Generation Chess International Tournament
Round Nine


What a final! The Generation Chess International ended with a norm on the line a befitting conclusion which typified the fighting spirit seen in the duration of the tournament. Krush went into the round needing a win over Muhammad to gain her 2nd GM norm and everyone knew it would be a fight to the finish.  The game lasted 102 moves and was an roller-coaster ride throughout and was perhaps followed by thousands at the Internet Chess Club and Chess.FM. Muhammad was able to hold Krush and derail her chances at a GM norm. However the fighting spirit displayed in this game (and also Paschall-Christiansen) will perhaps become an example of what these "drawless" tournaments should be.

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Bluvshtein-Akobian, 0-1. There are not many who will doubt that IM Varuzhan Akobian will be the next U.S. player to earn the Grandmaster title. After a poor start, he showed his deep chess understanding particularly in games against Christiansen (where he was swindled), Simutowe, Muhammad, and this game against Bluvshtein.

This game started off with Akobian adopting his "pet" French against Bluvshtein's 1.e4. There was nothing spectacular about the opening and after move 28, the game descended into an equal knight vs. bishop ending with a symmetrical pawn structure.  Akobian was able to create slight imbalances in which his bishop and pawns exerted control and restricted the knight's mobility. After 41Bb2, white played 42.b4+? This move was apparently designed to cut off the king's path to the queenside and render the extra pawn useless. However, Akobian began working on both sides of the board with his advanced king and fleet-footed bishop the white knight and king clumsily attempted to hold both sectors.

There wouldn't be another pawn move for another 30 moves as pieces on the board seemed to be engaged in an endless dance of "board shuffle."  Akobian decided to break the rhythm with 73b3! (diagram) and after 74.Nxb3 (74.axb3 Kb4 wins), his king sprinted toward the kingside and created a majority (with 83f3 and 83Kxf3). Meanwhile, the black bishop zipped around the board harassing the knight while keeping the passed a-pawn at bay. It was all action! When the black king reached the kingside, it escorted the passed f-pawn toward the queening square while the white king looked on helplessly (at the d2 square) for 10 moves. The black bishop, clearly the star of the game, sacrificed himself in the end so that the lowly pawn would queen. Great endgame certainly the makings of a medieval movie. Good technique by the future GM!

Akobian played 73b3! Making a path for the king to invade the kingside.

Akobian played 73b3! Making a path for the king to invade the kingside.

Muhammad-Krush, -. The game of the round. With a norm on the line, this game would be the one of great interest. Emotions were high and tension was so thick at the Internet Chess Club that you could cut it with a knife. Many were rooting for Krush to close out the tournament with a win to earn her 2nd GM norm. The two sat down, shook hands and the fight began!

Krush chose the Grunfeld as her weapon of choice, but did not get the position she was looking for as Muhammad's opening play was solid. After 10Nd5, everyone was shocked by Muhammad's 11.Ba5!? which was perhaps designed to stop c5, attack the c7-square and provoke a light-square weakness with b6. The game reached another cruical stage at 18.e4 Nc7 19.dxc5 bxc5 20.Qe2.  There were a lot of critics of Muhammad's 21.a3!? move and after 21Nd4 22.Nxd4 Bxd4 23.Bc3 e5, black seemed very comfortable.

Another story emerged after 24.Kh1 Kh8 both sides prepared for impending pawn breaks. However, the commentators  (including GM Maurice Ashley) agreed that 24 Kg7 may have been better for black. As GM Ashley heard ambulances sirens blaring in the background, he quipped that they may have been headed to the Marshall Chess Club because "someone's going to get hurt in this game."

Almost on cue, the game now exploded in a series of violent moves after 25f5!? 26.Bh6? GM Ashley who called into Chess.FM found this move puzzling and stated that any Grandmaster would routinely sack the exchange and leave the juggernaut bishop at d4 to dominate the game. In fact, he pointed out that 26Bxe4! won on the spot! For example, 26Bxe4! 27.Bxf8 Qc6! threatening 28Bxc2,  28Bxg2+ and 28Rxf8.

Groans and wails could be heard when Krush played 26Rf6? Muhammad quickly brought the game level with 27.f3 f4 28.Rcd1. Perhaps Krush saw she missed a win and she made a series of bad moves putting her on the brink of losing! Muhammad amazingly had fought back and offered the prospects of a grueling endgame with 33.Qg5 Bf6 34.Qf4. Krush declined with 34Qe7 and after 37.Bxg7+ Qxg7 Muhammad could've turned the tables with
38.Bf7! On 38.Bf7! Black would be forced to play 38g5 (38Bc8 38.Bd5! Ra7 39.Rb8; 37Ba6 38.Rb8+; 37Bc6 38.Rb8+) 39.Qc7! winning.









Game start 5 back 1 back 1 forward 5 forward Game end flip board autoplay

Move

The game continued with Muhammad's 38.Bd5 and a very tough endgame arose where white was slightly worse, but should be able to hold the position. However, it is not known what effect the emotional energy combined with nine 50-move games have had on these two players. Eric Schiller dismissed mental fatigue as a factor, but certainly these two strong players would not miss such opportunities (46Ra8! instead of 46.Re8).

After 53Qxh4, Fritz 8 gives this as a good position for black after 54.Kf1 Rb5! This line basically transposed into the game where major pieces traded and only pawns remained. After 67.Kxh2, both sides got a new queen and after a few cursory checks, the kings started to take up attacking positions. The reality was that even a pawn up, Krush could not force a win. After 74g5 75.Qg4+ Qxg4 76.fxg4+ Kg6, the game went on another 25 moves to prove that the black king could not win the opposition, or force the white king to give way.

Watching the last 25 moves is quite humorous, but also instructive (hold down on the forward arrow on keyboard). When Krush realized that Muhammad wasn't going to commit an error, a draw was agreed upon. Krush would JUST miss her GM norm but what a game!!

Paschall-Christiansen, -. Paschall chose the Reti opening which in fact resembled something like an Alekhine reversed. Nevertheless, there was nothing happening in the opening or middlegame, so a single rook ending ensued after 30 Rxd4 (Diagram #1). It is known that one must keep active rooks in the endgame and avoid passivity  even at the cost of a pawn. With 20 moves to go before a draw could be offered, Paschall was the first to take a risk. This brought amazement because the spectators felt that a Paschall would be happy to end with a draw.

Paschall sacrificed a pawn (with check!) to advance the king with 46.g5!? f5 47.Rd7+!? Kf8 48.Rd6 Kf7 49. Rf6+ Kg7 50. Rc6!? Rxb3+ (Diagram #2). He then sacrificed another pawn and spectators realized that Paschall was going for the win!! After 55.Ke6 (Diagram #3), his king eased toward black's g6 pawn while creating mating threats against the king. The commentators gave 55Re4+ 56.Kf6 f4 57.Rc8+ Re8 58.Rc6=. The game would go no further and black decided to bail out an allow a three-fold repetition with 55Rd4 56.Rc8+ Kg7+ 57.Rc7+ etc.

The interesting thing about this game is that Paschall, who was having a tough tournament, had the courage to go all-out for a win against a formidable opponent. That shows a bit of his character as a chess player and also his fighting spirit.  There were naysayers at the ICC who said Paschall was overmatched, but the reality is simply that he has had better tournaments and will be back in better form.

Diagram #1 (after 30.Rxd4) Diagram #2 (after 50.Rxb3+) Diagram #3 (after 55.Ke6)

Diagram #1
(after 30.Rxd4)

Diagram #2
(after 50Rxb3+)

Diagram #3
(after 55.Ke6)

Yudasin-Simutowe, -. This was an interesting matchup as the two have played on two other occassions with Simutowe ahead 1-. This point was made to Chess. FM and the  point was ignored, but the result of this game proved that perhaps Yudasin's memory of losing the last encounter (and nearly losing the other) played a role in his decision to sue for peace. Yudasin had earlier complained about his poor play. Yudasin repeated the same setup as in the last encounter, but Simutowe chose a fianchetto system. The middlegame was very sharp as white's pieces probed weaknesses in the black camp, but being a pawn down, Yudasin chose not to want to face a5 and repeated moves on move 29. GM Ashley, who was watching the game on the ICC, was very careful about addressing this 29-move draw and mentioned that there are issues that need to be worked out in these "drawless" tournaments.

Perelshteyn-Ehlvest 0-1.
This game was an exciting Dragon in which black was afforded every strategic benefit that a Dragon player could want. White never got the typical kingside pawn storm going and basically defended the entire game. Spectators questioned 12.0-0-0 as Ehlvest placed heavy artillery on the a-, b-, and c-files and applied immense pressure on the king. After 21Nf4! Ehlvest later exchanged bishops with 24Bd4! 25.Qxd4 Rxa5 and pinned the a4 bishop on a useless diagonal after 26.b3 was forced.

The typical Dragon pawn structure was in full effect; in addition, white's glaring queenside weaknesses  came into effect after 32Nc5! The really amazing thing about the position is how defenseless white was against all the mating threats surrounding the king. The white bishop on a4 could not move, so in effect, it was a pawn. In the final position, black  threatens to win with 41Nxa4 and there's nothing white can do about it as the queen has to stay close to the rook. Textbook example of how initiative is so important. Nice effort by Ehlvest!

Cross Table
Round Nine Games (playable and downloadable)
All Games (PGN download)

Final Standings:
Perelshteyn, 6; Christiansen, Ehlvest,  Krush, 5;  Yudasin, 5; Akobian, Simutowe, 4; Bluvshtein, 3; Muhammad, 2; Paschall, 2.

Drum Reports

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