Round six report

Best game prize: LeilaPeymani
Best fight: dikankan – Glenton1812
Lord of tragedy: JulianClissold
Tip of the round: Unleash the bishop pair! (see Calcina – hsk4u)

Lichess study:

Round summary:

The tournament organisers care far more about people having fun, and learning along the way than about individual results and who wins. Despite this, we were delighted that the battle for first place boiled down to an incredible battle between two great players, with White having to win. The game more than lived up to expectations and both sides can take huge pride in the game. However like in the 1986 movie “Highlander” there ‘can be only one’ and that was Glenton1812 who defended brilliantly under serious time pressure to hold the draw and take the crown. The game easily wins our ‘best fight’ prize, weighing in at 105 moves and with the result of the entire tournament hanging in the balance until the very end.

A quick special mention for forknskewer64 – Mulummm. Black sacrifices three kingside pawns for a fantastic attack, both sides play quite excellently, but Mulummm couldn’t find the spectacular double piece sacrifice to force the draw.

LeilaPeymani picks up the best game prize as White in a Classical Pirc. As you’ll have picked up by now, while we love an aggressive attack, central control is the magical idea that strong players use to win game after game without apparently doing anything special. Here Black’s 7…b5 runs into powerful central play with 8.e5! and White dominates the whole game.

There are poor moves, bad moves, blunders, and then there are the ones where the whole world just falls away from you. Spare a thought for JulianClissold, who played a fantastic game against one of the tournament’s star players. WearyWilly was in the lead for much of the tournament, and has finally come in joint second, but on this occasion was outplayed in convincing fashion, and was forced to the brink of resignation when JulianClissold picked the wrong square for the queen with 27.Qc2?? instead of 27.Qf2! Chess can be bitterly cruel, 26 excellent moves, 1 incorrect one, then that sinking feeling!

For our tip of the round we’d like to talk about the bishop pair. Bishops and knights are of roughly the same value (about three pawns depending on the circumstance), but in ‘open positions’ (where pawns aren’t locked up in the centre causing a blockage) having two bishops versus a bishop and a knight is usually a strong advantage. The position in Calcina – hsk4u after move 21 is a great example, White has two connected passed pawns on the queenside, and is a full pawn up. Normally this would be a simple win, but Black’s bishop pair radiates menace, in the game Black underestimates their strength and misses chances to use them to win a pawn and seize the initiative and the pawns break through, but it remains a great example of how powerful the two bishops can become.

Game summaries:

  • dikankan - Glenton1812: A 105 move classic. White needed a win, for Black a draw would be enough to secure the tournament win. Black’s opening system is complex and interesting, both sides played well, but Black was able to reach a promising King’s Indian Defence style position. Faced with a challenging position White choose to complicate the position with 12.g4, and managed the complications well locking up the kingside and embedding a knight on f6. White then sacrificed a pawn to gain a powerful queenside initiative, with a securely defended advanced a-pawn cramping Black’s position. White presses hard, and the game hangs on a knife-edge. The game boils down to a sharp rook pawn endgame, and under sever time pressure Glenton1812 holds on and scrapes through with the draw, and the tournament win.

  • WearyWilly – Julianclissold: White plays a rare gambit line against the French and succeeds in regaining the pawn, reaching a promising position with more central control. Black hits back in the centre and a complex and level position arises. Both sides play aggressively, but it Black who succeeds in generating threats against the White king and then on the cusp of victory it all goes horribly wrong.

  • LeilaPeymani - Kobra666: A smooth Classic Pirc for White. Black is optimistic in playing 7…b5 and 8.e5! gives White a powerful central initiative. White quickly picks up the bishop pair and in the following complications finds a lovely tactic to win significant levels of material. White chooses to sacrifice material back to reach a two pawn up endgame, and finds nice tactics against Black’s king to pick up a piece and close out the game.

  • Tilbs_11 - tottydpogi22: An interesting game, White gets a good version of a Semi-Slav with the darksquared bishop placed on f4 early. White plays simple sensible developing movings, with the position after White’s move 12 being a lovely demonstration of efficient development, each piece on a good square having been moved once. The only problem for White is the bishop on f4 can be attacked by …Nh5, and White should have invested a tempo in h3 to give the bishop a safe square on h2. Luckily for White, Black decided not to chase after the bishop, and in seeking activity Black made a position error with 14…Ne4, and had to retreat it immediately back to f6 the next go after White’s 15.c4. While material is level, White has a large positional advantage at this point, which may explain why Black gets drawn into a tactical error with the overambitious 19…Bxh3 – which fails as White doesn’t have to capture the bishop immediately, but has useful inbetween moves attacking Black’s queen. Having won the piece White dominates and is able to launch a powerful attack against Black’s king forcing resignation.

  • Mark2_alias - Mags2020: Via a London system move order we reach a Pirc in which Black hasn’t played …d6. This highlights an illustrative point, pawn centres are powerful and can be used to kick opponent’s pieces off good squares and onto worse ones. Here the move 5.e5! forces Black’s knight off f6, and while e8 would have been the best square it went to the more optimistic h5 square. This was however an exposed position, and White won the knight quickly with the simple pawn move g4. Black tried to complicate, but White was too good and a further tactic wins Black’s queen and the game.

  • Riff-Art – online: An interesting game for a couple of reasons. White plays an unusual idea against the Caro-Kann, allowing Black to play 4…Qxd1 and misplace the White king (after 5.Kxd1). Despite the odd looking play White is in no way worse, and with all the minor pieces and rooks on the board there is all to play for. White’s 8.Ne1! is an excellent move and demonstration that chess is full of rich and interesting ideas. Both sides miss the cheeky move 12.Ne5! which at first looks normal, but nothing special, until you realise that the f7 pawn can’t be defended. The position after White’s move 21 is really interesting, White has two ‘backwards pawns’ and Black’s bishop on d4 looks impressive. However, the reality is the bishop isn’t that great as it can’t attack anything meaningful with all White’s central pawns on the other coloured squares, while White’s knight will be very flexible. White should have therefore been content to draw, but instead sacrificed a pawn ambitiously with 23.b5 and was then crushed mercilessly by Black whose technique was more than sufficient to play that sort of position.

  • calcina - hsk4u: An offbeat Panov-Botvinnik attack against the Caro-Kann. Both sides develop naturally, but not typically for the opening. White goes for an ambitious attack with 10.Nb5 – this is called a ‘decentralising’ move as it moves a piece that is controlling the centre away from the centre. This is of course a bad idea unless it works! In this case it shouldn’t have worked and after the strong 10…a6! 11.Nd6 (11.Na3 was best) the move 11…Nh5 would have won a piece for Black. The game is balanced, but Black errs with the natural and strong looking 14…e5, but this drops Black’s d5 pawn to 15.Qxd5 and after the dust settles White is a pawn up with two powerful connected passed pawns, but Black has a strong bishop pair. The game is then always likely to be decided by which side is able to get their advantage to work, and Black misses a couple of chances to invade with the bishops, which means that White’s pawns power down the board and win the game.

  • Damo770 - Xerxes51: A nice Queen’s Indian game with some good play from both sides. The opening follows hundreds of high quality games, and following some creative play by White with 9.Ne5 and 11.Ng4 Black is able to open up the f-file. White meets 13…fxg3 with 14.fxg3 which is usually wrong, instead 14.hxg3 capturing towards the centre would be stronger. Black then progresses to build strong central pressure, but is unable to maintain it and the game trades down to a queen and pawn endgame. White presses forward, and unwisely sacrifices a pawn. Black is then able to force queens off with check, and the resulting pawn endgame is won for Black. Won, but these pawn endgame are remarkably complex, the analysis shows that Black’s 57…h5? is an error, while after the correct 57…Kd6! 58.Kf5, then the move 58…h5!! would be winning, as Black’s king is one square further in the right direction. The game hangs on a knife edge and at the end White is one tempo away from managing to reach a drawn position.

  • Yolksac – clhchess: A rather curious game. White plays passively in the opening, but hits back with a queenside expansion. Black launches a powerful looking kingside attack, but miscalculates and with 14…g4 loses a central pawn. A simple rule of thumb is that if you lose control of the centre, then any attack you have on a wing will quickly fail, and this proves to be the case. Suddenly the tables are turned and it is White attacking the Black king, winning material and taking home the full point.

  • dmh6 – abeswick: An interesting battle in a four knights open game. I really like Black’s 14…d5! exploiting White’s failure to castle, but the game turns on the White’s response, 15.Bb3 was required as then 15…dxe4 wouldn’t be possible due to Black’s f7 pawn being attacked twice. Instead White played 15.Bb5, which gave Black a free tempo in 15…c6, and after the bishop moved 16…dxe4! Black comes out of the complications two pawns up, and by mobilising the f-pawn is able to smash through White’s defences.

  • forknskewer64 – Mulummm: A fascinating Colle game in which both sides should take credit. Black played quite enterprisingly sacrificing three kingside pawns to open up lines for rooks and squares for the Black minor pieces. Black got a lot of pieces near the White king, and White could easily have been crushed. Instead White played some lovely defensive play getting the best out of the White minor pieces in particular. Technically Black was successful enough and managed to create threats that White couldn’t defend, but was unable to find the extraordinary sacrifice required at move 36 (36…Nf4!! or 36…Rxh4!!) which would have been a glorious double piece sacrifice leaving White two full rooks up, but giving a draw by perpetual check. With this opportunity gone, suddenly it was White with the game finishing tactic and Black had to resign.

  • szveltz - jack43lin: A lovely Slav by White. Black makes a crucial mistake in playing …Bb4, …Qa5 and …Bxc3 – this proves problematic as this bishop is Black’s ‘good bishop’ while Black is left with a ‘bad’ bishop on c8. Furthermore the Queen is then a target for White’s forces buying White time. White chooses the committal 11.c5, which quickly morphs into a powerful and decisive attack.

  • nokiokid - Hydefc1: An advance French which starts out well for Black. Black’s big problem in the advance French is the ‘bad bishop’ on c8. White gives Black a helping hand with Bb5+ and then swapping off Black’s ‘bad bishop’. White is left with a problem bishop on c1, and after f4 this bishop has few prospects, and the simple 11.cxd4 would have left Black with a big advantage. Black the makes a critical error, playing 12…c4 locking up the pawn structure on the queenside, and closing the centre. White is then free to attack on the queenside with almost no risk, and it is not long until White crashes through.

  • Anglo – fredspassky: In the opening battle Black loses several tempos moving the same knight several times. White uses these free moves to pick up a large lead in development and then the Black queen is slightly unluckily lost as it is attacked and finds itself with no squares. White then follows up with a quick mating attack.

  • anikamehta - P1nFork: The game follows a reversed Queen’s Gambit accepted. White develops quickly, with the plan of a kingside attack, while Black focuses on central control. When White attacks with 8.Ng5 Black calmly castles and then hits back in the centre with 9…e5. With 12…Nc6 Black completes development with a dominant central position. White tries a sacrificial attack on f7, but this leads to the queens being swapped off and Black’s central dominance allows for further material gain and White wisely decides that there is no way back.

  • BFS127 - pranavmehta06: A scotch game leads to an exciting tactical battle which both sides land strong tactical blows and Black comes out on top. One useful point to note is that after 3.d4 Black should not play 3…Nxd4 (but instead 3…exd4) as this results in White’s queen coming to d4, where Black has no good way to drive it out of the centre.

  • Alex_Escacs - Smthdeedog778: An interesting g3 semi-slav defence in which White gets sucked into a speculative kingside attack with 19.Qg5, enabling the Black queen to break into the centre and win White’s central pawns. As we’ve repeated often, losing the centre usually means losing the game, and so it proves here, with White’s attack stalling immediately and instead Black using the centralised queen to form a decisive checkmating attack.