EYCC U14 Open, Batumi, 20.10.2014 (Round 2)
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ gxf6 6.Nf3 Bf5 [6...Bg4 is a more common way of playing the position, but after 7.Be2 Qc7 8.0–0 Nd7 9.Nh4 Bxe2 10.Qxe2 white is slightly better]
7.g3!? [I wasn't entirely sure what to do here, as both g3 and Bd3 looked reasonable. I chose g3 because it will support a future Nh4 to block Black's h-pawn]
[7.Bd3 is the main line]
7…Nd7 8.Bg2 Nb6 9.0–0 Qd7 10.Re1 [I played this thinking I wanted to keep my bishop if he plays Bh3. However, playing Bh1 would strengthen black's attack]
[10.b3 or; 10.a4 would be stronger]
10…0–0–0 11.Be3 [11.a4 h5 12.a5 Nd5 13.a6 b6 14.Nh4 Bg4 15.Qd3 += was the best way forward for me]
11…Bh3 [I was worried about 11...Nc4 but 12.Bf4!? Nxb2 13.Qe2 Na4 14.Ne5! Nc3 (14...fxe5? 15.Qxe5+–) 15.Qe3 Qxd4 16.Nxf7 e5 17.Nxd8 Qxe3 18.Bxe3 Kxd8 19.Bxa7 +/-]
12.b3 h5 13.c4 [I wasn't too concerned about black's attack, so focused on getting his knight out of play]
13…h4 14.Nxh4 Bh6? [missing a strong tactic]
[14...Rxh4 doesn't work because 15.gxh4 Bh6 16.Bxh6 Rg8 17.Bg5! fxg5 18.h5+–; 14...Bxg2 was black's best move 15.Kxg2 e6 16.Qf3 Be7 17.d5!? cxd5 18.Rad1 Bb4 (18...f5 19.Bxb6 axb6 20.cxd5 Bxh4 21.dxe6 Qe8 22.exf7 Qxf7 23.Rxd8+ Rxd8 24.Rc1+ Kb8 25.Qf4+ Ka8 26.Qxh4+–) 19.Re2 +/-]
15.Bxh6 Rxh6 [15...Bxg2 was better 16.Bg7 Rxh4 17.gxh4 Bh3 18.Re3 Bg4 19.Qd3 Bf5 20.Qc3+– the rook is going to g3 to protect my kingside]
16.Rxe7!! [Black has to recapture, then I can take his bishop with check then fork his queen and rook with Nf5]
16…Qxe7 17.Bxh3+ Kb8 18.Nf5 Qe6 [18...Qf8 19.Nxh6 Qxh6 20.Bg2+– is also lost for black]
19.Nxh6 Qxh3 20.Qd2 Rh8 21.Qf4+ Ka8 22.Re1!+– [exploiting Black's back rank problems, and getting my last piece into the game. Black has no threats on the h-file, so I am just two pawns up with more active pieces]
22…a5 [22...Rxh6? 23.Re8+ Nc8 24.Qxh6+–]
23.Ng4 f5 [Black's last hope to create complications]
24.Qxf5 [24.Re5! was even stronger]
24…Rh5 25.Re8+ Ka7 26.Qxf7 [26.Qf4 f5 27.Qb8+ Ka6 28.Re7 was also winning]
26…Qxg4 27.Re7 [Black can't protect b7 so will be mated]
27…Nc8 [27...Qc8 28.Qxh5]
28.Rxb7+ Ka6 29.Rb8 Qd1+ [29...Nd6 30.Ra8+ Kb6 31.Qa7#]
One of the hardest things at a chess tournament, and indeed in life, is bouncing back after a series of defeats or disappointments. This takes a lot of psychological strength and deserves to be applauded.
Today, in my view, the two biggest heroines of the England squad were those who did just that. Vickie Sit had played well in the Under 16 Girls, but had been defeated in the first three rounds by significantly higher-rated opponents. A round 4 victory has now broken that cycle and she can play with more confidence again. In the Under 14 Girls section, Thivyaa Rahulan in some ways had an even harder task, having had a bye in round 3 after two defeats which meant she was up against other players on 1 point. She proved herself up to the task and emerged from the game with a draw.
Overall the fourth round was not such a good one for England in terms of points, with twice as many losses as wins. A particularly notable exception came from Richard Zhu, who won as Black against an opponent rated more than 400 Elo points higher. This puts him on 3½ points with a rating performance so far of over 2400, although, of course it also brings him a potentially even harder game in the next round. The other England players remaining unbeaten are Alex Golding on 3 and Haolin Zhao on 2½ points.
Sacha Brozel’s was another good win, his third in a row. Koby Kalavannan’s came at the end of a long but calm and controlled game. In fact, the typical length of the games was another feature of this round, with almost nobody from the England contingent emerging before 3 hours, perhaps a sign of how hard each team member is fighting over the board. With still two rounds to go before the rest day, stamina is going to become very important.
We saw Batumi at its best today with perfectly clear blue skies and a full day of sunshine and it was also our best day so far in the playing halls with a total score of 17.5 points. That’s 63% or in fact 65% for the purists given that, for the third day in a row, we had an England v England pairing (Amy v Katherine in the under 18 girls) and so a maximum score of 27.
Five of our players are right at the top of their respective tournaments – Akshaya is on the maximum 3 points in the under 14 girls, and Ezra, Richard, Alex and Anita are all on 2.5 points in the under 18, under 14, under 12 and under 10 girls respectively.
As ever there were some really tough draws today with 4 of our players facing opponents graded over 300 points above them (Cosima, Sacha, Josh and Richard) and particular congratulations to Richard and Sacha who won those games. We also saw great wins from Navi, Anantha and Girinath among the 13 wins of the day.
Today’s results really helped our overall performance with the team scoring 50% to date (or 52% taking into account our home team draws).
Round 4 is tomorrow and whilst writing, we are waiting for the draw to come up. Fingers crossed for another great day like today.
- Angela Higgs
After overnight rain the sun has made a welcome appearance and it has started to get warmer. The sea is gently lapping the shore unlike yesterday when the waves were the height of houses. The England team is accommodated at the Intourist Palace Hotel in spacious, well-appointed en-suite rooms. It is just a short walk to the main playing venue at the Sheraton Batumi Hotel; the Under 8’s are playing their games at the Intourist Palace Hotel. Both arenas provide excellent playing conditions with good temperature control. Carpeted rooms mean that it is nice and quiet during play. Everyone other than the players and arbiters are required to leave the room before play begins and so there are few distractions for the players.
There are 989 players from 45 countries registered for the championships with the largest delegations coming from Georgia (140), Russia (136) and Azerbaijan (96) and the smallest team from the Faroe Islands (1). England has a team of 28 players across the different age categories who are each being coached by one of the 7 England chess coaches – Lorin D’Costa, John Emms, Glenn Flear, Jovanka Houska, Andrew Martin, Neil McDonald and Gyula Meszaros. Each player has an hour with their coach before playing a new opponent and post-match analysis is done in the team room back at the hotel.
Round 2 has resulted in a much improved set of results in comparison with Round 1, producing 15 points from 28 matches. Amy Hoare and Koby Kalavannan were playing on the live boards today but both games were eventually lost after a valiant effort. Three players are now on 2/2 – Matthew Wadsworth, Akshaya Kalaiyalahan and Anita Somton with at least two of them scheduled to play on live boards in Round 3. A further 4 players are undefeated on 1.5/2 – Ezra Kirk, Richard Zhu, Alex Golding and Haolin Zhao. Zoe Varney has playersucceeded in drawing against two much higher rated players. There are 6 players yet to score and so they are working hard in their preparations for Round 3 and beyond – there are still a further 7 rounds to play.
- Mary Fraser
This was a tough first day for team Junior England at the European Youth Chess Championships – with a slightly disappointing overall score of 9.5. Novice and veteran players alike can take heart from Head of Delegation Jim Wadsworth’s counsel – ‘there are no easy matches at this level in chess’. And it’s undeniable – as coach Andrew Martin points out – we travel over 2000 miles to the eastern shores of the Black Sea, don’t speak the language, can’t drink the water, arrive lagged and dazed. Different if you’re a Turkish or Russian junior. With allowances made for missing bags, long delays, and arriving in the wee small hours of the morning (Josh Higgs, Catherine Shephard, Ezra Kirk are all still sleep-deprived) – it’s all about what happens on the board.
Triumphs first: Richard Zhu (U14) took a magnificent scalp – defeating Pole Kamil Koziol, ranked over 300 points higher. Zoe Varney (U16 G) and Josh Higgs ( U 14) both held superior forces (on paper, at least ) at bay. Russian Ayyyna Egorova struggled for a draw with Zoe and Josh held off both sleep and German Martin Kololli, again achieving half a point. Mention must be made of young Anita Somton (U10 G) – winning her first match against Armenian Nadezhda Khachatryan. Go Girl!
A Blue on Blue pairing is always frustrating – do we have to travel this far to play at home? – but, alas, it’s unavoidable. The match between Matthew Wadsworth and Theo Slade (U 14) went as the ranking would suggest, the formidable Matthew chalking up his first win. With luck, civil wars over the remaining eight rounds will be kept to a minimum. Whoever said chess wasn’t physical (HMG’s Department of Media, Culture and Sport?) should try matching Charlie McLaren , Sacha Brozel or Alex Golding (all U12) for sheer stamina: they notched up nearly fourteen hours of match-play between them on Day 1. Charlie and Alex battling to wrench half a point from – respectively – Georgian Giga Goderdzishvili and Azeri Muhammed Ismayilov. By 8pm, Sacha finally succumbed to the higher-ranked Edoardo di Benedietto. And the same was true for James Moreby against his far-outranking Russian opponent. Koby Kalavannan compensated in part for those losses in the section with an impressive win over home-boy Mate Todashvilli.
With eight long matches to go, and weather as variable as England international football , the parents are starting to eye one of the dozen-so casinos in town — but, far safer to bet on this squad of talented and resourceful juniors and their coaches.
- Mark Brozel