Living on the edge
After having achieved a GM title and a rating above 2600, the goal in a world junior championship is simply to get as many points as possible, coz that is what you need to get the coveted title. That’s why it’s easy to get a bit jealous when Negi got a 1-minute win with black as his opponent didn’t show. However, ten minutes into my own game, I had a big advantage after my over-the-board inspiration h3, which seems to be the best move in the position. The computer indicates that black has big trouble after e4 instead of g3, with the point being to meet e5 with c5, and there’s some Qb3 in the air. However, in the game I also got a big advantage both on the board and the clock. Though, the combination of c5 (intending Bc4 with lots of trouble for black’s king) and Rxd8 was very unfortunate, as black got his knight to d5. After the time trouble, my opponent had great counterplay on the kingside, and I even allowed a win with d3, as the computer indicates my planned Rxc7+ is calmly met by Kf8. In the end I decided to bail out with a kinda desperate queen sacrifice, when in fact I had a perpetual by giving up my rook and knight. Luckily, my opponent was very happy to give up his strong bishop for winning a pawn, but this allowed me to set up a fortress.
In the second round, I once again got a great position from the opening, but with Nxe7+!, white got just enough time to establish some counterplay against the e5-pawn. Even in the resulting position with the g2-bishop having a great diagonal, but nothing really more to do – or so I thought. In the game white got in Be4-f5 when suddenly the solid black position I thought was clearly somewhat better, became a mess. Maybe I should have tried to facilitate a pawn sacrifice with e4 to block the diagonal, and then place a knight on e5, but white can usually just give back the pawn immediately with e5. Re3 followed by Re4 and back to e3 was very strong, and my queen was out of play. Understanding that my position was dire, I tried snatching another pawn for leverage before sending the queen back home. In the game it worked perfectly, as I got in a well-timed queen sacrifice – the only difference from the first round was that this time the sacrifice was good enough to put some pressure on white.
39…Qxg5+! 40. Rg3 Rg7 41. Rxg5 Rxg5+ 42. Kf1 Rxf5 For the queen black has some pawns, but more importantly, an attack against the white king. I expected 43. Qg3+ Kh7 44. Qe3 when I thought the position was unclear, but certainly not bad for black. However, my opponent instantly played 43. Qh3! which keeps the white position together, as white doesn’t allow black to consolidate and coordinate his pieces optimally. 43.Qxh6 would be a bad mistake in view of 43…Rxf2+ 44.Kg1 Kf7! with a decisive attack. After Qh3, the game ended in a draw after: 43…Rb1+ 44. Ke2 Rb2+ 45. Ke1 Rb1+ 46. Ke2 Rb2+ 47. Ke1 Rfxf2 48. Qe6+ Kf8 49. Rxh6 Rbe2+ 50. Kd1 Rd2+ 1/2-1/2