2 Rb4+ 40. Kf5 Rb5+ 41. Ke4 Bg3 42. Nd4 Rb4 43. Kd5 a5 44.
Nf5 Bf4 45. Ra2 Rb5+ 46. Kc4 Rb4+ 47. Kd5 a4 $2 ({After this slip I manage to
escape} 47… b6 48. Re2 Be5 49. Nxh6+ Kg6 50. Nf5 a4 {was correct.}) 48. Kc5
Re4 49. Kb5 Ke6 ({The other options also fall short:} 49… Kg6 50. Nh4+ Kg5
51. Nf3+ Kg6 52. Nh4+) (49… h5 50. Rxa4 Rxa4 51. Kxa4 hxg4 52. hxg4 Bc7 53.
Kb5 Kg6 (53… Ke6 54. Ng7+ Ke5 55. Ne8 Bd8 56. Ng7) 54. Ne7+ Kg5 55. Nd5 Bd8
56. Kc5 Kxg4 57. Nxf6+ Bxf6 58. Kb6) 50. Rxa4 Rxa4 51. Kxa4 Kd5 ({I was more
concerned about} 51… Ke5 52. Kb5 Bg5 53. Kb6 h5 54. Kxb7 h4 55. Kc6 Kf4 56.
Kd5 Kf3 57. Nd4+ Kg3 58. Ke4 Kxh3 59. Kf3 Bc1 {but it seems White holds here
too.}) 52. Kb5 Ke4 53. Kb6 Kf3 54. Kxb7 Kg2 55. Kc6 Kxh3 56. Kd5 Kxg4 57. Ke6
h5 58. Kxf6 {Black’s pawn can’t move forward despite the precarious looking
position of my knight.} Bc1 59. Ke5 Bd2 60. Ke4 Bg5 61. Ke5 ({The flashy} 61.
Kd3 Kxf5 62. Ke2 Kg4 63. Kf1 Kg3 64. Kg1 {is also good enough.}) 61… Kf3 62.
Nd4+ Kg2 63. Nf5 Kf3 64. Nd4+ Kg4 65. Nf5 Bd2 66. Ke4 Bf4 67. Nh4 Kxh4 68. Kxf4
Kh3 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
Round 3 was a fairly solid draw with Peter Leko, the next day was the worst as I missed many chances against Ponomariov.
[pgn height=350]
[Event "42nd GM 2014"]
[Site "Dortmund GER"]
[Date "2014.07.16"]
[Round "4.2"]
[White "Adams, Michael"]
[Black "Ponomariov, Ruslan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C65"]
[WhiteElo "2743"]
[BlackElo "2723"]
[Annotator "Blog"]
[PlyCount "108"]
[EventDate "2014.07.12"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2010.03.20"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. O-O d6 6. Be3 Bb6 7. Bxc6+ bxc6 8.
h3 O-O 9. Re1 h6 10. Nbd2 Be6 11. Nf1 Rb8 12. b3 c5 13. Ng3 Nd7 14. c3 d5 15.
d4 cxd4 16. cxd4 Ba5 17. Bd2 Bxd2 18. Qxd2 dxe4 19. Rxe4 exd4 20. Rxd4 c5 21.
Rd3 Qc7 22. Nh5 Bf5 23. Qc3 f6 24. Re3 Bg6 25. Ng3 Nb6 26. Rae1 Nd5 27. Qc4 Bf7
28. Re4 Rb4 29. Qc1 Bg6 30. Rc4 Rc8 31. Nh4 Bd3 32. Ngf5 g6 33. Nxh6+ ({The
most elegant win was} 33. Qd1 Bxc4 34. Nxg6 {although this is not easy to see.}
) 33… Kg7 34. Ng4 g5 35. Qd2 ({The most deadly} 35. Nxf6 Kxf6 36. Nf3 {was
also not obvious.}) 35… Nf4 36. Rxb4 ({Another missed opportunity} 36. Qc3
Qd8 37. Rxc5 Rxc5 38. Qxc5 {wins easily}) 36… cxb4 37. Qxb4 ({The simple} 37.
Nf3 {was the last way to keep the advantage.Now the game heads towards a draw.}
) 37… Ne2+ 38. Rxe2 Bxe2 39. Nf5+ Kh8 40. Ng3 a5 41. Qe4 Bxg4 42. Qxg4 Rd8
43. Qh5+ Qh7 44. Qf3 Qe7 45. Nf5 Qe1+ 46. Kh2 Kg8 47. Ne3 Qc3 48. g3 Rd2 49.
Kg1 Rxa2 50. Qd5+ Kf8 51. Qd8+ Kf7 52. Qd7+ Kf8 53. Qd8+ Kf7 54. Qd7+ Kf8
1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
The next day was deja vu again as once more I squandered an edge.
[pgn height=350]
[Event "Dortmund 42nd"]
[Site "Dortmund"]
[Date "2014.07.18"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Meier, Georg"]
[Black "Adams, Michael"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D11"]
[WhiteElo "2632"]
[BlackElo "2743"]
[Annotator "Blog"]
[PlyCount "120"]
[EventDate "2014.07.12"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "7"]
[EventCountry "GER"]
[EventCategory "19"]
[Source "Chessbase"]
[SourceDate "2014.07.26"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bg4 5. Qb3 Qb6 6. Nc3 e6 7. Nh4 Be7 8. h3
Bh5 9. g4 Bg6 10. Nxg6 hxg6 11. Bg2 g5 12. Bd2 Nbd7 13. Qa4 Qc7 14. cxd5 Nxd5
15. O-O O-O 16. Rac1 Rad8 17. Qc2 Qb8 18. Rfd1 Rfe8 19. Ne2 Nf8 20. a3 Ng6 21.
b4 Nh4 22. Qb3 e5 23. Bh1 a6 24. a4 exd4 25. Nxd4 Nf4 26. exf4 Rxd4 27. fxg5
Red8 28. Be3 Rxb4 29. Qc2 Qe5 30. Rxd8+ Bxd8 31. Rb1 a5 32. Bd2 Bc7 {I
correctly thought this was very strong but had underestimated my opponent’s
calm reply. It is not easy to track the king down.} 33. Kf1 Qh2 34. Ke2 Qe5+ ({
The correct continuation was} 34… Rd4 35. Be3 (35. Rxb7 Qxh1 36. Rxc7 Qf3+)
35… Rd6 36. Be4 Qxh3 {with good winning chances. Now my opponent defends
very well.}) 35. Kf1 Qh2 36. Ke2 Rxb1 37. Qxb1 Qxh3 38. Qe4 Ng6 39. Qe8+ Nf8
40. Bf3 Qh2 41. Be3 {A good decision the bishop are very strong after the
queens are exchanged.} Qe5 42. Qxe5 Bxe5 43. Be4 Ne6 (43… Ng6 $5 {was a
trickier option}) (43… g6 44. f4 Bd6 45. f5 {also isn’t inspiring.}) 44. g6
Bf4 45. Bb6 Bc7 46. Be3 Kf8 47. Kd3 Ke7 48. Kc4 fxg6 49. Bxg6 Kf6 50. Bf5 g6
51. Bxe6 Kxe6 52. f4 {There is no way to exploit the extra pawn.} Bb8 53. Bd2
Bc7 54. Be3 Bd6 55. Bd2 Kf7 56. Be3 Bb4 57. Bc1 Ke6 58. Be3 Kf7 59. Bc1 Ke6 60.
Be3 Kf7 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
After so many missed opportunities it was no surprise I was punished with a defeat against Caruana. He played very well as he did throughout the event but I wasn’t happy with my play or clock handling.

At least a win in the last round finished on a high note.

Hitching a Ride

I made my Bundesliga debut this season in the March weekend. My teammates had been doing excellent work in my absence and we have a perfect record heading into the final weekend. On Sunday morning I played Luke McShane again, we seem to have played quite often recently despite his work commitments. It was another long and difficult game although this time I managed to convert my advantage albeit in rather unconvincing style. The lengthy encounter meant that although I avoided timetrouble at the board it was looming at the airport, but Luke sportingly arranged for me to hitch a lift with his team, some of the variations below were discussed on the journey.
[pgn height=350 initialply=110]
[Event "Bundesliga 2013-14"]
[Site "Hockenheim GER"]
[Date "2014.03.16"]
[Round "12.1"]
[White "Adams, Michael"]
[Black "McShane, Luke J"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "2753"]
[BlackElo "2697"]
[Annotator "Blog"]
[PlyCount "147"]
[EventDate "2013.10.12"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2010.03.20"]
[WhiteTeam "OSG Baden-Baden"]
[BlackTeam "Werder Bremen"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5
8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 Bd7 10. Ne2 Ke8 11. Nf4 Rd8 12. Re1 Bc8 13. h3 Ne7 14. Nh5
Ng6 15. Bg5 Rd5 16. c4 Rd7 {The opening has not gone well for Black, but the
Berlin is never easy to breach.} 17. e6 fxe6 18. Rxe6+ Kf7 19. Re4 ({Luke
pointed out after the game that} 19. Rxg6 hxg6 (19… Kxg6 20. Nf4+ Kf7 21.
Ne5+) 20. Ne5+ Kg8 21. Nxd7 Rxh5 22. Nxf8 Rxg5 23. f4 $1 {is strong}) 19… h6
20. Bf4 ({The computer points out the clever} 20. Nf4 $1 {keeps an edge as the
knight can’t be captured} hxg5 21. Nxg6 Kxg6 22. Re6+ Kf7 23. Nxg5+ Kg8 24. Re8
) 20… Bd6 21. Rae1 Rhd8 22. g4 Bf8 ({After the better} 22… c5 {the game is
roughly balanced.}) 23. Bg3 c5 24. Kh2 Kg8 ({I thought the paradoxical} 24…
Bd6 {was best.}) 25. Re8 c6 ({I was thinking about} 25… b6 26. Rxd8 Rxd8 27.
Bxc7 {then} Rd7 28. Nf4 $1 {keeps the advantage.}) 26. Nh4 ({This proved very
effective but actually} 26. Nf4 {was best.}) 26… Rxe8 $2 ({We both thought
Black was busted here but along with other highly rated spectators missed the
simple} 26… Nxh4 27. Bxh4 g5 28. Nf6+ Kf7 29. Nxd7 Rxe8 30. Rxe8 Kxe8 31.
Nxf8 Kxf8 32. Bg3 Ke7 {and a draw is on the cards.}) (26… Ne7 $2 27. R1xe7 {
wins a piece}) 27. Rxe8 Ne7 28. Nf5 Kf7 29. Nd6+ Rxd6 30. Rxf8+ Kxf8 31. Bxd6
g5 {The opposite bishops give some practical chances.} 32. f4 Kf7 33. fxg5 hxg5
34. Bxc5 (34. Ng3 Ng8 35. Ne4 Kg6 36. Bb8 {was better I had overlooked
something.}) 34… b6 35. Be3 ({Maybe} 35. Bxe7 Kxe7 36. Ng3 {was simplest.})
35… Kg6 36. Ng3 Ng8 $1 37. Kg1 ({My intended} 37. Ne4 {is met by} Nf6 38.
Nxg5 Bxg4) 37… Nf6 38. Bd4 Nd7 39. Nf5 Ba6 40. Nd6 ({I thought imprisoning
the bishop was very effective but the materialistic} 40. Ne7+ Kf7 41. Nxc6 Bxc4
42. b3 Bd5 43. Nxa7 {was stronger.}) 40… c5 41. Bc3 Nf8 42. Kf2 Ne6 43. Be5
Nd8 44. b3 Nc6 45. Bc3 Nd8 46. a4 ({If} 46. a3 {Black can try} Nf7) ({In
retrospect I think} 46. Ke3 $1 Nf7 (46… Nc6 47. a3) 47. Nb5 Bb7 48. Nxa7 {
was most convincing.}) 46… Ne6 47. Be5 Nd8 48. Ke3 Nc6 49. Bc3 Nd8 50. Be1
Kf6 ({After} 50… Nc6 51. Ke4 Kf6 52. Bd2 {Black is struggling for a move.})
51. h4 Nf7 52. hxg5+ Kg6 (52… Nxg5 53. Bh4 Ke5 54. Nb5 Ne6 55. Bg3+ Kf6 56.
Bb8 {wins easily.}) 53. Nxf7 ({With my kingside pawns now vulnerable this
exchange looks logical but with some fancy footwork the computer shows} 53. Nb5
{is also good.} Kxg5 (53… Bc8 54. Nxa7 Bxg4 55. Bg3 Bd1 56. Nc8) 54. Bg3 Nd8
55. Nxa7 Ne6 56. Nb5 Kxg4 57. Nc7) 53… Kxf7 54. Bc3 ({If} 54. Bg3 Bc8 55. Bb8
Bxg4 56. Bxa7 Bd1 57. Bxb6 Bxb3 58. a5 Bxc4 59. Bxc5 Ke6 {the wrong coloured
rook’s pawn means there is no win.}) 54… Bc8 55. Kf4 Bd7 56. Bf6 $2 ({Luke
pointed out the beautiful win} 56. Be5 $1 a6 57. Bc7 b5 58. cxb5 axb5 59. a5
Be6 60. a6 Bxb3 61. Ke5 $1 {I didn’t see this idea gaining crucial tempi} Bd1
62. Ke4 $1 Bc2+ 63. Kd5 Bd1 64. a7 Bf3+ 65. Kxc5) 56… Ke6 $1 ({I worked out
that} 56… a6 57. Bd8 b5 58. axb5 axb5 59. Ke5 bxc4 60. bxc4 Bxg4 61. Kd5 {
was winning but missed this sneaky plan giving the bishop a new route to
hoover my queenside pawns.}) 57. Be5 Be8 58. Bb8 a5 $2 ({Luke could have
salvaged a draw with} 58… a6 $1 59. Ba7 Bg6 60. Bxb6 (60. a5 bxa5 61. Bxc5
Bc2 62. Ba3 Bxb3 63. c5 Ba4) 60… Bc2 61. Ke3 (61. Bxc5 Bxb3 62. Bd4 Bxc4 63.
g6 Bd3 64. Kg5 Bc2 65. a5 Bb1 66. Kh6 Bc2 {and there is no way to progress})
61… Bxb3 62. Kd3 Bxa4 63. Bxc5 Bd1) 59. Bc7 Bg6 60. Bxb6 Bc2 61. b4 ({A
pretty option but it seems} 61. g6 Bxb3 (61… Kf6 62. Bxc5 Bxb3 63. Bd4+ Kxg6
64. c5 Bxa4 65. Bc3) 62. Kg5 Bxa4 63. Kh6 Bc2 64. Bxc5 {is also good enough.})
61… cxb4 62. Bxa5 b3 63. Bc3 Bd3 64. a5 Kd6 65. Bd4 Bxc4 66. g6 Kc6 67. Ke5
Kb5 68. Bc3 b2 69. Bxb2 Kxa5 70. Kd6 Kb4 71. g7 Kb3 72. Bf6 Kc2 73. Ke7 Kd3 74.
Kf8 1-0

[/pgn]

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Cave Dining

Gibraltar is always noteable for the special events put together during the tournament, a spectacular highlight this year was the visit to St. Michael’s Cave after the first round, I had visited the caves before but sightseeing on a wet day with the water dripping though the cracks couldn’t compare to the dinner hosted by Brian Callaghan with music, lighting and drinks. A very memorable occasion.
Although as usual I enjoyed my stay, at the board my play could have been better: despite remaining undefeated, I could easily have lost 4 of my games. After a convincing win in round two against Mohamad Al Sayed (this worked out better for my opponent who gradually overtook me to end on 7.5), I got involved in a very random but extremely complicated game with Alexandr Fier, to my great surprise this error strewn encounter won the best game prize. I suppose this is very much a matter of opinion as my games that I considered worthy of such prizes were always roundly rejected by the judges. Assessing the wreckage with the computer later I realised that in spite of my relative optimism during the game I was lucky to acquire half a point. The next day was worse as I blundered away a very pleasant edge versus Aleksandr Lenderman and the game completely turned and I was again very fortunate not to lose. The next couple of games went better and I reached a promising 5/6.
For no clear reason, I was then dealt a double White and a less than ideal upfloat to Vassily Ivanchuk and a solid draw killed my momentum. I was again fortunate to make two draws in my next games although I did initially get a promising game against Baskaran Adhiban in the penultimate round. In my last game I was paired with the Chinese super kid Wei Yi. Somewhat bizarrely he chose a forced drawing line straight from the opening in impressively cynical style for a 14 year old.
Most things about the Gibraltar event are excellent but a continual flaw has been the playoff system in the event that three players tie for first. It is clear in this eventuality, the fairest option is an all play all between the three players, if necessary with a quicker time limit. John Saunders in his report suggested that this injustice was less important as the Swiss system is intrinsically imperfect. However the pairing system is designed to be as fair as is possible and so should the playoff system which was not the case this time.

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Castling Calamity at Classic

The London Classic began with some exhibition games: the Pro Am event in the morning was won by Matthew Sadler and Daniel Lindner from Barclays. As it coincided with the very welcome BarcIaycard sponsorship deal with Chess in Schools and Communities this seemed appropriate. This tremendous achievement was a fitting reward for the work Malcolm Pein and others have done with the charity.
I was originally going to be playing with Edgar Davids in the celebrity event but he arrived a little too late to play. It was nice to meet him however, and he is clearly a keen player who attended the tournament on a few other occasions. Instead I played with 2 school children Jamie and Lily against Lethal Bizzle and Hikaru. They came out on top in an eventful game, and Lethal celebrated with a victory rap!
The more serious fare began the next day, the tournament switched format to a group/KO rapidplay system this year, this worked well but I missed the classical tournament. Perhaps it is too much to hope both could take place in the same year.
I was drawn in a tough group , and started with 2 Black games, but this worked out well as I played well to win the all important first game with Andrei Istratescu, and managed to hold Vishy Anand in the second despite being under pressure on the board and the clock. The next day my encounter Luke McShane was clearly going to be key to qualification, the game was a bit of a rollercoaster.
[pgn height=350 initialply=62]
[Event "London Classic Gp-A 5th"]
[Site "London"]
[Date "2013.12.12"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Adams, Michael"]
[Black "McShane, Luke J"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C47"]
[WhiteElo "2754"]
[BlackElo "2684"]
[Annotator "Blog"]
[PlyCount "163"]
[EventDate "2013.12.11"]
[EventType "tourn (rapid)"]
[EventRounds "6"]
[EventCountry "ENG"]
[EventCategory "19"]
[Source "Chessbase"]
[SourceDate "2013.12.19"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4 Bb4 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 d6 8.
Bg5 Qe7 9. O-O h6 10. Bh4 g5 11. Bg3 Ng4 12. h3 ({I saw the idea of} 12. Bb5 {
but thought} Bd7 {was ok. However following} (12… cxb5 13. Nd5 Qd8 14. Nxb4)
13. Qd4 Bxc3 14. Qxc3 Qf6 15. Bxc6 Qxc3 16. Bxd7+ Kxd7 17. bxc3 Rab8 {the
extra pawn is worth something.}) 12… Ne5 13. Be2 Ba5 14. Nd5 {Luke had
missed this but it’s not too serious.} Qd8 15. Bxe5 dxe5 16. Ne3 Bb6 17. Qe1 h5
18. Nc4 g4 19. Nxb6 axb6 20. Qc3 Qf6 21. h4 O-O 22. g3 Ra4 23. b4 c5 24. a3 Qe7
25. Rfb1 Bb7 26. Bd3 cxb4 27. axb4 Rfa8 28. Rxa4 Rxa4 29. Bb5 Ra8 30. Bc6 Bxc6
31. Qxc6 Rd8 32. Ra1 ({The handy queen transfer} 32. Qh6 $1 {passed us both by.
Now Black takes control.}) 32… Kg7 33. c3 Rd6 34. Qb5 Rd2 35. Qc4 Qf6 36. Rf1
c6 37. Qa6 Qf3 ({After} 37… b5 $1 {my survival chances don’t look great.})
38. Qxb6 Qxe4 39. b5 cxb5 40. Qxb5 Rc2 41. Qc5 Re2 42. Qe7 Qf5 43. Qc5 Qf6 44.
Qc4 Rc2 45. Qd3 Qg6 46. Qe3 Qf5 47. Rc1 Rxc1+ ({The game has turned again and
Black has to be careful} 47… f6 {covering Black’s pawns looks wise.}) 48.
Qxc1 Kf6 49. c4 Ke7 50. c5 Kd7 ({The best defence} 50… f6 51. c6 Kd6 52. c7
Qc8 {would be very hard to find}) 51. Qd2+ Kc8 52. Qd5 Qf6 53. c6 Qe7 54. Qb5
Kc7 ({This should have lost immediately} 54… f5) 55. Qb7+ Kd6 56. Qb4+ Ke6
57. Qb7 ({Now the pawn is not attacked} 57. Qb8 $1 {promotes immediately.})
57… Kd6 58. Qb4+ Ke6 59. Qb6 Qd6 60. Kh2 Kf6 61. Qb5 Qd4 62. Kg1 Qd1+ 63. Kh2
Qd4 64. Qe2 Qc5 65. Qd2 Kg7 66. Qg5+ Kf8 67. Qd8+ Kg7 68. Qg5+ Kf8 69. Qf6 Qc3
70. Qd8+ ({After my first intention} 70. Qd6+ Kg7 71. c7 {White wins.}) 70…
Kg7 71. c7 Qc5 72. Kg1 Qc1+ 73. Kg2 Qc6+ 74. Kf1 Qc4+ 75. Kg1 ({After} 75. Ke1
Qc3+ 76. Ke2 Qf3+ {holds}) 75… Qc1+ 76. Kh2 Qc5 77. Qg5+ Kf8 78. c8=Q+ Qxc8
79. Qxe5 Qc2 80. Kg1 Qc1+ 81. Kh2 Qc2 82. Kg1 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
In the evening session I managed to sneak a key win from a drawish position:
[pgn height=350 initialply=53]
[Event "London Classic Gp-A 5th"]
[Site "London"]
[Date "2013.12.12"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Adams, Michael"]
[Black "Istratescu, Andrei"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C07"]
[WhiteElo "2754"]
[BlackElo "2670"]
[Annotator "Blog"]
[PlyCount "89"]
[EventDate "2013.12.11"]
[EventType "tourn (rapid)"]
[EventRounds "6"]
[EventCountry "ENG"]
[EventCategory "19"]
[Source "Chessbase"]
[SourceDate "2013.12.19"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. dxc5 Bxc5 6. Ngf3 Nf6 7. Bc4 Qd6 8.
Qe2 Qc7 9. Ne4 Be7 10. Nxf6+ Bxf6 11. O-O O-O 12. Bd3 Nd7 13. c3 Nc5 14. Bg5
Bxg5 15. Nxg5 h6 16. Bh7+ Kh8 17. Bc2 b6 18. Rfd1 Bb7 19. Nf3 Bxf3 20. Qxf3
Rad8 21. h4 Nd7 22. g3 Nf6 23. Kg2 h5 ({This gives me a little hope} 23… Kg8
{was simplest}) 24. a3 Ng4 (24… Qe7 {was safer.}) 25. Rxd8 Rxd8 26. Rd1 Rxd1
27. Bxd1 f5 ({There are some problems now as the natural} 27… g6 {enables
White to win a pawn.} 28. Qa8+ Kg7 29. Bxg4 hxg4 30. Qe4) (27… Nf6 {was
correct}) 28. Qa8+ Kh7 29. Qe8 {Winning a pawn which I managed to convert.} Qd6
30. Qxh5+ Nh6 31. Qe2 Qd5+ 32. f3 Nf7 33. Qc2 Ne5 34. Be2 Ng4 35. Qc1 e5 36. c4
Qc6 37. Qg5 Nh6 38. Qe7 e4 39. b3 a5 40. fxe4 fxe4 41. Qe5 Kg8 42. g4 Nf7 43.
Qd5 Qe8 44. g5 Kh8 45. Bh5 1-0

[/pgn]
This meant I needed a draw to qualify in the return game with Luke, and after getting a nice opening and big clock lead, I managed to avoid too much danger. I got a bonus couple of points when Luke lost on time trying to avoid a repetition in a worse position. My last game was a dead rubber as both qualifiers were already decided, strangely only 1 group had live qualification issues at this stage. I tried the English for the first time in a while but couldn’t remember anything and got a rotten game. I somehow salvaged a draw with a piece less when my pawns started edging forward.
If Vishy had converted I would have played Peter Svidler, the tie meant a drawing of lots to decide the winner of our group and a pairing with Peter anyway! I guess it was inevitable.
I won the first game after Peter missed a good opportunity in the opening.
[pgn height=350 initialply=17]
[Event "London Classic KO 5th"]
[Site "London"]
[Date "2013.12.14"]
[Round "1.1"]
[White "Adams, Michael"]
[Black "Svidler, Peter"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B40"]
[WhiteElo "2754"]
[BlackElo "2758"]
[Annotator "Blog"]
[PlyCount "83"]
[EventDate "2013.12.14"]
[EventType "k.o. (rapid)"]
[EventRounds "3"]
[EventCountry "ENG"]
[Source "Chessbase"]
[SourceDate "2014.01.06"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. g3 Nc6 4. Bg2 Nf6 5. Qe2 d5 6. d3 g6 7. e5 Nd7 8. c4 Bg7
9. Bf4 Qa5+ (9… dxc4 $1 10. dxc4 Nd4 $1 11. Nxd4 cxd4 {was much better as
Black threatens g5 and Qa5+.}) 10. Nbd2 dxc4 11. dxc4 h6 12. h4 Nd4 13. Nxd4
cxd4 14. O-O {Now White is in charge} Bxe5 15. Nb3 Qc7 16. Bxe5 Qxe5 17. Qd2
Qd6 18. Rfe1 Kf8 19. Nxd4 ({Peter pointed out} 19. Rac1 $1 {was even stronger.}
) 19… e5 20. Nb3 Qxd2 21. Nxd2 a5 22. Rad1 Ra6 23. Bh3 Kg7 24. Nf3 Nc5 25.
Bxc8 Rxc8 26. Rxe5 Rb6 27. Rdd5 Ne6 28. b3 a4 29. Rb5 Rcc6 30. Kg2 axb3 31.
axb3 Nc7 32. Rxb6 Rxb6 33. Nd4 Kf6 34. Re3 Rd6 35. Ne2 b5 36. Nc3 Rd4 37. Nxb5
Nxb5 38. cxb5 Rb4 39. Kf3 Kf5 40. Ke2 Kg4 41. Kd3 g5 42. Re4+ 1-0

[/pgn]
In the second I played inaccurately early on and my weak pawns gradually dropped off. That meant we were back for a tiebreak, in the first game where I had minimal pressure with White, Peter dropped a pawn and the game after his first major think. In the second his opening went horribly wrong and I progressed.
In the first game with Boris Gelfand things were going well until I made a rather serious error, perhaps [pgn height=350 initialply=48]
[Event "London Classic KO 5th"]
[Site "London"]
[Date "2013.12.15"]
[Round "2.1"]
[White "Gelfand, Boris"]
[Black "Adams, Michael"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E06"]
[WhiteElo "2777"]
[BlackElo "2754"]
[Annotator "Blog"]
[PlyCount "107"]
[EventDate "2013.12.14"]
[EventType "k.o. (rapid)"]
[EventRounds "3"]
[EventCountry "ENG"]
[Source "Chessbase"]
[SourceDate "2013.12.19"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. g3 dxc4 6. Bg2 O-O 7. Ne5 c5 8. dxc5
Qxd1+ 9. Nxd1 Bxc5 10. Ne3 c3 11. bxc3 Nbd7 12. Nd3 Rb8 13. Nc4 b6 14. Nxc5
Nxc5 15. Ba3 Ba6 16. Ne5 Rfc8 17. Nc6 Rb7 18. Bxc5 bxc5 19. Ne5 Rb2 20. c4 h5
21. Bf3 Ng4 22. Nc6 Rc7 23. h3 Nf6 24. Ne5 Nd7 ({Black would be in fine shape
after any normal move like} 24… g6 {but the idea of castling queenside
simply didn’t occur to me.}) 25. O-O-O Nxe5 26. Kxb2 Nxf3 27. exf3 Bxc4 28.
Rd8+ Kh7 29. Rc1 Bd5 30. Rc3 {Now Black is under pressure and I wasn’t able to
hold.} Kg6 31. h4 Kf6 32. a3 Ke5 33. Rh8 g6 34. g4 hxg4 35. fxg4 Kd4 36. Re3 f5
37. gxf5 gxf5 38. h5 f4 39. Rh3 Rb7+ 40. Kc1 Be4 41. Rd8+ Ke5 42. h6 c4 43. Kd2
Rb2+ 44. Ke1 Rb1+ 45. Rd1 Rb7 46. Rh5+ Kf6 47. Rd4 Rb1+ 48. Kd2 Rb2+ 49. Kc3
Rc2+ 50. Kb4 Bh7 51. Rxf4+ Kg6 52. Rh3 e5 53. Rxc4 Rxf2 54. Rc7 1-0 [/pgn]

The return game was a bit of a debacle as things went wrong early on and I had no winning chances.

Hoogoveen

Until Bilbao I don’t think I had played a 4 player double round event in my life, but less than a week later I was starting a second.The traditional Univé tournament in Hoogoveen was very welcoming, a impressive mix of old and new, one nice touch was the traditional wooden old style demonstration boards in the tournament hall.

I was happy to claw back to a 50% score after an unimpressive start, some interesting variations remained in the shadows in my last round game.

[pgn height=350 initialply=32]
[Event "17th Unive Crown"]
[Site "Hoogeveen NED"]
[Date "2013.10.26"]
[Round "6.2"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Adams, Michael"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E34"]
[WhiteElo "2706"]
[BlackElo "2753"]
[Annotator "Mickey"]
[PlyCount "41"]
[EventDate "2013.10.20"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2010.03.20"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. cxd5 Qxd5 6. Nf3 Qf5 7. Qb3 Nc6 8.
Bd2 O-O 9. h3 a5 10. g4 Qg6 11. a3 a4 12. Qc4 Bxc3 13. Bxc3 Qe4 14. Rg1 Nd5 15.
Nd2 Qf4 16. Bg2 Rd8 17. Rc1 ({It’s not easy to calculate and asess} 17. e3 $5
Nxe3 18. fxe3 Qxe3+ 19. Kf1 Nxd4 20. Re1 Qf4+ (20… Nc2 21. Re2 {looks less
convincing for Black}) 21. Nf3 b5 22. Qxd4 Rxd4 23. Bxd4 Bb7 24. Be5 {I was
unsure about this position but with} Qc4+ 25. Kf2 f6 26. Rc1 Qa2 {the safest
place for the queen!} 27. Bc3 c5 {it is clear Black is ok.}) 17… Nb6 18. Qc5
Nd7 19. Qc4 (19. Qh5 Nf6 20. Qh4 {is interesting} Nxd4 (20… Ne7 $5 {is a
safer option that I was intending} 21. e3 Ng6 22. Qg3 Qxg3 23. fxg3 Nd5) 21. e3
Qh2 22. Kf1 {I thought Black was in trouble here but there are resources} Bd7 (
{the computer prefers} 22… Nb3 23. Nxb3 b6 {with great confusion}) 23. Bxd4
Bb5+ 24. Nc4 Rxd4 {my opponent showed this neat idea in the post mortem} 25.
exd4 Qf4 {this proved very convincing in the analysis room but the computer
suggests that the material could count for something after} 26. Bxb7 Rb8 (26…
Qxc1+ 27. Kg2 Qxc4 28. Bxa8) 27. Kg2 Rxb7 28. Qg3) 19… Nb6 20. Qc5 Nd7 21.
Qc4 1/2-1/2
[/pgn]

European Team

The European Team Championship competition was held in a pleasant hotel in the centre of Warsaw, the organisers made a good job of airport transfers, providing reliable internet access and decent meals and playing conditions. The chess side of things was less smoothly run, it was hard to ascertain the point of metal detectors at the entrance of the playing hall when the players were reminded to turn off their mobile phones before the game. As usual zero tolerance created problems as the lifts became log jammed shortly before the games.

Luke McShane had taken time off work for the event so we had a good team out but things didn’t quite work for us. Just as at the last European Team, we took on Greece in round 2, unfortunately our performance isn’t improving as we lost by an even heavier 3-1 this time. History continued to repeat as the next day we, for no obvious reason other than the inadequacies of the pairing system, we faced the strongest other team on the score group, Russia. I butchered an easy win against Grischuk but the 2-2 draw still wasn’t bad and after a couple of wins we were in good shape heading into the free day.

Disappointingly we finished with 4 consecutive tied matches, I’ve mentioned some key moments in my own games from rounds 6, 7 and 9. The last round coincided with my birthday: this wasn’t a positive alignment last time this occured whilst on England duty, against Caruana at the Dresden Olympiad, as I lost a fine position. At least this time I eventually salvaged half a point, although my play was no more convincing.

Many thanks to all those who generously supported the team.
[pgn height=350 initialply=63]
[Event "EU-chT (Men) 19th"]
[Site "Warsaw"]
[Date "2013.11.14"]
[Round "6.5"]
[White "Adams, Michael"]
[Black "Areshchenko, Alexander"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B52"]
[WhiteElo "2752"]
[BlackElo "2720"]
[Annotator "Mickey"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[EventDate "2013.11.08"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "POL"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2010.03.20"]
[WhiteTeam "England"]
[BlackTeam "Ukraine"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "ENG"]
[BlackTeamCountry "UKR"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. d4 cxd4 7. Nxd4 Bg7 8.
O-O O-O 9. Bxd7 Qxd7 10. b3 Nc6 11. Bb2 a6 12. Nxc6 Qxc6 13. Nd5 Nxd5 14. exd5
Qc5 15. Bxg7 Kxg7 16. Re1 e5 ({In the game Bacrot-Giri Black ran into
difficulties after the natural} 16… Rfe8 17. Qd2 b5 18. Rac1 Qa7 19. b4 Rac8
(19… bxc4 20. Rxc4) 20. c5) 17. dxe6 fxe6 18. Qd2 Rf6 19. Rad1 {Difficulties
remain as Black’s weak pawns and slightly exposed king are problematic.} Raf8
20. Re2 e5 21. a4 R8f7 ({A useful move in general but it was better to begin
active play immediately with} 21… Qb6 22. Qc2 Qb4 23. h3 ({Not} 23. Rd5 $2
Rxf2) 23… b5) 22. h3 Qb6 23. Qc2 Qb4 24. f3 b5 25. cxb5 axb5 26. Re4 Qa5 27.
Rd5 Qb6+ 28. Kh2 bxa4 29. bxa4 Rc7 30. Qd2 Rc6 31. a5 ({The simplest and most
practical continuation was} 31. f4 Rxf4 32. Rxf4 exf4 33. Qxf4 {when Black has
an uphill task to save the game.}) 31… Qc7 32. Re2 ({I missed the clever} 32.
Rb4 Rf7 ({after} 32… Rc2 33. Qd3 {there is no good follow up.}) (32… Rxf3
$2 33. a6 $1 {is the hidden tactical point} Rf7 34. Rb7 Qc8 35. Rxf7+ Kxf7 36.
a7 Ra6 (36… Qa8 37. Ra5) 37. Ra5) 33. Rb2 {keeps control}) (32. Rexe5 dxe5
33. Rd7+ Rf7 {is ineffectual as in the game.}) 32… Rf4 $1 {Now the chance
has slipped away.} 33. Rexe5 dxe5 34. Rd7+ Rf7 35. Rxc7 Rcxc7 36. Qd6 Rfe7 37.
a6 ({If} 37. h4 Rcd7 {and there is nowhere for the queen to hide.}) 37… Rcd7
38. Qc6 Rc7 39. Qb6 Ra7 40. Kg3 Ra8 41. Qd6 Rea7 42. Qxe5+ Kg8 43. Qd5+ Kg7 44.
Qe5+ Kg8 45. Qd5+ Kg7 46. Qe5+ 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
[pgn height=350 initialply=43]
[Event "EU-chT (Men) 19th"]
[Site "Warsaw"]
[Date "2013.11.15"]
[Round "7.4"]
[White "Jobava, Baadur"]
[Black "Adams, Michael"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C44"]
[WhiteElo "2695"]
[BlackElo "2752"]
[Annotator "Mickey"]
[PlyCount "104"]
[EventDate "2013.11.08"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "POL"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2010.03.20"]
[WhiteTeam "Georgia"]
[BlackTeam "England"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "GEO"]
[BlackTeamCountry "ENG"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Be2 Nf6 4. d3 d5 5. Nbd2 Bd6 6. O-O O-O 7. c3 a5 8. Re1
a4 9. Qc2 h6 10. Nf1 Re8 11. Ng3 Be6 12. Bd2 Bc5 13. b4 axb3 14. axb3 Rxa1 15.
Rxa1 d4 16. Qb2 Bg4 17. b4 dxc3 18. Bxc3 Bxf3 19. Bxf3 Bb6 20. Nf5 Qxd3 21. Rd1
Qc4 ({Avoiding the tempting} 21… Bxf2+ 22. Kh1 $1 (22. Kxf2 Nxe4+ 23. Bxe4
Qxd1 24. Qe2 {may also hold}) 22… Qc4 23. Rc1 Bb6 24. Bxe5 Qe6 25. Bxf6 Qxf6
26. Qxf6 gxf6 27. b5 {is roughly equal}) 22. b5 Nxe4 ({It is very hard to find
the correct continuation here} 22… Nd4 $1 23. Nxd4 Nxe4 $1 {and everthing
falls into place} 24. Bxe4 exd4 25. Bxd4 Bxd4 26. Qxd4 (26. Rxd4 Rxe4 {
expolits the weak back rank}) 26… Rxe4) 23. Bxe4 Qxe4 24. bxc6 Qxf5 {I
thought I was in good shape here but it’s not easy to collect the ‘b’ pawn.}
25. cxb7 Rb8 ({I considered} 25… Qe4 26. h3 Qxb7 27. Bxe5 f6 {was too
dangerous but in fact} 28. Qa2+ Kh8 29. Bxf6 gxf6 30. Qf7 Qe4 {fails so I
could keep some practical chances.}) 26. Bxe5 Rxb7 ({Originally I was intending
} 26… Kh7 27. h3 ({Not} 27. Bxg7 Qg4) 27… f6 $4 (27… Rxb7 28. Bxc7 {is
like the game}) {However} 28. Qxb6 $1 {turns the tables spectacularly as} cxb6
29. Bxb8 Qe4 30. Rd7 {wins.}) 27. Bxc7 Bxf2+ 28. Qxf2 Qxf2+ 29. Kxf2 Rxc7 30.
h4 Rc4 31. g3 g5 32. hxg5 hxg5 33. Rd5 g4 34. Ke3 Kg7 35. Rd6 f6 36. Rd2 Kg6
37. Kf2 Kf5 38. Re2 Re4 39. Ra2 Rd4 40. Re2 Rd5 41. Kg2 Re5 42. Rf2+ Ke6 43.
Ra2 Rd5 44. Re2+ Kd6 45. Kf2 f5 46. Re8 Rb5 47. Rd8+ Ke5 48. Re8+ Kd4 49. Rd8+
Rd5 50. Re8 Kd3 51. Re3+ Kc4 52. Re2 Kd4 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
[pgn height=350 initialply=36]
[Event "19th European Teams"]
[Site "Warsaw POL"]
[Date "2013.11.17"]
[Round "9.6"]
[White "Adams, Michael"]
[Black "Socko, Bartosz"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B52"]
[WhiteElo "2752"]
[BlackElo "2661"]
[Annotator "Mickey"]
[PlyCount "192"]
[EventDate "2013.11.08"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2010.03.20"]
[WhiteTeam "ENGLAND"]
[BlackTeam "POLAND"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bxb5 6. cxb5 g6 7. d4 cxd4 8.
Nxd4 Bg7 9. O-O Nbd7 10. Qe2 O-O 11. Rd1 Rc8 12. a4 Nc5 13. Bg5 h6 14. Bh4 Qd7
15. h3 Nh5 16. Ra3 Bxd4 ({Dubious the waiting move} 16… Rfe8 {was stronger.})
17. Rxd4 Ne6 18. Rd1 Nef4 19. Qf3 ({I had intended} 19. Qg4 {here} f5 ({After}
19… e6 20. e5 {or} (20. Bg3 {is good.})) 20. exf5 Rxf5 21. Nd5 {but then
realised} Rxd5 ({the computer points out} 21… Nxd5 22. Rxd5 Ng7 {is also
playable}) 22. Qxd7 Rxd1+ 23. Kh2 Rcc1 24. Qe8+ Kh7 25. Qxe7+ Kg8 {leads to a
draw.}) ({However} 19. Qe3 {is strong as the game continuation is not possible
due to} g5 20. Bg3 Nxg3 21. fxg3 {when a7 is hanging.}) 19… g5 20. Bg3 Nxg3
21. fxg3 Ng6 22. Nd5 Qe6 23. Qe3 Rc2 24. Rd2 Rxd2 ({I was more concerned about
} 24… Rfc8) 25. Qxd2 Qxe4 26. Re3 Qxa4 27. Nxe7+ ({Capturing with the rook
was also possible} 27. Rxe7 Qxb5 (27… Nxe7 28. Nxe7+ Kg7 29. Nf5+ Kg6 30.
Qxd6+ Kxf5 31. Qxf8) 28. Nf6+ Kh8 29. Qc2) 27… Nxe7 28. Rxe7 Qxb5 29. Qxd6
Qxb2 30. Kh2 ({After} 30. Qxh6 $1 Qb1+ 31. Kh2 Qg6 32. Qxg6+ fxg6 33. Rxb7 Ra8
34. Rb4 ({Not} 34. Rb5 a5 35. Rxg5 Kf7 36. Rc5 a4 37. Rc2 a3 38. Ra2 Ke6) 34…
a5 35. Ra4 Kf7 36. Kg1 Ke6 37. Kf2 {a draw is on the cards. Miraculously I
managed to save half a point anyway after many adventures.}) 30… Kg7 31. Qd5
b6 32. Rxa7 Qf6 33. Ra3 Rd8 34. Qa2 Rd1 35. Rf3 Qe6 36. Qb2+ f6 37. Qc3 Qd6 38.
Re3 h5 39. Qc8 h4 40. Qb7+ Kh6 41. Qc8 hxg3+ 42. Rxg3 Kg7 43. Qb7+ Kf8 44. Qa8+
Ke7 45. Qb7+ Kd8 46. Qa8+ Kc7 47. Qa7+ Kc6 48. Qa8+ Kb5 49. Qe8+ Kb4 50. Qe4+
Rd4 51. Qc2 Kb5 52. Qb3+ Kc6 53. Qf3+ Kc7 54. Qc3+ Kb8 55. Kg1 Rd1+ 56. Kf2
Qd2+ 57. Qxd2 Rxd2+ 58. Ke3 Rb2 59. Kd4 Kc7 60. Rf3 Rd2+ 61. Kc4 Rd6 62. g3 Kd7
63. g4 Kc6 64. Rf5 Re6 65. Rf3 b5+ 66. Kd4 Rd6+ 67. Kc3 Kd5 68. Kb4 Rb6 69. Rf1
Ke5 70. Kc5 Rb8 71. Kb4 Rd8 72. Rf5+ Ke6 73. Rf3 Rd5 74. Re3+ Re5 75. Rf3 f5
76. gxf5+ Rxf5 77. Ra3 Rd5 78. Ra8 Kf5 79. Rh8 Kf4 80. Rh5 Rf5 81. Ka5 Re5 82.
Kb4 Kf5 83. Rh6 Re6 84. Rh8 Rb6 85. Kc5 Rb7 86. Kc6 Ra7 87. Kxb5 Rc7 88. Rh6
Rc1 89. Kb4 Kf4 90. Rh5 Rh1 91. Kc4 Kf5 92. Kd3 Rd1+ 93. Ke2 Rd8 94. h4 Rg8 95.
hxg5 Rxg5 96. Rxg5+ Kxg5 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]

Bilbao Bonus

I enjoyed my first visit to Bilbao, a beautiful city with excellent views and great food. We took the opportunity to check out the Guggenheim Museum before catching our flight home.
The tournament was intense with six games in a row at the challenging time limit of 40 moves in 90 minutes with no increment. I was satisfied with my result, but my final score was rather flattering as I won both games with Maxime Vachier Lagrave, the first would have been drawn but his last second elapsed whilst he was making his 40th move. In the second I spent the whole game trying to prevent my position falling apart, but after the dust had settled on some timetrouble confusion I was suddenly winning.

Simul at Bickleigh on Exe Primary School


I visited Bickleigh on Exe Primary School last week for an informal chat with the pupils of the chess club and to give a simul. A very eager and well behaved group of children, and I hope this will inspire them to even more success in the future! Congratulations to all and especially to Maddy Cotton for playing the best game.

P.S Many thanks for the beautifully illustrated letters I received from the children afterwards. Much appreciated!

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Sing-a-Long at Hay

It’s not often that you get to experience chess set to music. Mickey and I made a visit to the Hay Festival on the final weekend. For me it was a happy chance to wander about, taking in a bit here and a bit there of Hay’s unique atmosphere popping in and out of lectures and glorying in a nice sunny day. For Mickey it was to take on challengers in The Telegraph tent at Blitz. Here’s where is got weird and wonderful – the other Telegraph tent guest that that day was Cerys Matthews giving a lovely intimate performance of songs from her new book Hook, Line and Singer: A Sing-a-long Book while chess fans were blitzing it out with Mickey a couple of feet away. Chess and sing-a-long: is this the next chess-boxing?

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Chess and Squirrels

My study has been groaning under the ever increasing weight of chess books for some time and in an effort to free up some space on my bookshelves I asked Malclom Pein if the Chess in Schools Charity might have a use for some of the more antiquated tomes. Local CSC organiser Robert Chandler came to pick them up, I had planned to link up with him for an event in Bristol last year but it hadn’t panned out. We came up with a plan for me to do a simul at one of the schools in his area, the Westbury on Trym Church of England Academy, which sports one of the cutest logos I’ve seen. Every year at the London Chess Classic, the good news of the increased number of new chess teachers, students and schools involved with the charity is announced and it was great to get more involved at ground level.

It only remains for me to wish my new friends, the Westbury on Trym Academy team, good luck at the National U-11 event at Uppingham today.