Berkeley International

Berkeley International‎

GM thamizhan
10 | Opening Theory

by GM Magesh and GM Arun

After more than three months of break, I (Magesh) finally decided to play a couple of tournaments during the holiday season. My first one was the UTD GM tournament in which I did not fare very well. GM Alexey Dreev pretty much ran over the whole field scoring 8/9 conceding just two draws. GM Alejandro Ramirez wrote an article about the tournament on (here is the link, ) My second tournament was the Berkeley International Chess tournament. NM Arun Sharma (If you have been following the US Chess League, this name should be very familiar) and's own IM David Pruess were the organizers of the tournament.


The 10 round tournament started with GM Van Wely as the top seed and he kept up to his expectations by winning the tournament by accumulating 8 points. I started with 2 wins and then ran into Van Wely in the third round. The game had its ups and downs until I finally blundered an exchange from an equal rook and bishop endgame. Losing a game does not amuse me as much these days as I am not the typical 'solid' chess player who hardly ever loses. In most of my tournaments I would have a bunch of wins and losses and only a very few draws. In fact, the chances of me finishing a tournament without a draw would be higher than finishing without a loss. Interestingly in this tournament I had several good positions that I was not able to convert into wins and as a result I ended up having a bunch of draws and unfortunately these draws did not come against higher rated players. After 8 rounds I had 5 points with 3 wins, 4 draws and 1 loss to Van Wely. I was losing some rating points and I felt I was having a slightly below par tournament. However, I finished strongly with two wins against IM Daniel Rensch (aka 'Papa Bear'!) and GM Josh Friedel (aka 'Panda'!) to bag clear third place in the tournament.


Even though there were some occasional mistakes here and there, I was satisfied with the quality of games in the tournament overall. Today I would like to share a game I played against Hungarian IM Istvan Sipos in round 6.





Everything looks good for white, but here I am at a crossroads and I have to make an important decision. Before we go on, let us try to study the position in detail.

White's advantage is his strong bishop on d5 that is attacking the weak f7 pawn, but black is threatening to move his king away after trading the dark squared bishop and then play f5. Although the black bishop on d3 is sitting in an outpost, it is not really creating any havoc in white's camp, so it can be left alone for some time. 

After considering these things I realized my advantage depends on how strongly I can control the f6 square to stop him from playing f5. To my opponent's credit, he was creating constant threats around the e3 pawn and the f5 idea not giving me enough time to either double up my rooks on the 'f' file or play g4 and g5. You can also try to spend a few minutes in this position and try to analyze all the options for white before you move on with the game.




The English opening again proved to be a good opening in my repertoire, hopefully our readers enjoy this game as much as I did playing it.

More from GM thamizhan
Deterring Scholastic Chess Cheating

Deterring Scholastic Chess Cheating

How to Improve your Calculation

How to Improve your Calculation