Impressions – day III
Winning against Magnus certainly made my tournament, but I could top it on the last day. Beating Judit in the bronze final would be the icing on the cake. In the first game I had the black pieces. A draw would be a good result, but I made a mistake in the opening, allowing f4 – which seemed to give white a great position. I think appearances lie a bit, as black is very solid, and while the bishop on c8 is restricted by the knight on c5, the same applies vice-versa. I had an opportunity to go 21…Ne4, but I felt that would make my position marginally worse, and opted for the interesting 21…g5 instead. Judit responded well with 22.Rf1, as my planned 22…Ng4 is not very effective against 23.Rf3! and h3 next. The way I played, I managed to force her to exchange on g5, but in turn my center was put under pressure. However, Judit didn’t find the right continuation, and I managed to turn the tables on her. In the ending I managed to get my rook and bishop coordinated – but my king couldn’t join the party. It was cut off by Polgar’s rook on a6. Let’s see the final position:
It seemed to me that it was impossible to make progress. I need my king to cross the 6th rank. To make that happen, I’ll have to move my king to b7, but when I play Kc7, white will respond with Rxa7+ followed by Rg7xg5, which is a bit too many pawns lost to my liking. That was the conclusion I made, so we agreed to a draw. However: I should have asked myself: what does white play after 45…Kd7? If she could skip a move, there would be no problems for white, as 46…Kc7 is met by Rxa7+ as mentioned. But white has to make a move! I think this position is a zugzwang – white has to make a move, but every move worsens her position. I’m not saying it’s winning for black, but I think black has good chances in practical play.
So everything would be decided in the last game! With 15.Bh3, I felt I had the upper hand, but black’s position was certainly playable. After Judit erred with her move order – playing c4 and then Rd6 instead of Rd6 followed by c4 – I got a very good position with a cute tactic on the e-file. I continued playing quick, good moves, and I had her completely tied down:
Black can hardly move any piece. She tried to gain some space on the kingside: 28…h5 29.h4 No more space gaining for you today! 29…g6 30.a4 Just in case you were tempted to do some funky business on the queenside. 30…Qg7 31.R1e5! You’ll just have to wait until all my pieces are in their best positions – then I’ll take on b6 and queen my pawns! Judit got tired of waiting, and tried one final trick: 31…Ng4! 32.Re8+ Kh7 33.Rxd8? I missed her idea! I thought she had to resign after we had exchanged all the rooks and concluded that white had a bishop more than black. I saw the right move, 33.Rxh5+!, but I didn’t understand its significance 😦 In the game, Judit played 33…Qf6! with a mate threat on f2. What a shock! But I kept my head cool and in the end I succeeded in converting my extra pawn.
And of course – in the real final, Magnus had beaten Anand, so it was a triumphant weekend for the Norwegian hosts!