Sunday, August 06, 2017

Stephen Rush at the British Championship

This year the 2017 British Championship Congress was held in Llandudno, a seaside town in North Wales and Ulster Champion Stephen Rush took up his entitlement to compete in the main Championship, which featured 13 Grandmasters and many other titled players. After today's final round Stephen finished with 3 points from his 9 games. His performance rating was 2025, well above his UCU rating of 1844. His detailed results were:
Round Opponent            Rating Result
1     Peter M. Gayson      2160  1
2     FM David Zakarian    2360  0
3     Conor E. Murphy      2154  0
4     WFM Sarah N. Longson 2074  1
5     IM Jonathan Grant    2187  0
6     Paul Gm Lam          2111  ½
7     WGM Sheila Jackson   2125  0
8     Shabir Okhai         2111  ½
9     Aditya Verma         2071  0
I hope to put up more posts about the British Championships but for now, here is Stephen's victory from Round 1 with his own notes:
[Event "ECF-ch"] [Site "Llandudno"] [Date "2017.07.29"] [Round "1"] [White "Gayson, Peter M"] [Black "Rush, Stephen"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A00"] [WhiteElo "2160"] [Annotator "Rush"] [PlyCount "102"] [EventDate "2017.07.29"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "WLS"] 1. e4 $6 {My opponent pushes an undefended pawn in front of his king.} e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 $6 {The most passive of all white's options, the Tarrasch variation, extremely drawish.} c5 {Normal French break achieved on move 3, I should already have equality.} 4. Ngf3 cxd4 5. exd5 Qxd5 6. Bc4 Qd6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Nb3 Nc6 9. Nbxd4 Nxd4 10. Nxd4 {All of this happens in 90+% of Tarrasch games; it's the only way for white to comfortably regain the pawn.} a6 11. a4 { New to me but not to theory, white refuses to have his pieces budged; most common is Bb3; Re1 is also common with the same setup as Bb3 in mind.} Qc7 12. b3 Bd6 13. h3 O-O {I debated for some time between a setup with e5 and the game continuation before eventually concluding that for him to make any progress he will have to voluntarily remove his knight to unblock his bishop and if I can avoid all his tactics, which I believe I can, it should leave him planless while I can still make improving moves. His LSB stares at granite, his DSB stares at his knight. The computer evaluates both e5 and my move at 0. 00. When I looked it over with the computer and database both of our next few moves were normal.} 14. Bb2 b6 15. Qe2 Bb7 16. Rad1 Rfe8 {I want to place my knight on d5 and from there land on f4 but first I must block the sac on e6.} 17. Rfe1 h6 {Again I want to play Nd5 but I have no good reply to Nf5.} 18. Qd3 {It was now or never for white to strike, he cannot improve further. I had expected a sacrifice his knight on e6 followed by taking my knight with his DSB but he correctly restrained himself} Nd5 {I thought the longest before this move ensuring no discoveries could harm me; I suspect he had relied on one as he seemed surprised to see the move on the board, but there is nothing.} 19. Bxd5 {My opponent cannot tolerate this knight for long, but he grimaced as he made the move; indeed, my unopposed LSB is now a monster. At this point I have around 55 minutes and he has less than 7.} Bxd5 20. c4 Bb7 21. Qc3 Bf8 { My first inaccuracy of the game; better was Bh2+ and then Be5 but I lazily feared some nebulous tactic with an exchange sac in the future. I should have simply calculated, the computer shows there is nothing to fear.} 22. Nf3 Qc6 { I didn't expect this move was the best and it isn't, though I don't recall what the computer recommended; however with his time pressure I liked the hanging sword of the threat and the pinning of his knight.} 23. Rd4 {I assumed the purpose of this move was to swing to g4. I calculated that that was not to be feared and allowed it, but he went elsewhere anyway.} e5 24. Rd5 f6 { The structure I was going to build on Rg4 anyway, and it is still the best move; my advantage is now about .75.} 25. Red1 Qe6 26. R5d2 {Here at about 5 minutes to the time control at move 40 he offered a draw, which I declined, still at around 55 minutes myself and confident in my position.} a5 {Fixing the pawn weakness with tempo.} 27. Re2 Rad8 28. Rxd8 Rxd8 29. Rd2 Rxd2 30. Qxd2 {Tempting me to take his knight and possibly the h-pawn, but I think this leaves too many drawing motifs on my light squares.} Bc5 31. Ne1 {This is actually the computer's #1 move, my advantage is around 3.00 now.} Qf5 32. Qe2 Qb1 33. Kh2 e4 34. g3 e3 35. fxe3 Qe4 36. Ng2 Bxe3 37. Bc3 Qc6 $4 {Yup, missed the queen win somehow.} 38. Bd2 {But I saw a forced win from here to the end.} Bxd2 39. Qxd2 Kf7 $1 {The key move; this one step makes the K+P ending winning and he must take a move to free his pieces.} 40. g4 Qxg2+ 41. Qxg2 Bxg2 42. Kxg2 Ke6 43. Kf3 Kd6 44. Ke4 Kc5 45. Kd3 Kb4 46. Kc2 g6 47. h4 h5 48. gxh5 gxh5 49. Kb2 f5 50. Kc2 f4 51. Kd3 Kxb3 0-1

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