After the Olympics, I put my ambitions
regarding chess aside. It has not stopped my from playing,
only meant a new way of selecting tournaments.
This weekend, I was in the health resort Pühajärve in Estonia, where a friendly handicap rapid tournament took place. Alexander Khalifman cancelled his participation, so I didn't get the chance to play an ex-World Champion, but there were still five Grandmasters with Nigel Short as the most famous. The tournament was a closed round robin with 32 players, mostly chess players that's also famous business men or writers.
I had planned a relaxing journey, but me and ambition haven't yet agreed to a common level. At Helsinki Airport, I suddenly found myself preparing with white and black against 31 opponents, which took so long time that I was 45 minutes late for boarding! Well, I completely forgot that Finland is in another time zone, but luckily, the flight was waiting far over schedule.
Estonia is the only EU-country where the state budget shows a surplus, and that's even though the country was one of the hardest affected when the financial crises broke out. The salaries have been cut, but I have read that the people have accepted the reform without complains. Well, we didn't see anything of this at the SPA-hotel where we were playing.
My preparations worked nicely, surprising Kaido Kulaots, Normunds Mieziz and Tomi Nybäck with unusal lines. The theory was 17th, 13th and 10th moves respectively and gave me some additional time advantage. I took 2½/3 in those games. I was also myself victim of one nice prep, which actually came from Khalifman, when he coached Estonia's national team.
Against Short, I had a strong novelty prepared in the 12th move, but sadly he deviated one move earlier and won convincingly.
In the games against lower rated players, I was less successful and had a period in the middle of the tournament with 3½/10. I finished outside the prize list, but am satisfied to have beaten three GM:s and played the Norwegian Variation in Ruy Lopez. It was one year since my traumatic debut with that opening.
During the weekend, I also fulfilled the New Year promise from this blog; to start drinking alkohol again. It happened after all the losses, not the other way around!
In rapid chess, traps are appearing from everywhere, but they have to be hidden.
I can try 28.a5 and hope that Black will capture on b5 and lose due to the knight fork, but I think it's too obvious. I started with 28.Rb1 Kd7 and took some time before I played 29.Rb5 Kc6 30.a5. Now, my opponent swallowed the bet with 30...Kxb5?? and lost after 31.Nxd6+.
After 14.Qc2, Black thought he could save the pawn on e4 with 14...Be2 followed by Bd3 next, but 15.Ndxe4! Bxf1 16.Nxf6+ Qxf6 17.Qxh7+ was an unpleasant surprise to him. White's attack is crushing.
There were no increment, which gave some finishes where it was just about shuffeling pieces.
I am slightly better as Black with the outside passed pawn, but only played my pieces forth and back. White tried to do the same ...
... but was less successful! It's White's move, but he can't defend against 45...Bh6 mate! A nice way of creating a self-mate.
The organizers did a splendid job to create a friendly atmosphere, among other things with an excellent opening ceremony. Many thanks for the invitation!