Sam Shankland, the winner of the 3rd Chinggis GM International, writes about the tournament and analyzes some of his games.
Last year, I won the 2nd Chinggis International at the Chinggis Club in Burlingame, Calif. Of course, I wanted to defend the title, so last week I was there again, as the co-top seed (along with Jeffery Xiong). Though there were some bumps along the way (as will be apparent in the games below), I successfully defended the title, scoring 7 points, finishing a half point ahead of Alexander Shimanov and Zviad Izoria.
It always feels great to win a tournament, and I’m happy to share some of my experiences from the competition.
The tournament was a 10-player round robin invitational, with two games per day, held Feb. 22-26. The field was very strong. Apart from two lower-rated local players, there were seven grandmasters, six of whom were rated over 2600, and an international master rated over 2500.
In Round 1, playing White against Shimanov, I obtained an edge, but I did not manage to convert the point.
Shankland, Sam vs. Shimanov, Alexander
Chinggis GM International |Burlingame, California |Round 1 |01 Mar 2017 |1/2-1/2
20. Qxc1I thought I had a pretty pleasant position because I have more space and control the c-file, but the computer is unimpressed. Still, it remains difficult to play as Black 20... Qb8?!This move is dubious.
( 20... Nb6!This should equalize. The point is that after 21. Nxb6Qxb622. Qc3a4!White has a permanent weakness on a3. After: 23. Rc1Rb8White dominates the open c-file, but can't invade because he always has to keep an eye on the pawn on a3. The game should end in a draw as I can find no credible plan for either side. )
21. Qc3!My opponent overlooked this move. Now Black has to make an unpleasant decision: Allow Rc1, after which White completely dominates the open file, or lose the pawn on a5. 21... b6
( 21... Rc8The engine prefers this move, but after: 22. Qxa5Rc223. Bd1Rc824. Qd2Black does not have enough compensation for being down a pawn. )
22. Rc1White's chances are now much better. Black has no counterplay and White dominates the only open file. 22... Rd823. Bf3
( 23. Qb3!This move was also tempting as White can try to invade on c6 with the rook, but I rejected it because of: 23... Rc824. Rc6Rc7Black can follow with Bd8, after which he has improved the placement of his pieces. But I had overlooked that 25. g4!Is very strong. The threat is f5, undermining the Black d-pawn and Black is hard pressed to deal with that problem. White would have very good chances to win. )
23... Nf824. Qb3!Another good move. White is ready to invade with Rc6, and Black can no longer play Rc8 without the knight on d7 as b6 will be unprotected. 24... Rc8!Anyway! I was shocked to see this move as I thought it just lost the pawn on b6 and then White would have a huge edge. But things are not so simple. 25. Rxc8Qxc826. Nxb6Qc2!Another good move that I had not anticipated.
( 26... Qc7This traps the knight since Na4 fails to Bc2, but I had calculated that: 27. Nxd5!exd528. b6Qc429. Bxd5!Qe230. Kh1!Should be winning for me. My pawns are much stronger than Black's knight. )
27. Qxc2Bxc228. Bc1I am up a pawn, but it's hard to hang on to all of them. I still had a decisive edge, but I needed to play
precisely. 28... Bd829. Nc8Bd330. Nd6Not a bad move, but not the best.
( 30. a4!This move was stronger. I had seen: 30... Bc231. b6Bxa432. b7Nd7And thought Black is better coordinated in addition to having won back one of his pawns. But I did not notice that I could play: 33. f5!Which should win. Surprisingly, Black is helpless to prevent fxe6 followed by Bg4. )
30... Bc731. Bd1!This way I am able to play a4.
( 31. a4Bc2And Black will win the pawn on a4. )
31... Bxd632. exd6Bxb5I lose a pawn, but after: 33. a4!Bc634. Bd2I win another one. I still have a big edge, but Black has a super solid structure and good chances to create a blockade on the light squares. 34... Nd735. Bxa5Kf836. Bb4?Missing my last chance. Now I think Black should by fine.
( 36. Bc7!I probably should still be able to win. It's very important to stop the knight from getting to b8. )
36... Ke837. a5Bb538. Kf2Nb8!39. Be2Bxe240. Kxe2Kd7And I was unable to break this fortress. Black can play f5, put his king on c6, and shuffle Na6-b8 for the rest of the game.
Round 2 was a relatively uneventful draw, so I was not off to the fastest start. In Round 3, I started having some doomsday thoughts as I was absolutely being crushed by Elshan Moradiabadi. But then strange things started happening:
Shankland, Sam vs. Moradiabadi, Elshan
Chinggis GM International |Burlingame, California |Round 3 |01 Mar 2017 |1-0
bxc3White is much better, but the position is very sharp and black clearly has counterplay. The cost of a mistake will be high. 31. Qd3?A bad move. I was hoping to make it possible to play g5 by defending f5, but my move just does not work.
( 31. Qf2!This quiet, but strong move puts Black in a lot of trouble. The threat is Nd7 followed by g5. 31... Qb432. Nd7Rac833. Nxf6+gxf634. Bh6 )
31... Rac8At this point, I realized that g5 fails: 32. Bg3Not a happy move to have to make.
( 32. g5Bxe533. Bxe5Qc5+34. Bd4Qc4!I overlooked this obvious move when I played Qd3. I should lose as I cannot play f6. )
( 32. Rac1!This was the best move. I was worried about 32... Nc6But the computer show that I am okay after: 33. Ng6Qc5+34. Be3Still, I would definitely prefer to play Black after: 34... Nb4!35. Qe2d4And I thought I might be dead lost despite being up an exchange. 36. Nxf8Kxf837. Bf2Somehow White is surviving, according to the computer. )
32... c2!33. Rac1Qb4!A nice tactical resource. The pawn on c2 cannot be taken and Black will invade on c3 on the next move. 34. Kh2
( 34. Rxc2Bxe5!And White loses material. 35. Rxc8Bd4+ )
34... Rc335. Qd2Mentally I was just about ready to resign, but I still had dreams of getting the kingside going. Every now and then one has to be a little lucky. 35... Qb3
( 35... Bxe5!36. Rxe5Qa3And White cannot survive. )
36. Qg2Bg537. Nd7Rfc838. Be5At this point, I would have resigned if my opponent had played Rf3. Instead with time control just a few moves away, he erred badly: 38... Re3?This move looks tempting, but after
( 38... Bxc1This also wins )
( 38... Rf3This is the simplest win. I cannot play f6, not now, or ever, and White will lose on the next move. )
39. Rxe3!Black is in a dilemma. If he takes with the queen on e3, then c2 will hang, but if he takes with the bishop I am able to play f6! 39... Bxe3?This doesn't lose just yet, but Black will have to find an insanely difficult move. Instead, Qxe3 was an easier route to a draw.
( 39... Qxe340. Rxc2This is a bit unpleasant for Black, but he should hold after: 40... Rxc2!41. Qxc2h5! )
40. f6gxf6?The last move before time control seals Black's fate
( 40... Ng6!This holds by a thread. For example: 41. f7+Kh842. e7Nxe743. Qf1Ng6!The only defense to the threat of Bxg7+ followed by Qf6 mate 44. Qf5Qc4And Black holds on. )
( 40... Bxc1?41. Qf2and Black is mated as he cannot stop the many threats. The biggest one is f7+ followed by Qf6 mate. 41... Ng642. f7+Kh843. e7And White will win. )
41. Nxf6+Kf842. Qf1Black resigned as he cannot avoid mate.
After that game, I was counting my blessings. It made me completely forget about my squandered half point in Round 1. I now felt that I had half a point more than I deserved, and this helped me face the next couple rounds with optimism. In particular, after beating one of the locals in Round 4, I was able to punish Timur Gareev (who set the world simultaneous blindfold record last year) for his opening follies in Round 5.
Shankland, Sam vs. Gareyev, Timur
Chinggis GM International |Burlingame, California |Round 5 |01 Mar 2017 |*
9. Bc4I was shocked to see Timur play the Grunfeld for the first time in his life, dodging all of my preparation. In this position, without a second's thought, he played 9... cxd5?!At this point, I thought I am have walked into some incredible home preparation. But, in fact, it is just a poor move.
( 9... b5!This is the most common move. After: 10. Bb3b411. Nce2cxd512. h4!The position is very interesting )
10. Bxd5I am now up a pawn. If I can develop my pieces with Nge2 followed by 0-0, I will just be better. 10... Nc611. Nge2Bg4Black tries to play energetically. It is not easy to defend the center. 12. f3!I didn't want to play this move but I did not see a way to avoid it.
( 12. O-OBxe2!and Black equalizes material. 13. Qxe2Nxd4 )
12... Bf513. Qd2!Prophylaxis against Qb6.
( 13. O-OObviously, this was the most natural move, but I was not sure about: 13... Qb6When both b2 and e5 are attacked. After: 14. Na4Qa615. Bxc6Qxc6It looked to me like Black had decent compensation for his material deficit. )
13... Na5Timur played this move instantly as well. So far, he had spent almost no time thinking. I thought I might be getting hit with nasty home preparation, but the more I calculated, the more I liked my position.
( 13... Qb614. Na4Qc715. Rc1!Black cannot prevent his pawn structure from being compromised by bxc6. After: 15... Rad816. Bxc6bxc617. Qc3White looks much better to me. My knights are no worse than Black's bishops and my center remains intact. )
14. b3!Anticipating e6, White does not put the knight on c4.
( 14. b4This was tempting as well, though after: 14... e615. Bxe6!Bxe616. bxa5Qxa5I didn't love opening the position for the bishops and giving Black a queenside pawn majority. Still, I would be clearly better with my big center and extra pawn. )
14... Rc815. Rc1I had no interest in letting Black invade along the c-file
( 15. f4This was also very strong, clearing f3 for the bishop. )
( 15... b516. Be4 )
16. Be4Bxe417. Nxe4Rxc1+18. Qxc1Nc619. Qc5Timur was still playing very fast, but now I was totally comfortable. I have traded a bunch of pieces, been able to
maintain my pawn center, and I am one move away from completing development. 19... Qh4+?This just sidelines the queen.
( 19... Qb820. Kf2Rd821. Rc1White is much better but black can fight on. At least his queen is reasonably close to the action. )
20. g3Qh621. Kf2!Stopping Qe3. 21... Rd822. h4!I am up a pawn and Black has no compensation for it. 22... Bf823. Qc3Be724. Qe3Qxe3+Not a happy move to make, but after:
( 24... Qg725. h5It's very clear that White's queen is better than Black's )
25. Kxe3Nb426. Rc1!With an extra pawn, more central space, and more active pieces, I won easily.
At this point, I was tied for first with four games to go. I was feeling pretty good about my form and I easily held Izoria to a draw with Black. I was quite happy until I got back to the room and checked the game with an engine. It showed that I had missed a simple one-move win!
Izoria, Zviad vs. Shankland, Sam
Chinggis GM International |Burlingame, California |Round 6 |01 Mar 2017 |1/2-1/2
Rfc8White played a pretty toothless line of the Catalan and I found all the best moves. The game was heading for a draw and we both were almost counting down until move 30 the rule in effect for the tournament that all games must go at least 30 moves. But this can lead to
complacency. 20. Rxc5?I do not understand why White would give up control of the only open file.
( 20. Ne1Why not play this without trading rooks? The position is dead equal. )
20... Qxc521. Ne1Bxg222. Kxg2h6Now White has to be a little careful, as the game demonstrates: 23. e4?!
( 23. Nd3Qd424. Kg1!And White is ready to play Rc1, when chances will be equal. ... )
23... Qb4!Now White needs to be careful. 24. Qe2?
( 24. Qxb4!Nxb425. Kf3!Nc226. Rd1And White holds since Black cannot
occupy the second rank. 26... Nxe1+27. Rxe1Rc228. Re2 )
24... Nf625. f3Rd8At this point, I was very optimistic: How can White stop Rd2? 26. Nd3??At first when I saw this move, I thought White had blundered and that after Qc4, he will lose the pawn on a2. But then I realized his idea and resigned myself to a draw. This was the grossest case of mutual blindness I can ever recall in my chess career.
( 26. a3!This was best. White should hold after: 26... Rd227. axb4Rxe2+28. Kg1!It will be difficult for White for a while. )
( 26. Rd1Rxd127. Qxd1Qxb2+ )
( 26... Rxd3This move is not even remotely difficult to calculate. It is just one move and it would be time for White to resign. )
27. Rd1!The pawn on a2 is immune. The game was drawn shortly afterwards. 27... g5
( 27... Qxa2?28. Nb4!The queen and the rook are both attacked. 28... Qa529. Nc6White is winning. )
Normally such a shock would be hard to get over and that is why many coaches and strong players recommend that you not check your games with an engine until the tournament is over. But for me it felt like weird justice — I had drawn two games that I felt that I should have won, but I had also won a completely lost position. I had earned 2.0/3 in those games — the score I deserved — even if the points came in weird ways.
The draw against Izoria kept me in a big tie for first, but I pulled ahead ahead in the next couple of rounds with good wins over Andrey Gorovets (the international master rated over 2500) and Ganbold Odondoo, a Bay-Area international master rated over 2300. The Odondoo game was especially amusing, as it was decided by a huge blunder — not unlike many of my other games.
Shankland, Sam vs. Odondoo, Ganbold
Chinggis GM International |Burlingame, California |Round 8 |01 Mar 2017 |1-0
8. e5Black is slightly worse after a somewhat unusual opening, but now he blunders: 8... Nfd7??
( 8... Ng8!9. f4Ne7I prefer White's position, but the game would continue. 10. Nf3O-O11. Nc3c612. O-O-O )
9. Bg5Just 10 minutes into the game, and it's already over. The queen is trapped and after: 9... f6White decisively invades with: 10. Ne6Qe711. Nxc7+Kd812. Nxd5Qxe5+13. Be3Black cannot even take on b2 because of
Bd4, trapping the queen. White has a pleasant lead in development, is up a pawn, and Black's king is on d8. The rest took less than half an hour to finish. 13... f514. Nbc3f415. Nxf4Re816. Nfd5Bh617. Kf2Bxe3+18. Nxe3Nc619. Rd1Ke720. Bc4Kf821. Ned5Rd822. Qh6+Qg723. Qxg7+Kxg724. Nc7
Heading into the last round, I was half a point ahead of the field and playing Black against Xiong. I won the opening battle and got a very nice position, but I played cautiously as a draw was enough to win the tournament.
On the whole I really enjoyed the event, and I look forward to others in the future. I never had opportunities to play with guys over 2300 in the Bay Area when I was growing up, and it brings me great joy to see strong round robins in my home territory. I’d like to thank the Chinggis Chess Club for inviting me, and I hope to be back next year.
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter, has his own site, and is also on Facebook.
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