23 March 2014

NC 2014 Final Round: A Matter of Destiny

I believe in destiny, not necessarily in every detail of our life, but in relation to key events or happenings. Destiny sets the time and place. If it is ours, nobody can take it away no matter what opposing forces try. If it is not ours, we cannot get it despite our best efforts.

So I accept both good things and seemingly undesirable things as blessings and with good grace internally. All these do not mean we do not put in our best efforts to get the things we desire. But just that we make the efforts with the mindset that 'man proposes, God disposes'.

So it is looking at the happenings with Yit San's respective final round games in the 2013 & 2014 National Closed events. How he inexplicably missed a 3-move mate in the final position in 2013 has been documented elsewhere. The 2014 game took a different turn.

Going into the final round 9, the pairings were as follows:

12IMLiew Chee-Meng Jimmy22256    -    7Fong Yit San21673
214Erowan Masrin19916-Subramaniam Sumant20686
31NMChuah Jin Hai Jonathan2273-6Nayan Ahmad Fadzil20945
412Ismail Ahmad20096-Shaik Ali Nor Ilhamuddin202311
515Ong Way Justin1973-Asan Jeppy Tewelu160551

Now, the big prize is a shot at a place in Malaysia's 2014 Olympiad team for the top 3 finishers.

Yit San is already assured of a Master's slot by virtue of being in the current National Squad. Thus he is playing for the Championship and needs a win to be certain. If Yit San draws, and Sumant wins, Sumant gets the Championship.

All the other 8 players in the top 5 boards were probably playing for a top 3 or a tie for 3rd place. Jimmy needs to win to be assured of at least a tie for the top 3 places while a draw may not be sufficient depending on how other results go. And a loss will definitely not be enough for even a tie for 3rd place.

The Game:
The Veresov Opening has long been associated with Jimmy Liew in Malaysian chess circles, since Jimmy used that opening in his famous win over GM Eugenio Torre back in 1986. The then 28-year old IM Jimmy Liew was at his peak having achieved his IM title shortly before. GM Torre was still Asia's top player and among the world's top players. This game was annotated in a Chesscafe article by GM Nigel Davies some years back [link].  Old-timers may also recall that Jimmy himself analysed this game for 'Majalah Catur' back in 1994.

It was good to see IM Jimmy using this opening again 28 years later. Yit San is not a young Torre but then Jimmy is no longer 28 years old.

[Event "National Closed 2014"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.03.16"] [Round "9"] [White "IM Jimmy Liew"] [Black "Fong Yit San"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D01"] [WhiteElo ""] [BlackElo ""] [PlyCount "146"] [SourceDate "2012.03.14"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Bg5 Ne4 4. Nxe4 dxe4 5. c3 h6 6. Bh4 Bf5 7. Qb3 Qc8 8. e3 Nd7 9. h3 e6 10. g4 Bg6 11. Bg2 Bd6 12. Ne2 O-O 13. Ng3 Bxg3 14. Bxg3 c5 15. Bd6 Rd8 16. Be7 Re8 17. Bxc5 Nxc5 18. dxc5 Qxc5 19. O-O-O b6 20. Rd4 Red8 21. Rhd1 Rxd4 22. Rxd4 Qc7 23. Qd1 Rc8 24. Bxe4 {White wins a pawn.} Bxe4 25. Rxe4 Rd8 26. Rd4 Rxd4 {A big decision for White. Capture with Q or pawn?} 27. exd4 Qc4 28. a3 {As compensation for the lost pawn, Black has the more active queen which he now uses to fix the pawn structure.} a5 29. Qf3 a4 30. Qa8+ Kh7 31. Qe4+ g6 32. Qf3 Kg7 33. h4 g5 34. h5 b5 35. Qe3 Kg8 36. Kc2 Qb3+ 37. Kd3 Qd5 38. Qd2 Kg7 39. Kc2 Qb3+ 40. Kd3 Qd5 41. Qe2 Qc4+ 42. Ke3 Qd5 43. f3 {With the last few moves, Black has neutralised White's extra pawn which is now represented by the backward b2 pawn. Black has constructed a fortress and is in no real danger of losing.} Qb3 44. Kf2 Kg8 45. Kg3 Qd5 46. Qe5 Qc4 47. Kf2 Qb3 48. Qe2 Kf8 49. Kg3 Kg8 50. Kg2 Qd5 51. Kg3 Qb3 {A critical moment. It is past 12.30 pm, close to 4 hours into the game. It is the final round of an exhausting 9-round 5-day tournament. And probably Jimmy still thinks that he needs a win to get at least a tie for top 3. Jimmy's clock shows less 10 minutes and he is one pawn up. Now what would you do in Jimmy's place. Would you settle for a draw by repeating moves? Or would you open up the position and try for a win with its inherent risks.} 52. f4 {Jimmy tries for the win. Opening up the position allows Black the additional possibility of drawing by perpetual check using the protected g5 and d5 squares. But there is no other way to progress the position.} gxf4+ 53. Kxf4 Qd5 54. Qe3 {A critical move. Here was the last chance for Jimmy to accept the draw. With Qe3, White allows the Black Q into g2 and offers the sacrifice of the b2 pawn.} Qg2 55. Qf3 {Setting up the Q-check on a8. Exchanging Qs loses the game for Black. Thus Black is forced to take the b-pawn.} Qxb2 56. Ke5 Qxa3 57. g5 {Oops!! Did White missed Qf8 in response to Kf6 followed by Qa8+? A calculation flaw in the 5-move combination.} hxg5 58. Kf6 Qf8 59. Kxg5 Qg7+ 60. Kh4 f5 {White is now lost as the passed a-pawn wins the day.} 61. Qa8+ Kh7 62. Kh3 Qg4+ 63. Kh2 Qxh5+ 64. Kg1 Qg4+ 65. Kf1 Qf4+ 66. Kg1 Qe3+ 67. Kf1 Qd3+ 68. Kg1 Qxc3 69. Qb7+ Kg6 70. Qxb5 Qxd4+ 71. Kh2 Kf6 72. Qe8 Qd2+ 73. Kh1 Qh6+ {forcing the exchange of Qs on g6} 0-1

Round 9 results: http://chess-results.com/tnr127293.aspx?lan=1&art=2&rd=9&wi=821
Final Ranking:  http://chess-results.com/tnr127293.aspx?lan=1&art=1&rd=9&wi=821

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