November 9, 2005
On Saturday, I took part in a rapidplay chess tournament in the wonderful ‘old world’ Kings’ Hall at Newcastle University. The tournament has been a happy hunting ground for me, and Saturday was no exception.
My final round opponent was Grandmaster Danny Gormally, one of England’s best players… he was joint leader of the tournament, and no doubt expected an easy passage to 1st prize in the final game. I was late getting to the game, and more than a little surprised to find myself paired against him.
My chances should have been between zero and very low, but nonetheless, I felt reasonably relaxed. I’m a believer that psychology plays a significant role in chess (and in other sports), and that a player is often beaten by a ‘stronger’ opponent before the game even starts: they expect to lose, their body language is poor, and they doubt and double check their every move. For the most part I rose above that for this game, playing confidently and quickly (perhaps buoyed by the fact that our two previous meetings had resulted in a win apiece, albeit that my victory was only a 10 minute game some years ago).
To the game itself: I played the opening fairly weakly, and suspected that I might end up in trouble on the dark squares around my king; I acquired the bishop pair though, and was feeling happy that my position was active and the game double edged. My first and only considerable thought in the game was on move 19, weakening my f7 square but activating a rook in the centre and concealing a tactical shot. Danny also thought long about his reply, but nonetheless failed to spot the tactical threat… his seemingly logical reply, costing him a piece and the game. I uncorked my response immediately, and got up to punch the air and gather some friends, returning to the board in time to accept Danny’s resignation. My first win against a grandmaster in serious tournament play:
Daniel Gormally (245) – Roger Coathup (180), Kings’ Rapidplay, 5th November, 2005
1 e4 c5; 2 Nc3 Nc6; 3 Bb5 Nd4; 4 Bc4 e6; 5 Nf3 g6; 6 Nd4 cd; 7 Nb5 Qb6; 8 c3 dc; 9 dc a6; 10 Nd4 Bg7; 11 O-O Ne7; 12 Rb1 O-O; 13 Be3 Qc7; 14 Bb3 Nc6; 15 Rc1 Na5; 16 f4 Nb3; 17 Qb3 d6; 18 f5 ef; 19 ef Re8; 20 Rf3 Re3 0-1
September 15, 2005
I had real trouble describing the significance of a game against Kramnik to my non-chess playing friends and colleagues; in the end I reached for an analogy… it’s like being offered a round of golf with Tiger Woods or a game of tennis with Roger Federer… but hey, I reckon it’s even more important than that!
Playing him over the internet was a little strange; the lack of personal contact and not getting to chat with him directly took away a little of the gloss; the comments of the ‘crowd’ were great, but distracting when you’re straining your neurons trying to find counterplay on the 64 squares.
Anyway, to the game itself… it went pretty much as expected (feared). Kramnik got a slight advantage out of the opening; I sacrificed a pawn to get an active and hopefully complicated position; He found a cool, collected solution though… I got active, but he avoided anything complicated and gradually realised his advantage.
I’d prepared an obscure sideline of the King’s Indian during the afternoon hoping to catch him unprepared. Sure enough the game went down that line… first blood to me perhaps! Unfortunately, he wasn’t unprepared, played the strongest line and I suspect was still “in his book” when my theory ended.
So, to the moves… I was annoyed immediately I played my 18th … Re6; maybe I was ok until this point, but … Re6 letting his k-side pawns start to roll was even worse than just a waste of time. I can play on longer at the end with 37… Kf8, but the ending would still be winning for White.
Vladimir Kramnik (2744, World Champion) – Roger Coathup (2134)
1 d4 Nf6; 2 c4 g6; 3 Nc3 Bg7; 4 e4 d6; 5 Nf3 O-O; 6 Be2 c5; 7 O-O Nc6; 8 d5 Na5; 9 h3 a6; 10 Bf4 e5 (both … Rb8 and … Nd7 have been tried here, I choose to sacrifice the d6 pawn… there is a similar line in the Averbakh, but here White is a tempo up on development and the knight on a5 seems very offside) 11 de Be6; 12 Bd6 Re8; 13 Bc5 Nc4; 14 Qd8 Rad8; 15 Bc4 Bc4; 16 Re1 Nd7; 17 Bd6 Bc3; 18 bc Re6; 19 e5 Bd5; 20 Nd4 Ree8; 21 f4 Rc8; 22 Ne2 Nb6; 23 a3 Nc4; 24 Red1 Be6; 25 Kf2 Nd6; 26 Rd6 Rc7; 27 R1d1 Bc4; 28 Ng3 Bb3; 29 Rd3 Rec8; 30 Ne4 Bc2; 31 Nf6+ Kg7; 32 Re3 Bf5; 33 g4 Be6; 34 R3d3 Rc3; 35 Rc3 Rc3; 36 Rd8+ Rc8; 37 Ne8+ Kh6?; 38 Rc8 Bc8; 39 g5+ Kh5; 40 Kg3 1-0
Many thanks again to ajedrez21.com for the chance to play.
September 14, 2005
Tomorrow night at 6pm as part of an internet simultaneous display. Vladimir will be sat in Paris; I’ll be one of 8 opponents scattered around the world. Thanks to the guys at the spanish site ajedrez21.com for the opportunity to play (you can get it in English as well on chess21.com).
Unfortunately, Kramnik has the White pieces. With White, I’d have been reasonably confident of reaching a competitive middlegame, but with Black even that will be difficult. Kramnik’s opening knowledge is phenomenal, and he’s famously strong against one of my favourite Black openings (the King’s Indian Defence). We’ll see!
For the aficionados reading… Kramnik gets 60 mins + 30 secs per move, I get 20 mins + 30 secs.