It’s safe to say that Moscow didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. While my imagination imagined a week filled with tough fights and opponents solely above 2600, my miserable performance meant I didn’t face a single player above 2600! Luckily, I managed to create a very good trend in the final two games – winning both in (some) style. The irony is that I got the starting symptoms of a cold the very morning I was to face Natalia! By the end of the game, it had developed into a serious headache, and on the morning of the last round game, my nose had started running faster than the Amazon river. It is a complete mystery to me how I can have my two best games under such circumstances, but I’ll take what I get. Towards the end of my game against A. Zhigalko – the reigning Belorussian champion – I felt much better! Winning chessgames as a (temporary) cure for headaches and colds…. brilliant! Let’s take a quick look at that game.
Black has chosen a rather dangerous line. White has developed harmoniously, while black has a clear weakness. However, black is counting on dynamic counterplay connected with pushing the pawn to a4 and putting the queen on a5. White’s next move is very important, as it stops black’s main plan. 14.b3! Now 14…a4 is met by 15.b4, and white is very much in control. After the game, Andrey was very embarrassed about his play, simply noting that he had missed the standard b3-idea in his preparation! In fact, after being deprived of his main plan, Andrey panicked, and shortly after black’s d6-weakness became his doom. You can check out the whole game here. I especially enjoyed playing the final move Nd7, which felt like a turning point for the poor trend I’ve been having! Knock on wood.