Saturday, 4 January 2014

27th SEA Games - the story (Part 3)

After the heart breaking loss in the previous round, I had to pull myself together as I had to face another strong Grandmaster in the form of Oliver Barbosa. A medal was still within reach but I had to win 2/2 which was anything but easy. Still, I was determined to make a fight out of it and the result was another interesting fighting game:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "6"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Oliver Barbosa"] [Result "*"] [ECO "B12"] [PlyCount "64"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. c4 $5 {This was an old move favoured by the Romanian Grandmaster Nevednichy which I felt contain a fair bit of venom. Ideal for blitz and rapid!} ({I have also played} 4. Nd2) ({and} 4. h4 h5 5. c4 {before.}) 4... e6 5. Nc3 Nd7 6. Nge2 Ne7 7. Ng3 Bg6 8. cxd5 cxd5 9. Bd3 Nc6 10. O-O Qh4 11. Bb5 $1 Rc8 (11... Bb4) 12. Be3 (12. f4 $5 f5 ({grabbing a pawn with} 12... Nxd4 $2 13. Bxd7+ Kxd7 14. Be3 {is too dangerous for Black}) 13. exf6 Nxf6 14. f5 $1 {with the idea} Ng4 15. h3 Qxg3 16. Bf4 Ne3 17. Bxg3 Nxd1 18. Raxd1 {and with the pair bishop in full force in a wide-open position, this looks very promising for White.}) 12... Bb4 13. f4 f5 14. Rc1 {With simple play, White has secured more space and an easy advantage.} Qe7 15. Qb3 ( 15. Na4 $1 O-O 16. a3 Ba5 17. Rf2 $1 {followed by Rfc2 is a logical and strong positional idea.}) 15... Ba5 $2 16. a3 $2 ({The unlikely} 16. Bxc6 $1 bxc6 17. Nb5 $1 {wins a pawn by force.}) 16... O-O 17. Na4 Bb6 18. Nxb6 Nxb6 19. Rc3 $2 {A serious inaccuracy that allows Black to make sense of his previously awkward pieces.} (19. Qd3 a6 20. Bxc6 Rxc6 21. Rxc6 bxc6 22. Bd2 $14 { maintains the advantage.}) 19... Na5 20. Qc2 Nac4 21. Qf2 Rc7 22. Rfc1 Rfc8 { Black had built impressively on the queenside and I decided to sacrifice a pawn to relieve myself of some of that pressure. Objectively, this was unnecessary but I gained a lot of practical chances especially due to the time control.} 23. b3 $5 Nxa3 24. Rxc7 Rxc7 25. Bd3 Be8 26. Rc5 a6 27. Qa2 Nb5 28. Qa5 Nc8 29. Qd2 Rxc5 30. dxc5 Nba7 31. Bc2 Bb5 32. h3 g6 *
I wasn't able to recall the full game here but after a series of twists and turns, we arrived at the following position:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "6"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Oliver Barbosa"] [Result "0-1"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5k2/2nQ4/4p2p/1PP1qp2/2B3p1/6PP/6K1/8 w - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "1"] {I'm not exactly sure of the details but we reached a position that looks approximately like this. I had several chances to play the obvious and pretty straightforward} 1. Qd6+ {, winning right away. This is one of those moves that I'll normally play 9 out of 10 times and again, it is inexplicable how I can miss such a simple move. As luck would have it, I went on to lose the game, and together with it, my medal chances once and for all.} 0-1
Clearly, I was nowhere on Caissa's good books. In the last round, I took the black pieces against Grandmaster John Paul Gomez who was still in the running for a medal finish. After 2 devastating afternoon losses, I was not exactly in the best of moods and decided to go all out for a consolation win: A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "7"] [White "John Paul Gomez"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B00"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "78"] 1. d4 Nc6 $1 {No, I was not interested in any theoretical battles and simply want to play creative chess.} 2. e4 e5 (2... d5 {is also one of my favourites.} ) 3. dxe5 Nxe5 4. Nf3 Nxf3+ 5. Qxf3 Bc5 6. Nc3 Ne7 7. Bc4 O-O 8. Bg5 h6 9. h4 $5 Qe8 10. O-O-O d6 11. Qg3 Kh8 12. Nb5 Bb6 {Here, I felt I was getting pressed but I thought White's pieces were not exactly well placed too. If I manage to get my light square bishop out in time, Black would be fine.} 13. Qc3 Ng8 (13... Bd7 $1 {is strong, with the idea} 14. Bxh6 $4 f6 $1) 14. Be3 (14. f3 Bd7 15. Nd4 Qe5 16. Kb1 Rae8 17. Bd5 {seems better for White.}) 14... a6 $1 { My opponent missed this move in his calculations.} 15. Nd4 $2 ({Sacrificing a pawn for very little. After the game, I suggested} 15. Na3 {but Gomez didn't like} Bxe3+ (15... Qxe4 16. Bxb6 cxb6) 16. Qxe3 b5 {when he felt his knight was slightly estranged. However,} 17. Bd5 Rb8 18. Qa7 Be6 {would have remained pretty unclear.}) 15... Qxe4 16. f3 Qe5 17. Qb3 Bd7 (17... Nf6 $1 18. Rhe1 d5 $1 {would have been very good for Black.}) 18. Rhe1 Qf6 {This allows White to launch an attack afterall.} (18... Qg3 $1 19. Bxf7 $4 Bxd4 $1 $19) 19. g4 $1 { Now everything is unclear again.} Qxh4 20. Bxf7 Qf6 21. Bxg8 Rxg8 22. g5 Qf8 23. Rh1 Re8 24. gxh6 g5 $1 {For some weird reason, Black is still surviving here and despite the loose king, I can at least point to the activity in all my pieces as consolation. It is not easy for White to make progress in his attack although the passed h-pawn looks menacing, it provided ample cover for my king. I was very optimistic about my position here and felt it contained good practical chances.} 25. Qd3 Qf6 26. Qd2 Re7 27. Kb1 Bc6 28. c3 $2 { Overlooking an important trick.} Bxf3 $1 29. h7 (29. Nxf3 Bxe3 $17) (29. Rdf1 Qg6+ $1 {wins for Black.}) 29... Rgg7 30. Rdf1 Qg6+ (30... g4 $1 $17) 31. Ka1 Bxh1 32. Rf8+ $1 {I completely missed this move and was very fortunate that I wasn't just losing.} Kxh7 33. Qh2+ Qh6 34. Rh8+ Kxh8 35. Qxh6+ Kg8 36. Qxh1 ( 36. Ne6 $1 Bxe3 37. Nxg7 Rxg7 38. Qxh1 c6 39. Qe4 Bf4 40. Qe8+ {forces a draw. Now Black is back in the driver's seat.}) 36... Rxe3 37. Nf5 Re5 38. Nxg7 Kxg7 $2 {A terrible automatic move.} ({Missing the not so obvious} 38... Bf2 $3 {, winning immediately.}) 39. a3 d5 {The game went on for many moves but with very little time, I was not able to stifle White's counter play effectively (he managed to take my b7-pawn and create a passed a-pawn) and had to be content with a draw.} 1/2-1/2

The result was certainly disappointing but I felt good about my play in general and with a bit of luck, a medal was certainly not unthinkable. Ultimately, the experience and composure of the Grandmasters told in the end but at least I put up a lot of resistance and was happy that I was able to get good positions despite the lack of theoretical discussion involved. I generally rely on my opening preparation a lot but the games at the very least show that I was able to play creatively when I need to.

The next few days were spent earnestly preparing for the Mixed Pair Transfer event. Before the Games, it was everyone's opinion that here lies our best chance of snaring a medal, given that the rules were written locally and we had the benefit of actually playing out the rules in training games by following the National Transfer Chess Championships, even before these were finalised. After following the Mens' Pair tournament, it was clear how difficult it was going to be. The street style of transfer chess clearly suited the Indonesians who looked formidable in their gold and bronze medal finishes in the Mens' Pair. Megaranto in particular was a speed monster who plays amazingly fast and accurate. At the same time, they had the benefit of training against one another during the days leading up to the event while Yang and I had no one to train with (more on this in a later post). We were fortunate that the Malaysians offered to train with us or else we would literally have zero warm up games. A shout out to Yee Weng, Zhuo-ren, Jianwen, Li Ting and Nabila, thanks a lot guys!

We finished tied 4th, losing in critical matches to both Indonesian teams and the Vietnamese pair of Dao Thien Hai and Nhu Y. We certainly had our chances but I am fairly confident in saying the above medal winners would beat virtually any Mens' Pair from Singapore, such is the strength of the Indonesian girls in display. Still, I am very pleased with our final result and feel that both Yang and I could not have done anything more.

I'll just like to credit my partner for being very accommodating with all my training requests and putting up with a lot of my harsh words during practice. I am genuinely very proud of her as she clearly improved by leaps and bounds and saved a lot of the games when I was in dire straits.

To all those who have been encouraging and helping us throughout this period, thank you. It means a lot to us. If we do include Chess in the next SEA Games, 2015 will be a better year!

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