NCC Observations – Part 2
Before having a look and considering my own game against GM Sebastian Maze I thought it might be interesting to note two curious games by Conor O Donell who continues to be a rising star of Irish chess. In the first he won a game against Pat Hogan after Pat resigned in a drawn position!
Nominally it may even have looked better for Black and certainly some thought Black was better or and even winning, but a quick look with an engine on his phone by Conor soon after the game showed it was much simpler and easily drawn than might have been imagined.
The position in the diagram saw White not play Rg3, but resign instead! He had been comfortable for the entire game and had simplified to a position which was level but he was perhaps too eager to make a draw too quickly. It was a safe position even after he had gone too passive but all the more surprising that he just collapsed at the end.
A sample variation indicative of the play is: 1.Rg3 Rxe5 2.Qd1 Kh6 3.Qd8 Rd5 4.Qh8 Kg6 5.Qe8 Qf7 6.Qb8 Kh7 7.Qb1 g6 8.Qe4 Kg7 9.Qc2 Qe7
The other position which brought good fortune to Conor was in the last round against Karl Mc Phillips who had played a nice game and achieved a winning position a few times, but of particular interest is the position in the diagram which was the last anybody had seen of the game online after the board had frozen.
Interestingly enough both Alex Lopez and Stephen Jessel were actually doing a commentary on the last round and had covered this game, among others. The original full broadcast is at: Alex Lopez Twitch
While a clip from their commentary of the game between Karl and Conor is available below.
However what might be of even more interest and indeed instruction for many chess players is to have a listen to the exchange between Alex and Stephen on the specifics of the last known position. It offers a good insight into helping players better understand how stronger international players think about certain positions and how they approach some situations. In the end Conor managed to draw which was a very good result considering the situation he was in.
The position and commentary are well worth checking out by club players and those wanting to improve or just enjoy the insights offered.
As for my own battle against GM Sebastian Maze, well this was a most curious and fascinating game in which I played an odd and risky opening with the idea to confuse and frustrate Black and try play on the fact that he would want to play for a win vigorously. Then I thought there might be the temptation to overreach and create an opportunity for me to then create winning chances of my own.
As it happens this saw Black with an advantage of a sort and then he seemed to go wrong and appeared to give me a chance to seize the imitative and gain an advantage. However despite my own initial optimism and feeling that I was pressing and even the concern evident on the part of my opponent I soon began to have serious doubts. Especially after some fine moves by Black which resulted in the critical position below:
At this point it seemed like I was doing really well, maybe even winning, as some had apparently thought, but after a really long and deep think in which I used up most of my time and set myself up to be in time pressure, I came to the conclusion that I did not have an advantage at all and that there were odd and serious dangers in the position which totally frustrated my ambitions to go active in this exact position.
Later I was amused when I checked the position and talked to Sebastian the next day as the computer gives the position as equal but giving what at first glance seems like a forced line that draws very quickly, but it turns out that the computer and Sebastian were wrong in this moment.
Although the position may well be equal with perfect play and two machines playing each other I thought that the position was so dangerous and hard to play for White that in practical terms there was an excellent line for Black to play which puts White in a passive position and I figured as good as losing.
The critical position which I feared as a possibility is forced after I decide to go into it, and in this position Black has what I consider to be a huge move.
As usual the game can be played through by clicking on the diagram.