Bunratty 2014

Last year I was unable to play Bunratty as it clashed with my time in Iceland but with the dates moved to earlier in February this year Sue and I were able to return to Ireland’s premier weekend tournament. I had been over at my parents’ and took the long, slow bus down the west coast on the Thursday to Ennis where I stayed with my friend Rory and his partner who were very kind to put me up. A much quicker bus on the Friday morning and I arrived back in Bunratty. Sue was at work in the morning but joined me in the late afternoon. It turned out she was lucky as Mark Hebden’s flight got rerouted to Dublin and so he missed the first round. A few years ago the Bunratty Castle Hotel  started hosting and sponsoring the event. It’s a very pleasant hotel with good facilities and has definitely made the event even better. Unfortunately, due to the close proximity with the Gibraltar Chess Festival, Mickey Adams and Nigel Short were unable to play but it was still very strong with 7 GMs, 7 IMs, a WGM and 2 WIMs. I was down as fifth seed as they were using Irish ratings but on FIDE I would have been top by a few points. Sue was paired with Tom Rendle in the first round, not only an IM but also a very old friend of mine. Sue played well and they drew after a long battle. The rest of the top boards went to seeding, I defeated David Murray who, coincidentally, I played in the first round of Kilkenny too! Bunratty is a very social tournament and it’s easy to be up very late in the bar which makes the 9.30am start and 3 games on the Saturday even tougher. Sue very sensibly decided to take a half point bye for the first of these and instead made use of the luxury spa at the hotel. I was Black against FIDE Master Philip Short, the strongest of the brothers, and prevailed in the end but the game was rather topsy-turvy! [pgn height=500 initialHalfmove=0 autoplayMode=none] [Event “Bunratty”] [Site “London ENG”] [Date “2014.02.08”] [Round “2”] [White “Short, P.”] [Black “Jones, G.”] [Result “0-1”] [ECO “E73”] [WhiteElo “2274”] [BlackElo “2648”] [Annotator “Jones,Gawain”] [PlyCount “64”] [EventDate “2013.12.11”] [SourceDate “2008.01.22”] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Bg5 {The Averbakh Variation. I’d had a look at this for the London Classic as Boris Gelfand plays it from time to time. Remembering my analysis was another thing entirely! } Na6 7. Qd2 c6 8. Bd1 $5 {Philip goes his own way. I think his idea was to play Bc2 and Nge2 reinforcing his centre but it feels a bit slow} (8. Nf3 {is the normal move but in a recent game from the World Cup White fell for a cunning trap:} e5 9. O-O exd4 10. Nxd4 Nc5 11. f3 $2 Nfxe4 $1 12. Nxe4 Nxe4 13. fxe4 Bxd4+ 14. Qxd4 Qxg5 15. Qxd6 Rd8 {and Black was already clearly better.} 16. Qa3 Rd2 17. Rfe1 Be6 18. Qc3 Rad8 19. c5 R8d4 20. b3 Rxe4 21. Bf3 Red4 22. Re3 Bd5 23. Re8+ Kg7 24. Bxd5 Qxd5 25. Qg3 Rd1+ 26. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 27. Re1 Qxc5+ { 0-1 Agdestein,S (2567)-Bacrot,E (2714)/Tromso 2013/CBM 156}) 8… b5 $5 { Trying to exploit the loose e4 pawn.} 9. cxb5 cxb5 10. Bc2 (10. a3 {was better. }) 10… b4 11. Nd1 d5 12. e5 Ne4 13. Bxe4 dxe4 14. Ne2 f6 15. exf6 exf6 16. Be3 Nc7 {This starts to complicate the game unduly.} (16… Rb8 {holding onto the pawn was safer.}) 17. Qxb4 Nd5 18. Qa3 Rf7 19. Ndc3 Nxe3 20. fxe3 Rb8 { Overlooking that White’s next is legal.} 21. Nxe4 Re7 (21… Bf8 {was my idea but I’d forgotten White could play simply} 22. Nc5) 22. Nc5 ({I considered} 22. Nf2 {to be better, controlling the g4 square. Black still has good play for the pawns with my bishop pair and White’s vulnerable king and e pawn.}) 22… Bg4 23. Rd1 f5 $6 {Not the most accurate and I flounder over the next few moves.} ({Following} 23… Qd5 {White’s obliged to give up the exchange with} 24. Nf4 Qc4 25. Kd2 Bxd1 26. Rxd1 {but I wasn’t sure how to evaluate the position. White has two pawns for the exchange but Black’s probably still better as White’s king is loose.}) 24. Qc3 $2 Qe8 $2 (24… Bh6 $1 { immediately should have been preferred as} 25. Rd3 Qd5 {leaves White completely defenceless.}) 25. Rd3 Bh6 26. h3 {After the game we thought this was the losing move but the computer points out an amazing resource.} (26. Kf2 {was the move I was expecting and had calculated the following line:} Bxe2 ( 26… Qf7 $5 {looks like dynamic equality.}) 27. Kxe2 Bxe3 $2 28. Rxe3 Rxe3+ 29. Qxe3 Rxb2+ 30. Kf3 Qc6+ {but couldn’t see anything after} 31. Kf4 {and indeed White’s just winning.}) 26… Bxe3 $6 {Objectively a mistake but White’s path is difficult.} (26… Bxe2 27. Kxe2 Qf7 {seems to leave Black with enough play for the material.}) 27. hxg4 Bf2+ 28. Kxf2 $2 ({We’d both overlooked} 28. Kd1 Rxe2 29. Nd7 $3 {when, surprisingly, Black doesn’t have a threat and the fork on f6 would force me to give the exchange with} Qxd7 30. Kxe2 Bh4 {when White is clearly better but the game’s not yet over as} 31. Rxh4 Qe7+ {regains the exchange.}) 28… Rxe2+ 29. Kg3 Rbxb2 {Now my pressure on the second rank is worth at least a piece.} 30. Rg1 $2 {This appears to be the losing move but it was already extremely difficult and perhaps cannot be saved anyway.} Qb8+ 31. Kh3 Qf4 $1 32. gxf5 g5 {And there’s no defence to the threat of …Qh4#} 0-1 [/pgn]   The top seed Oleg Korneev was rather fortunate to draw and so by round three I had made it to one of the 3 live boards. This was another pairing with Irish IM Sam Collins. We’ve played a lot over the years and always have interesting games. I tried an interesting sideline of the English and we reached a complex middlegame. Sam must have been fine but was rather unlucky that a logical sequence of moves suddenly left him in a lost endgame. [pgn height=500 initialHalfmove=0 autoplayMode=none] [Event “Bunratty”] [Site “?”] [Date “2014.02.08”] [Round “3”] [White “Jones, G.”] [Black “Collins, S.”] [Result “1-0”] [ECO “A22”] [WhiteElo “2648”] [BlackElo “2469”] [Annotator “Jones,Gawain”] [PlyCount “83”] [EventDate “2014.??.??”] [SourceDate “2008.01.22”] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. g3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bg2 Nb6 6. e3 $5 {An interesting sideline which has become popular over the last couple of years.} Be7 7. Nge2 O-O 8. O-O Nc6 9. f4 {This advance is one of the main points of White developing his knight to e2.} f6 10. f5 a5 {This seems to be a novelty but it makes sense to grab some space on the queenside.} 11. g4 a4 12. d4 Ra5 13. Kh1 Kh8 14. d5 ({Keeping the tension with} 14. a3 {was the alternative and might be a better plan.}) 14… Nb4 15. e4 c6 16. a3 Na6 17. Qc2 {A very interesting middlegame position has emerged. While I have more space I have to be careful as Black has a useful outpost on b3 and my pawn on d5 is potentially vulnerable. The chief question in the position will probably be who can activate their light squared bishops.} (17. dxc6 Qxd1 18. Rxd1 bxc6 {would be better for Black as I can’t attack the loose pawn on c6 which is actually useful in defending the d5 square while Black will get a lot of play on the queenside after …Nc5 and …Ba6.}) 17… Qc7 18. Be3 Bc5 (18… cxd5 19. Bxb6 Qxb6 20. Nxd5 {should be a bit better for White with the strong knight.}) 19. Bd2 Nc4 20. dxc6 Nxd2 ({After} 20… bxc6 {my point was the bizarre} 21. Bc1 $1 {It seems I’ve just lost a few tempi but the bishop on c5 actually gets in Black’s way and Black actually has to retreat to defend his a4 pawn with} Nb6 { when I was considering grabbing some more space on the kingside with} 22. g5) 21. Qxd2 Qxc6 {keeping the structure intact but now I have the d5 outpost.} ( 21… bxc6 22. Qc2 {wins the a4 pawn.}) 22. Rfd1 b6 23. Rac1 Bb7 24. Nd5 Nc7 25. Nec3 Nxd5 {I thought Sam’s position here was completely healthy but actually he still has a few problems to solve.} (25… Qd6 {keeping the tension was a better practical try when the position is roughly level.}) 26. exd5 Qd7 27. d6 Rd8 28. Bxb7 Qxb7+ 29. Qg2 Qxg2+ 30. Kxg2 Bd4 ({Black can’t win the d pawn yet with} 30… Rxd6 {as} 31. Rxd6 Bxd6 32. Nxa4 $1 {exploits Black’s back rank problems and} Kg8 33. Nxb6 {actually leaves White a pawn up.} ) (30… Bxd6 {was possible but White has at least enough pressure for the pawn. The computer offers the intruiging} 31. g5 $1) 31. Ne4 $1 {e4 is a wonderful outpost for the knight. I was worried about losing my queenside pawns but it turns out I’m ahead in the race.} Bxb2 $2 {Surprisingly, and luckily for me, this obvious move turns out to simply lose.} ({Sam should have tried} 31… Rb5 {when I’ll trust the computer when it says everything draws.}) 32. Rc7 $1 ({Initially I was planning} 32. Rc6 {which looks enough to draw but the text is just killing.}) 32… Kg8 {This doesn’t help but already it was tough to offer Black any advice.} (32… Bxa3 33. g5 {would be very similar to the game.}) ({While} 32… h6 33. d7 Bxa3 34. Rc8 Be7 35. Nd6 {wins at least a rook.}) 33. g5 $1 {Despite queens exchanged my attack is unstoppable.} fxg5 34. f6 $1 gxf6 35. Nxf6+ Kf8 36. Nxh7+ Kg8 37. Nf6+ Kf8 38. Ne4 {Keeping the bishop on b2 and rook on a5 bystanders.} Rc5 39. Rf1+ Kg8 40. Nf6+ Kf8 41. Ne8+ $1 Kxe8 (41… Kg8 42. Rg7+ Kh8 43. Rf8#) 42. Re7# 1-0 [/pgn]

Me on board three against Sam. Waiting for his reply to 1.c4
Me on board three against Sam. Waiting for his reply to 1.c4

Sue played another good game with Black against Ireland’s first IM Mark Orr. She equalised easily and was pressing when she accepted to split the point so she could return to the spa for another appointment. Draws on the other top boards meant that at the half way stage I was the only one on 3/3.   The final game of the day I had Black against the Israeli GM Alon Greenfeld. He played the Torre against my Kings Indian and I followed a line I’d played before where I grab the bishop pair but in turn lag behind in development. Alon spent a lot of time on his early moves and I achieved a decent time advantage in a dynamically equal position. The computer points out he missed a chance to grab a pawn that neither of us thought was possible and then with his odd 24.Qa2 and 25.Bg1 I took over the initiative. His position should probably be defensible but short on time it was tough and he fell for a tactic. [pgn height=500 initialHalfmove=0 autoplayMode=none] [Event “Bunratty”] [Site “?”] [Date “2014.02.08”] [Round “4”] [White “Greenfeld, A.”] [Black “Jones, G.”] [Result “0-1”] [ECO “A48”] [WhiteElo “2532”] [BlackElo “2648”] [PlyCount “70”] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. d4 g6 3. Bg5 Bg7 4. Nbd2 d6 5. c3 h6 6. Bh4 g5 7. Bg3 Nh5 8. e3 e6 9. a4 Qe7 10. a5 a6 11. Be2 O-O 12. Nf1 f5 13. N3d2 Nf6 14. h4 Nc6 15. hxg5 hxg5 16. Qb3 Qf7 17. f3 e5 18. dxe5 Be6 19. Bc4 Bxc4 20. Nxc4 dxe5 21. Nfd2 f4 22. Bf2 Rab8 23. e4 g4 24. Qa2 g3 25. Bg1 Rfd8 26. Nb1 Re8 27. b4 Bf8 28. Ke2 Kg7 29. Nb2 Qg6 30. Nd2 Rbd8 31. Qc4 Rd7 32. Bc5 Bxc5 33. Qxc5 Red8 34. Rad1 Rxd2+ 35. Rxd2 Nxe4 0-1 [/pgn] Sue was again one of many draws and so with two rounds to go I had a full point lead. 9.15am on Sunday morning we were back again and this time I had White against Czech GM Jiri Stocek. I couldn’t remember much of my theory in the Rubinstein Nimzo and with accurate defence Jiri reached a drawn endgame pretty quickly. Something seemed to go wrong quite early for Sue with Black against another IM, Gavin Wall, and despite defending tenaciously went down in a long game. Oleg Korneev defeated the fast rising Valentine Kalinins on board two and Sam beat WGM Alina L’Ami meaning they both reduced my lead to half a point going into the last round. As I had already played Sam, Black against top seed Oleg Korneev was a forced pairing. I managed to do a little bit of preparation and then Sue and me headed off to the local cafe for lunch. I think the best way of describing the game is simply to look through my annotated game below. [pgn height=500 initialHalfmove=0 autoplayMode=none] [Event “Bunratty Masters”] [Site “?”] [Date “2014.02.09”] [Round “6”] [White “Korneev, O.”] [Black “Jones, G.”] [Result “0-1”] [ECO “B76”] [WhiteElo “2631”] [BlackElo “2648”] [Annotator “Jones,Gawain”] [PlyCount “88”] [EventDate “2014.??.??”] [SourceDate “2008.01.22”] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 {Going into the last round I had a half point lead over my opponent and Sam Collins and decided to fall back on my beloved Dragon.} 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O {Recently this positional approach has supplanted the old main line of 9.Bc4.} d5 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bd4 Bxd4 13. Qxd4 Qb6 14. Na4 Qc7 15. Bc4 Rd8 {The main move but actually the first time I’ve played it.} 16. Nc5 Bf5 { Threatening 17…Bxc2 as 18.Kxc2 Nb4+ picks up the queen.} 17. Bb3 Nf4 (17… h5 $2 {was played in an elite event but} 18. g4 $1 e5 19. Qg1 Nf4 20. Re1 hxg4 21. fxg4 Bc8 22. Qg3 a5 23. Qh4 a4 24. Bxf7+ Kg7 25. Ne4 {was disastrous. 1-0 Karjakin,S (2780)-Van Wely,L (2679) Wijk aan Zee 2013.}) 18. Qf2 Rxd1+ 19. Rxd1 Rd8 20. Rxd8+ Qxd8 21. g3 Qd4 22. Qxd4 Ne2+ 23. Kd2 Nxd4 {And so we’ve gone straight from the opening into an endgame. Black is actually winning a pawn by force here but it should only be White pressing with his active pieces and Black’s vulnerable c6 pawn.} 24. Ke3 Nxc2+ 25. Bxc2 Bxc2 26. Nd7 f6 27. Nb8 c5 {In weekend tournaments preparation doesn’t really come into it as there’s so little time between games. However, in the 15 minutes or so I had before going to lunch I had a look over a couple of critical lines and actually had this position on my computer screen! The time control was 90 minutes for the whole game plus 15 seconds increment every move. By this point I still had around 84 minutes left while Oleg was down to below 5 minutes, a useful advantage.} 28. Nd7 ({Regaining the pawn immediately with} 28. Nc6 {is preferred by the computer when I thought Black should be holding after} Kf7 29. Nxa7 Ke6 { although I still need to be accurate.}) 28… c4 29. Kd4 Kf7 30. f4 $2 {In time trouble Korneev errs.} (30. Kxc4 {was better but I daresay he wanted to avoid} e5 31. Nc5 Bd1 32. f4 exf4 33. gxf4 g5 {when the pawns will get liquidated and his winning chances disappear.}) 30… Ke6 31. Nc5+ Kf5 $1 { White can’t defend his kingside pawns.} 32. Kxc4 Kg4 33. Kd4 ({I thought Oleg had to go into a race but my kingside pawns are at least as fast as his.} 33. Kb5 Kh3 34. Ka6 Kxh2 ({The computer points out} 34… e5 $1 35. fxe5 fxe5 36. Kxa7 e4 37. Ne6 Kxh2 38. Nd4 Ba4 $1 39. b3 Bd7 {and apparently I’m faster.}) 35. Kxa7 Kxg3 36. b4 h5 (36… Bd1 {might be better.}) 37. b5 h4 38. b6 h3 39. b7 h2 40. b8=Q h1=Q {and both queen. I’d actually calculated this position and thought it likely that White would hold the draw but Black can hardly lose.}) ( 33. b4 Kh3 34. b5 (34. a4 Kxh2 35. a5 Kxg3 36. b5 Bd1 $1 {and I’ll successfully stop White’s queenside pawns.}) 34… Kxh2 35. a4 Bxa4 $1 36. Nxa4 h5 {and again my kingside pawns are too powerful.}) 33… Kh3 34. Ke3 Kxh2 35. Kf2 h5 36. b4 {At this point Oleg offered me a draw. While a draw would guarantee me at least first equal there was a chance Sam would win to catch me. Spending a little of my huge time advantage I calculated a forced win.} g5 37. fxg5 fxg5 38. Ne6 g4 39. Nf4 h4 40. gxh4 g3+ 41. Ke3 e5 42. Ne2 g2 43. Kf2 (43. Kd2 Bg6 $1 {is no different.}) 43… Bd1 44. Ng1 e4 {Korneev threw in the towel as there’s no defence to 45…e3+.} 0-1 [/pgn] Sam and Mark Hebden ended up drawing on board two and so Sam tied for second together with Alon Greenfeld who had defeated Alina and Bogdan Lalic who looked to be winning straight out of the opening against Tom. Unfortunately Sue overpressed and lost another long game, a disappointing finish but she can still hold her head up high with the 2 draws against IMs!

Bunratty Castle & Durty Nelly's.
Bunratty Castle & Durty Nelly’s.

Sue had work Monday morning and so had to travel to the airport during the prize giving but the rest of us went to dinner at the old pub Durty Nelly’s. A delicious meal but I felt rather overfull! Bunratty traditionally ends with an informal blitz tournament and the organisers waited for us to return before starting it. Whether it was too much food, the celebratory beers or simply too much chess, I found myself unable to calculate anything at all and was extremely fortunate to beat Tom in the quarterfinals, a match that was more entertaining than good chess! I got a fantastic position in the semifinals against Bogdan Lalic with 1.d4 Nf6 2.g4?!! which I used to defeat him in the Kilkenny blitz. Unfortunately I then blundered a pawn and piece on successive moves and that was that. Mark Hebden ended up as blitz champion winning the final.

The Deputy Mayor of Limerick, Cllr. Diarmuid Scully presenting me with the trophy
The Deputy Mayor of Limerick, Cllr. Diarmuid Scully presenting me with the trophy

If that wasn’t enough chess we then played some Braccia-mente (hand-brain) which is a form of pairs chess where one player names the piece to move (pawn, knight, bishop etc.) and the other has to figure out which one and where. An early morning flight meant I got around four hours sleep but at the time of writing have more or less recovered 🙂 I’d like to thank Gerry Graham who was not only arbiter but also organiser, constantly busy but who very kindly gave me a lift to the airport in the morning. His report on the event can be found here, a list of prize winners and the final standings.  Gary O’Grady also deserves a lot of gratitude who provides generous sponsorship and ensures the tournament carries on being not only a great social weekend but also a very strong chess tournament. I hope to be back again next year!



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