Chris Bak’s Doncaster Congress Part II

Chris Bak concludes his report from the Doncaster Congress. Click to read Part I here

Round 4

Welcome to the second and final part of my Doncaster experience! A quick recap of the current state of affairs: after the first three rounds, only one player had won all three games. He was tailed by five or six bloodthirsty two-and-a-half pointers. We returned to Doncaster on Sunday morning. I checked the draw to discover that I was fortunate enough to get a crack against the leader, Dragoljub Sudar.

I’ll be the first to say that I didn’t deserve to win that game. Dragoljub had a rough opening, but he recovered well and stirred the pot enough to create a winning attack. I’m still flabbergasted by how all the pieces (literally) fell into place on the moves leading up to the time control. The e6 pawn cutting off black’s pieces from reaching a future passed g-pawn, and white allowing material to be lost with 37. Bh3 to reach the winning position. Not even Magnus Carlsen could have planned that in advance!

Round 5

Luck or otherwise, I’ll take whatever the chess board gives me. I headed into the final round at the front of the pack with 3.5/4. With me were two others: Ian Barwick, who won his fourth round game in much more convincing fashion than I did; and Graham Ashcroft, who was my opponent in the final round.

The other critical game in terms of the tournament standings was Ian Barwick (3.5) against Richard Hanscombe (3). The players ended up with a position eerily similar to that of my first round game: queen, rook and king against queen, bishop, and king, with a few pawns on the board. Ian was the player an exchange down, but they agreed to a draw. I didn’t see the reason why, but it’s likely neither player could be bothered playing it out. Richard probably saw my game wasn’t going to end in a draw due to my horrendous position and decided it wasn’t worth investing energy in trying to win. Perhaps my last round game was karma returning the favour for the events of my previous game. In any event, I make no excuses: Graham Ashcroft was the better player and fully deserved to win the Major outright. Well done, Graham!

Despite a near perfect start, I left Doncaster Congress without improving my personal best score in a Major. No doubt a disappointing finish, but overall I cannot be displeased with my tournament performance. However, I did not come out empty-handed. A few days later I received a cheque in the post for an astonishing £6.25! I must have tied with three other people for one of the grading prizes. I hope that my games and analysis were instructive, or at the very least entertaining. Thanks for reading!

Links:

Part I of Chris Bak’s report
Chessnuts Crosstables


Yorkshire Chess would like to personally thank all our guest writers for their wonderful contributions. If you would like to publish your article on Yorkshire Chess please see our guest post page: link

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15 Responses to “Chris Bak’s Doncaster Congress Part II”

  1. Martin Carpenter

    Mar 10. 2015

    Dunno, I think that ending idea deserved to win the round 4 game :)

    Even the exchange down ending isn’t anything like a clear black win – two connected passed pawns and the bishop pair is always going to be really dangerous.

    The final round game does look very like exhaustion! All been there. You just start missing everything. Actually the stuff you missed in round 4 might well have had a tiredness element too.

    A collection of my brothers Sunday morning congress games would make for deeply gruesome reading.

    Reply to this comment
    • Chris Bak

      Mar 10. 2015

      Yes, some of my errors in the fourth round could have been attributed to fatigue. However, I didn’t consciously start feeling tired until midway through the fifth round. Of course the Sunday games are always the most difficult, but all the other players are in the same boat, so it’s a level playing field.

      Reply to this comment
    • Andy Bak

      Mar 11. 2015

      Exchange-down endgames can offer very good drawing chances for the defender, particularly if you’re active like you were in the game with your passed pawns.

      Round 5 games at the top of the pile are typically between people in form, so one wrong slip will usually be curtains as the other guy is going to be ready to exploit you!

      Reply to this comment
  2. James Carpenter

    Mar 11. 2015

    You know, I don’t agree with Stockfish’s opinion about Qh7, I’d hate to try to crack its final analysis position myself! What he played looks far better to me, he just slipped up in a complicated ending.

    Hanging on under that kind of pressure is a skill in itself, I wouldn’t call the win really undeserved. Also f5 seems like a typical attempt to open lines and hack.

    Second game does look like fatugue, but also those symmettrical english positions really can be quite hard to play, because white’s position looks quite harmless but you can suddenly find he’s grabbed lots of space, and mostly it’s all long term maneuvring.

    Reply to this comment
    • Chris Bak

      Mar 11. 2015

      Looking at the lines again, I think Qh7 is far stronger from a human perspective than Qe5. Black threatens checkmate on h2 while maintaining the Bxd3 threat. If white doesn’t go for the ludicrous queen sacrifice (which I don’t think is that great anyway and would never be played in a human game), he’s losing at least an exchange. More important is that black keeps the queens on the board which gives him much greater winning chances than a somewhat murky exchange-up endgame.

      Of course, Qe5 also looks like a knockout: it’s very hard to see in advance that two moves later black is forced to go into an endgame after 27. cxd4.

      Actually, I’ve just remembered a thought I had during the game: I thought black was going to go for 26..Rxh2+ 27. Qxh2 Rh8 28. Qxh8+ Qxh8+ 29. Kg2 Be5 and I probably would have resigned right there. Two raging bishops and a queen against my open king, two bishops, and two rooks that aren’t playing at all.

      Reply to this comment
      • Chris Bak

        Mar 11. 2015

        I now realise that 28. Bh4 appears to refute the line I just posted. That is something I did not see during the game!

        Reply to this comment
      • Martin Carpenter

        Mar 11. 2015

        That Q sacrifice isn’t half as ludricous as it looks :) If white wasn’t dropping a further exchange on f1 – quite easy to miss in calculation of course – he’d likely be entirely fine.

        Even as it is, B&B&P vs Q is far from a totally clear cut material balance. Suspect it ‘must’ win here, but it wouldn’t be easy with the d4 bishop that well established.

        Swap rooks and win with the passed Q side pawn I suppose.

        Reply to this comment
        • James Carpenter

          Mar 11. 2015

          It is Q vs. 2B isn’t it, I’d thought it was R & B :) . I can still see the kingside pawns running though, especially in a time scramble. The exact consequences of both lines also very hard to see at the board!

          Reply to this comment
          • Chris Bak

            Mar 11. 2015

            I should have continued Stockfish’s line a bit further: if I recall correctly, black does best to not take the exchange but instead to play 30…Bxf3+ 31. Rxf3 Qe4 followed by Rf8 and trading a pair of rooks. But perhaps I dismissed the queen sacrifice too quickly as pretty easily losing, even R+B against Q might give white decent chances at a fortress with that monster bishop on d4.

            Taking a step back, I’d say seeing the queen sacrifice in the first place is extremely difficult, never mind evaluating it over the board!

          • Martin Carpenter

            Mar 11. 2015

            (Chris’ post is too deep in to reply to ;))

            Well the idea of the Q sac itself isn’t that impossible to see, but I have to agree that the way the computer finds to set it up is entirely counter intuitive! Bf4+ to provoke e5 and then leave the bishop en prise for a move just so it can go Bxe5 x h8 a move later?!

            Bxf3 instead of Bxf1 does seem to pick up the g pawn, so it might make sense. Black would be relying on a queenside passed pawn to win the game, so I’m not sure how easy it’d prove in practice.

  3. Peter Redmond

    Mar 11. 2015

    I found that Sundays are particularly hard days when playing weekend tournaments. I like Scarborough in the Autumn but found that leaving the comfort of the B&B Sunday morning had me wandering about the venue like some nomad and it seriously affected my play.

    Sundays can be wonderful days for picking up points from opponents who are more concerned with getting home early because they aren’t leading the pack.

    In 2013 for my 3rd Scarborough major, I decided to take Friday and Monday off work, commute to the event during Friday morning and stay in accommodation Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Being able to get up Sunday morning not rushing around to clear the room and being able to pop back during lunchtime for a shower and lay on the bed for an hour made all the difference to me and I would recommend this idea to anyone who finds ‘weekenders’ tiring. An alternative is to ask for a Friday night bye, and turn up for 2 nights accommodation on Saturday and Sunday.

    Finally, its nice to get up on a Monday morning, have a hearty breakfast and drive home in the daylight knowing that you have the day to chill out.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Tim Hilton

    Mar 11. 2015

    Really enjoyed playing through the games and hearing your thoughts and opinions, thanks for taking the time to do this and post it online!

    Reply to this comment

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