Turning the tide

…is something of a challenge. For months I didn’t play a single game I was prepared to publish and my self confidence went into a head spin. Lately, though still playing rather kamikaze-like chess (trigger-happy-g-pawn-pushing-side-pawn-launching-no-objectivity-whatsoever-stuff), I have finally played some decent games. At the beginning of October I participated in PokerStars Chess Masters, in Isle of Man. It’s a strong tournament that again was faultlessly arraged. While Pentala Harikrishna steamed on to win the tournament I did my best to find my game. In the eight round I faced Gawain Jones with the Black colors and knew that kamikaze would just not do:

Although I missed some opportunities at the end of the game, I was happy with my play in the critical phase and enjoyed the whole experience very much. It’s a fact: give me a fianchetto and I’ll be happy.

A hole in my preparation

In last months Elite Hotels Open, in Växjö, I played a decent tournament and in the last round I found myself facing the sympathetic Yuri Solodovnichenko, on board 2, with the Black colours. I have lately been working extensively on my repertoire with Black, but with only half an hour to prepare I did, for a moment, lose my confidence and decided to play something that “I know well”, ergo the Modern. I knew that Yuri has a favourite line that I wasn’t afraid of, so it seemed like a good idea. Instead of repeating the this line, my opponent played something that I had previously not even considered as critical. I followed my own recommendation, but after just a few moves my position started to deteriorate, fast, and it became a horrible game for me. It was a hard way to discover a flaw in my views on the Modern, but now I feel obliged to share it with other Modern afficionados:

Carlsen plays the Modern, again

The World Champion has tried out the Modern Defence for the second time within a month and I feel it is my responibility to comment on this game since it follows my main line in “The Modern Tiger” up to move 8.

I am kind of hoping that this initial setback will not make Magnus abandon the Modern. I lost my first three games in this opening and it was only when I returned to it (a year later), that I got it right. Post Script: I now see (after having it pointed out to me by a friendly reader) that it was much more difficult to evaluate 19…Rab8, than I originally thought. It bears witness to how little we sometimes see from the side lines and how easily we… well, hrrm, I, fell into a false narrative. I shall try to do better next time.

Ignorance is bliss

This year’s Rilton Cup turned out well for me. It was not because I played very well, but rather due to the fact that I was a bit lucky and then didn’t make a mess of it in the later rounds. In the sixth round I managed to win a King’s Indian with the black colours against Maxim Turov and then in the seventh I got the chance to play the same side of the same opening against Mihail Krasenkow. It was clear to me that whatever happened I would always know less of what was going on than my opponent did. Maybe my real advantage was that I would not know how bad my position really was?

I’ll be back soon.