Chris Bak’s Doncaster Congress Part I

Thanks to Chris Bak who describes his adventures at the recent Doncaster Congress. Click to read Part II here

Greetings, chess players of Yorkshire (and beyond)! Like many British chess players, I enjoy a good old weekend chess congress. Over the past two years I have played in many majors. My best score at a major is 3.5/5, a score I have achieved on many occasions. I recently participated in the Doncaster Congress, which took place from February 27th to March 1st. I was starting the tournament on a fairly lengthy undefeated streak, and I felt that my play had improved enough over recent months to surpass my personal best score, if not outright win the Major. In other words, I was very confident. My tournament experience turned out to be very dramatic, with several exciting games. Most importantly, I had a great time, so I decided to present my first Doncaster experience right here! Let’s get straight to the action.

Round 1

My first round opponent was Dean Hartley, someone I had faced at two previous congresses. Our score is 1-1, but this would be the first time that Dean had the white pieces.

Round 2

Following that victory, I arrived to the venue on Saturday morning to find myself paired against one of the top seeds: Richard Webster. We had not met before.

Round 3

The frontrunners were becoming established after two rounds. If I recall correctly, there were five players other than myself on full marks. Among those was my next opponent, Ian Barwick. Ian and I have some history. Ian won the Bradford Major last September with an admirable score of 4.5/5. I was the only player to take half a point from him, although I had to grovel for the draw. No doubt he is a force to be reckoned with in any congress Major.

Immediately after the game, I was under the impression that the game was closer to a draw than a black win. The analysis reveals otherwise, but I would have been satisfied with my performance even if I had known about my missed opportunities at the time. Two of the other two-pointers drew their game, but the other clash at the top did not end peacefully. Therefore, heading into the final game there was a sole leader on 3/3. With two rounds to go, anything could happen. Stay tuned for the second and final part of my Doncaster experience!

Links:

Part II 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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18 Responses to “Chris Bak’s Doncaster Congress Part I”

  1. Andy Bak

    Mar 05. 2015

    I think in the first game, your plan of shoving your Kside pawns down the board is good. Whenever you’re an exchange up, you need to open things up for your rooks otherwise your material advantage doesn’t mean anything.

    Second game – when you play an opening as Black, I guess it’s easier to spot where they go wrong when you play the White side of it! This was a real positional crush.

    Third game – a shame you missed …g3 in the rook and pawn ending, although really your opponent ought to have just kept his rook defending the g2 pawn.

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin Carpenter

      Mar 05. 2015

      Also really rather unpleasant to just grovel with the rook on the second rank for ever though.

      It doesn’t look at all fun round as early as move 37/8 for white really. Passive rook, crippled kingside etc. Might ultimately draw but you know you’ll suffer first!

      Nice report :)

      Reply to this comment
    • Chris Bak

      Mar 05. 2015

      I am not convinced the kingside pawn storm is the correct plan in the first game. Objectively I’m sure it’s fine, but from a practical standpoint it gives white far more than he deserves further down the line.

      I think the variation starting 22..Rd6 is a significantly better way to play. I described the reasons in an annotation before that move, but it got lost in translation. I’ll paraphase:

      Black should aim to attack with his pieces rather than his pawns. In this way, the threats come much faster, not giving white time to arrange counterplay or mobilise his pieces. In addition, keeping the pawns at home creates no points of entry for white further down the line. Also note how quickly the rooks enter the game in that variation!

      Reply to this comment
      • Martin Carpenter

        Mar 05. 2015

        Might be true, not sure :) The play in the variation does look rather cooperative from white.

        Especially going Nd2 x c4 opening the d file definitely doesn’t seem so great when a rook arrives on d3!

        I suspect its slightly tricky to keep total control with a5,a6 coming. Rd6 intending to take a king walk to the kingside might actually be an plausible option?! Rather hard for white to even dent black’s centre and opening Q-side lines only helps the rooks once the king isn’t there.

        Reply to this comment
        • Chris Bak

          Mar 05. 2015

          The variation was the engine’s top line, but I didn’t leave it on for very long. Still, it’s hard to see what white is doing if he doesn’t go for moves like Nxc4 and e4. Those moves at least to some degree improve his position (trading a weak knight for a strong one, activating the bishop). If white just sits there, or even if he tries shunting the a-pawn, black could start provoking weaknesses with moves like Rg6 and Qg5. But I see your point, it may be one of those positions where the best way to play is to sit tight.

          Reply to this comment
          • Martin Carpenter

            Mar 06. 2015

            Well white can’t quite sit tight, but opening the d file maybe isn’t the best sort of ‘action’ to aim for :) Possible, of course, that the knight on c4 does something quite horrible if not removed!

  2. Chris Bak

    Mar 05. 2015

    It seems that the PGN viewer used here fails to print annotations occurring before moves. Hence some of the notes in the variations are incomplete and may appear a little strange. Readers will have to use their imagination, I guess.

    Reply to this comment
  3. James Carpenter

    Mar 05. 2015

    Well, once you get e5 in in those Guimard positions black is just very comfortable, maybe even slightly better, and Bg5 really just loses half a tempo ‘forcing’ black to redeploy his queen. Very temtping to just go 10. 0-0 and e5 as a pawn sac.

    Another nice pair of games, exploiting the mistakes of the opposition efficiently.

    Reply to this comment
  4. James Carpenter

    Mar 05. 2015

    In fact, play the queen to g6 and the bishop is seriously loose on g5, he might have to play Bd3 but then e5 is even more effective :).

    Reply to this comment
  5. Eric Gardiner

    Mar 05. 2015

    Sorry, no time to comment on the games at the moment but I will look at them in more detail as a French player myself. The analyses do look fairly detailed – well done to Chris for both the game results and the analyses! I did want to add though that you’d better post Part II very soon before the results are uploaded to Chessnuts (Open results are already there) and the dramatic build-up is spoilt :) !

    Reply to this comment
    • Chris Bak

      Mar 05. 2015

      I doubt I will be able to beat Chessnuts in the results-posting race. If you wish to experience the full drama of my Doncaster Major, I suppose you’ll have to resist checking Chessnuts!

      Reply to this comment
      • Matt

        Mar 06. 2015

        I was about to do exactly the same thing Eric, go straight onto Chessnuts and see the final outcome… I will however remain patient as I’m looking forward to seeing the final two games.

        When you’re in the race for 1st place, I find it to be a completely different kind of chess especially round 4 and 5 of a congress. The Mark Hebden’s of this world have mastered the fine Art of closing out a congress in such an elegant, almost mesmerising way. Part of my review of his games (*wink*) was looking not only at his repertoire, but also his choices in latter stages of an event, it is always worth considering your opponents goals going into a game, I find this side of chess to be the most fascinating.

        I see some real quality in your play Chris, it isn’t any surprise that you’re winning games comfortably against players of a similar grade. I would say it is prime time to push yourself and enter an Open, your style certainly lends itself well when facing much higher rated opposition. I can say with some certainty, nobody likes seeing their opponent confidently throwing the kitchen sink at them without any fear of losing.

        Keep it up!

        Reply to this comment
  6. Chris Bak

    Mar 06. 2015

    I’m curious; how would you describe my style? I’ve never been able to get a full grasp on it myself. On the positional-tactical spectrum, I’m certainly not a pure hacker, but neither am I a player who sticks to strategical maneuvering all the time. My games don’t tend to fit a particular pattern, just from this article alone there’s one crazy attacking game and two quiet maneuvering games. I’d be very interested to hear your perspective on my playing style.

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin Carpenter

      Mar 06. 2015

      Its always looked like a sensibly classical sort of style to me, but I’ve not seen that many games :)

      Definitely a solid sort of basis for getting stronger.

      Reply to this comment
  7. Martin Carpenter

    Mar 06. 2015

    Actually as a general note, people do tend to get quite simplistic about style, but there really aren’t many players at all you can call really lopsided attacking/positional players.

    A few club players genuinely are very lopsided of course, but not many and less once you get past a certain strength, because different positions do fundamentally need handling differently :)

    The only people I’d think to actually have a decent handle on their style are the York A players who I’ve seen play 50+ games by now…..

    That’s about nuances though really. And no I’m not dissecting them here for obvious reasons!

    My 4NCL games so far aren’t a bad example. You can get a superficial impression of outright tactics from them but the 5 games (half) vs similar strength/slightly stronger opposition are much more like ‘real’ games of chess.

    Of course anyone analysing my games from there vs say the York evening league this year would come to quite different conclusions!

    Reply to this comment

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  1. Chris Bak's Doncaster Congress Part II - Yorkshire Chess | Yorkshire Chess - March 10, 2015

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

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