The Open Norwegian Rapid Championship was played this weekend. Things were looking gloomy for me after the first day, as I lost the all-important top match against the field’s other 2600-GM, Emanuel Berg. Fortunately for me, Emanuel had a very poor second day, and I managed to catch up to him! Even though he had won our individual game, I was declared winner on tiebreaks.
Things could have gone a lot smoother for me if I had chosen a different move-order in the top match:
Black has a big initiative, and most of his pieces are optimally placed. In particular, white’s rook on c2 is not a happy camper. 30…Nd3! Black threatens 31…Bb3, trapping the rook, so white’s answer is forced. 31.Rb1 Rb8! 32.Rxb8 Rxb8 The threat is renewed, and at the same time black has taken control of the open b-file. White is in loads of trouble! 33.c4 Rb1+ 34.Kh2 Nxf2! Originally I was intending Nb4, which I thought was winning instantly. However, white may reply Rc1. White is probably lost there too, but he has some chances of holding on. Instead I changed my plan. Now the c4-pawn remains weak, and the king on h2 + knight on g3 could easily become very uncomfortable when my bishop reaches e5! 35.Be3 Nd3 36.Be4 Here black has the good move 36…Rb3, which is very convincing. Next black will play Be5, and the loose white pieces on the 3rd rank will be his demise. Instead I played 36…Nb4 and after 37.Rd2 we reached the following position:
Moving the rook created a discovered attack by the bishop on e4. Obviously I was aware of that, and contemplated whether I should go to b3 or e1. I realized b3 was the best square, since the knight on g3 is unstable. However, instead of making that move, I continued thinking! I suddenly got the idea that Be5 first was better, as then I could choose between pushing my h-pawn towards h4 or attacking the knight with my rook (via b3), depending on white’s response. So the game ended: 37…Be5 38.Bxb1! 1-0
Oh well, everything worked out in the end!