Politiken Cup 2009

This year I decided to make a serious change in my summer schedule and instead of playing “my favourite” Biel Open I took part in famous Danish open. This time it was a successful attempt and I shared first place with Indian Grandmaster Negi with unexpectedly high score of 8.5 out of 10.

I should say that organization was on very high level, especially for open tournament. A private car was waiting for us when we landed in Copenhagen Airport and our trip to the place, where the tournament was held took us only 40 minutes. The place is called “Lo-Skollen” and it’s mostly used for different kind of meetings and conferences. In general the place is ideal for playing chess with nice green nature around the complex. You can have a nice walking before and after the game.

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You can even eat some fresh fruits during the walk

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After 10 minutes you can get close to the Baltic Sea

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All the meals you have inside the complex, as well as you can have a free cofee and tea 24 hours. The playing hall has very interesting structure : first 12 boards has been played in the main room , which I should say looked very nice and was comfortable for everybody players and spectators ( big screens with live coverage). Not every close tournament has such a good conditions.

The tournament field was quite strong for open tournament. We had one 2700+ player Vladimir Malakhov, I was seeded number 7 behind such a strong players like: Peter Heine Nielsen, Sergey Tiviakov, Gabriel Sargissian, Alexey Dreev and Evgeny Postny. There were also all the best players from Sweden, Norway and of course Denmark.

First round was quite easy for me. I won very convincing game against Hansen (one of many :))

1 round

Black’s  last move  26…g5 was a huge error. After 27 Ne4 Qf4 28 Qf4 he resigned not waiting for a nice mate in two after 28…gf 29. Nf6 followed by 30.Nf7.

In  second round I faced Swedish player Vanman Kent. The game was more competative than the first one, we were both short of time when we reached the following position:

round 2

Black has obvious positional edge, but White seems pretty solid. I managed to discover a nice manoeuvre 26…Re3! 27.Kg1 Rb3 my rook became very active and the game was decided in a few moves.

I was slightly worried about third round, since we played two games in one day and second one always promises tough struggle. My opponent was German Fide Master Mattias Bach. Already in the opening he suprised me with interesting exchange sacrifice

3 round

13 fe Qe7 Black has got interesting compensation for the exchange. During the game it was obvious to me that my opponent followed his home preparation, that he recognized immediately after the end of the game. The line actually has been suggested in my book, so he rightly guessed that I can choose this line. In the middlegame my opponent missed some good opportunities and game transfered to favourable endgame for me, that was converted to a full point not without mistakes.

In round four my opponent was Danish International Master Antonsen. The game saw a thematical complicated Grunfeld middlegame. I managed to outplay my opponent but in mutual timetrouble I missed a few easy wins. After we passed the mark of 40 moves Black still was clearly better, but his 43.Bg3

round 4

Allowed an elegant finish: 43…e2! 44.Re1 fg3 45.Qe5 hg 46.Qh2 Qd4+ and in view of 47…Rh7 my opponent resigned.

Round number five. Here comes the worse game of the tournament. My opponent Jonny Hector suprised me in the opening with very rare line in Slav:

round 5

After 11…f6 Black usually opts for long castle and chooses either 12…Nc5, or 12…Be6. 12 …0-0-0 came as a big suprise to me and no wonder , since this move occured very rarely on practice. My reaction was quite natural 13.Qc1 removing the queen from d-file, but he quickly reacted with interesting pawn sacrifice 13…Nc5 14.Be5 fe5 15.Qe3 Nb3! 16.Rad1 Bc5 and indeed he got a reliable compensation for the pawn. The idea to play 19.Nc4 followed by 20.Na3 was very poor, but I didn’t realized this during the game. In the following diagrammround 5(2)

my opponent found very strong idea  20…Nd2 21.Rfe1 Rf8! 22.e3 Bg4 23. Rc1 Ba3 24.ba3 Nf3 25.Bf3 Bf3 and has got a clear plus. Still it was possible to defend much more stubborn, but being already short of time I lost without much resistance.

Before the next round I was speaking with my close friend by telephone and he said me that I should play careful and draw might be a good result with Black pieces after such a painful loss. I couldn’t even imagine how right he was. My opponent was Swedish International Master Berg Claus. In the opening I decided to opt for the line of my childhood and telling the truth I was not really updated with the latest theory. In the following position

round 6

He suprised me with positionally sound  12.g4 !? Later I discovered a serious amount of games in my Database. Black has no choice and should play 12…f5 13.g5 Nf7. The critical moment appeared  on move 16th

round 6(2)

Every normal player would have captured with rook without much hesitation, while I decided to play original and recaptured with knight intending to continue with Be6 and Nc6 . Unfortunately this move is a big error, since I simply missed  17.Nb5! , which creates a very unpleasant threat of 18.Nc7 followed by 19.Ba7 . Black’s position appears to be critical, but somehow I managed to survive after my opponent comitted a mistake in mutual timetrouble.

In round seven I played against Danish player Skytte. He tried to suprise me already on move 2! choosing Budapesht Gambit, but I was pretty familiar with this opening, as recently I worked on this Gambit for my book. The middlegame saw quite interesting battle, that ended in my favour with extra pawn. The tecchnical part was very convincing I believe.

Round 8. My opponent was the member of Danish national Team from Dresden Olympiad- Rasmussen A. I rightly quessed that he will go for fashionable line in Breyer, that has been played by Anand in Amber tournament. I was studying intensively this position before the game, but I am not sure that my play in the opening was good enough. The critical moment arised after 21…ed4 , instead of recapturing my central pawn with knight my opponent played inaccurate 22.cb5

round 7

That allowed nice tactical touch 22…d3! and after 23.Bd3 cb5 Black remained with extra pawn. Later I played very bad and managed to win this game only due to my opponent’s blunder in the following position:

round 8

Here instead of 38 Bb2 , that should make an easy draw, my opponent commited desicive mistake by playing 38.Bd2? after 38…Ra7! Black is winning due to the weakness of White’s first rank.

In round 9 I played against young Norway young Grandmaster Ludvig Hammer. It looks like the opening was a suprise for him and he has spent a big amount of time, nevertheless he played very good moves (as later I discovered he followed the play of Vaganian). I didn’t manage to pose him any problems and he equalised comfortably, while I catched him on time.  We both were very short of time and in the following position

round 9

I wanted to play 28. Re1, but then I discovered that after 28…Re6! it’s not easy to discover a decent move for me, when I was shocked to see my time expired with 3,2 and 1 seconds and indeed it’s unbelievable how I managed to play 28.Nd6 without losing on time. It looks like my opponent was even more shocked and after two moves he blundered an elegant tactical blow

round 9(2)

The last move he captured my pawn on c5, but this appeared to be a decisive mistake, as after 30.Nb7! Nb7 31.Qc6 Black’s position appears to be losing , as he cannot deal with misplaced position of his knight and weakness of his last rank together. It was really a shocking game and of course I will remember the moment when I managed to make my move with 1 second remaining for a long time:).

Last round gave me a great chance to fight for the tournament victory. I played with White against Russian Vladimir Malakhov the player with 2707 rating , who was leading through all the tournament, but somehow the round before he made a quick draw with White pieces against Indian Negi, that suprised me a lot, as it was obvious that in the last round he will face the player, who will try to fight for a win. It was a score of 2,5-0,5 in his favour before our game, but all the games he played with White pieces, so I was full of energy to take a revenge and to improve the overall score. Undoubtefully this was my best game in the tournament. There was everything important opening , interesting middlegame and finally very nice finish. In a few days I would like to publish this game fully commented here.

Scoring + 7 out of 10 appears to be unsufficient for the victory in the tournament. I shared first place , but the winner of the tournament was claimed Inidian Negi, who played an extraordinary tournament. He also missed good winning chances against Postny and Sargissian respectively. Certainly I was very satisfied with my final result and especially with last game win!

The final standings of the Politiken Cup you can see here : http://www.ksu.dk/politiken_cup/turnering/stilling.aspx?tur_id=627&aar=2009&aar=2009

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