Thursday 19 July 2012

De Verdier´s opinion

In action
Seeing as this is my first article for Jasmin’s blog, maybe I should start by introducing myself to its readers. My name is Michael de Verdier, I am 23 years old and I currently live in Malta where I work in the business process outsourcing industry.
I play for the same Swedish team as the blog’s famous proprietor, Eksjö SK, and have done so since the 2006/2007 season.  Although my ambitions in chess have decreased lately, I consider myself an ambitious amateur.
When me and Jasmin were looking for a tournament to play in July, we started by looking at big events in Spain such as the Benasque Open.  However, seeing as I currently live in the very south of Europe and Jasmin had spent a lot of time in his native Bosnia lately we decided to go for a more northern venue.

The Open Scottish Championship came as a natural choice seeing as none of us had played in a British tournament before despite being somewhat “anglophilic”. We decided to fly to London and take the train through Great Britain, which was an experience worthwhile.

Grand Hall Of Trade Hall
The Scottish Championship is played as a big international open since 2008, a format that has also been discussed in Malta. However, Maltese players feel sporting integrity of the National championship is more important than allowing local players to play against strong international opposition. This debate has somewhat fizzled out, but in Scotland this format really seems to work, giving a lot of Scottish players a rare chance to play against strong foreign opposition on home turf.

Incorporated in this Open are Scottish Championship, the Scottish Senior Championship and the Scottish Boys and Girls Championships. Also U1750 and U1500 Championships are played at the same time.
Through an anonymous benefactor the tournament this year had the luxury of being staged in the city centre of Glasgow, in the Trades Hall on Glassford Street. Designed and built in the 1790s, the Trades Hall is still used as a meeting place for the Trades House, and this also proved to be an excellent venue to host a chess tournament, as the medieval character of the interior produced a really inspiring atmosphere.
Also playing conditions were excellent, the playing hall was spacious and there was live coverage of the top 16 boards. A big thanks has to go to the organizing team and especially IA Alex McFarlane, the chief organizer.
My tournament nearly started with a disaster. Luckily my Dutch opponent missed a forced mate in 3 in the time scramble and I managed to win on time in an already unclear position. This is the sort of situations you sometimes get when playing without the 30 second increment, and this time it worked in my favour.
In round 2, I was paired against GM Vitaly Teterev (2530) of Belarus.

                            Michael de Verdier (2352) – Vitaly Teterev (2530) 

1.d4 Sf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 0–0 6.h3

A line which aims to restrict Black's activity. This moves prepares g2-g4 which sometimes can help preventing ..f5. Although this line had not given me a lot of joy in the past I decided to work hard with the resulting positions and came up with a few interesting ideas.

6...e5 7.d5 a5 8.Bg5 Na6 9.Nd2 Qe8 10.Be2 Nd7 11.a3

The first interesting moment.  11.g4 is the other main theoretical move, but after seeing some games of my fellow Swede IM Daniel Semcesen I was not so tempted to pick up this particular line in my reportoire. Not that the move itself is inferior, it just doesn’t suit my style. The text move of course prepares b2-b4.

11...f6 12.Bh4 Nb6

Defending the rook on a8, therefore stopping b4 for the moment. A positional idea for Black can also be ..a4 at some point now, therefore White plays b2-b3.

13.b3 Bh6 14.Rb1 Nc5 15.0–0 Bd7 16.Qc2 f5 17.b4 axb4 18.axb4 Nca4 


The fruit of some work I did in this line in the end of last year. The idea is simply to leave Black's knights stamping on eachother. A basic positional principle is to keep pieces on the board when you have a space advantage, and therefore this idea seemed quite logical to me.  19.Nb5 was played in Y. Vovk - S. Williams, Hastings 2012, with a similar idea I suppose.


Snatching a pawn with 19...Bxd2 20.Qxd2 fxe4 gives White enough compensation after 21.Ne3 followed by Bg4. Black's pieces are poorly coordinated and he has weaknesses around his king.

20.Bg3 f4 21.Bh2

It might seem like Black has boxed in the White bishop on h2, but in fact the real prisoner is the black's bishop on h6. The guy on h2 can always come into play again after Kh1 and f3.

21...Qe7 22.f3

Just stopping ..g4 for good and preparing Nf2-d3, at the same time opening the g1–a7 diagonal for my bishop.

22...Rfc8 (=) 

With a draw offer. Normally when an opponent with almost 200 rating points more than you offers you a draw you know you have a good position, so I decided to play on. Maybe Black's idea is to play now ..c5 and taking back with a piece. This could be stopped by Kh1 or the move I played in the game.


This also has the benefit of preparing c4-c5. 

23...c6 24.dxc6 Rxc6 25.Na5 Rc7 26.Ra1!

A move that puts pressure on Black's entangled pieces. The Black knight on a4 is starting to feel really uncomfortable.


Tired of passive defence, my opponent tries to solve everything tactically. But I had already seen that this move doesn't work. 

27.Rxa4 Bxa4 

Of course, playing a pawn down with 27...b6 28.Ra2 bxa5 29.bxa5 didn't appeal to him.

28.Qxa4 b6

This is the resource that Black had hoped for, but now it's clear that the absence of a light-squared bishop is a fatal element for Black.


Nasty stuff is threatened on d5.

29...Kh8 30.Qd5 bxa5

30...Ra6 is met with 31.c5

31.Qxa8 axb4 32.Qb8 d5 33.cxd5

White is a clear piece up and the rest of the game is not worth commenting on. 

33...Bf8 34.Kh1 g4 35.hxg4 Kg8 36.Nf2 Rc2 37.Bd3 Rc7 38.Ba6 Nd6 39.Qxb4 Qh4 40.Qb2 


IM norm winner
After these first two rounds I felt that things were going my way. In round     3 I managed to hold a slightly worse endgame against IM Gretarsson (2507) and things looked really good. Despite two losses against grandmasters I racked up enough wins against lower rated opponents to earn my 2nd IM norm, and of course I can’t have many complaints with this result!

The tournament was also like a small vacation, getting away from the infernal heat in Malta, as well as visiting some important sights in Glasgow and Edinburgh. I am sure Jasmin will provide you readers with enough pictures of these, because his camera was always with us.

A last thanks has to go to Kenneth, who provided us enough entertainment for 10 tournaments despite his absence…

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