Forcing Moves, Part 2

Forcing Moves, Part 2‎

GM BryanSmith
15 | Middlegame

Last week I showed an interesting moment from my game against IM Goran Vojinovic in the Cleveland Open. In this follow-up article, we will see the entire game, which was a fascinating battle.

I set off for this tournament Friday morning before it began. This was a kind of tournament I hadn’t played in for a long time – a five round, weekend tournament for big money. I used to go to these tournaments all the time, driving ten, twelve hours to some location in the Midwest or South. However, I hadn’t obviously been doing this for a while, since I was living in Serbia and playing in a different kind of tournament in Europe.

Before the tournament, my financial situation was very dire. I was spending my last few dollars for the travel and hotel expenses of the tournament. And by last few dollars, I mean last few dollars of available credit. I considered not going, figuring that the pressure of playing in this situation would be too much, but in the end I decided to go.

Big traffic jams caused by poorly planned construction on the highway caused me to barely arrive before the first round. After driving for eight hours almost without pause you are pretty much in a trance, which meant that even though the first round would be a big mismatch, I still had to be careful. Although my 2100-rated opponent did not play too badly, I did manage to win. The next day I won both games – in the morning against another 2100, and in the evening I managed to beat GM Sergei Kudrin in a nice game. That was a good day, since both games were very aesthetic. I didn’t know what would happen going into the last two rounds of the tournament. I was going to play IM Goran Vojinovic in the morning, and then somebody else in the evening. The $2000 first prize, which I would probably get if I could manage to score 1.5/2, would make a huge difference in my life. Even a tie for first (i.e. if I score 1/2) would be a big thing. Nevertheless, I have a tendency to create tragedies for myself. I hoped that such a thing would not happen.

My opponent, IM Vojinovic, is a very strong and experienced international master from Serbia. He lives part of the time in the U.S., working as a chess teacher. I have played him both here in the U.S. and also in Skopje (the capital of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia). As you might know, I had up until recently been living in my opponent’s home country. In fact, in an earlier round Vojinovic had borrowed my set of chess pieces and noticed that they were the same ones which were sold by my friend, GM Sinisa Drazic! I had won them as part of my prize in a small tournament he organized back in Serbia.

The game was a really fascinating and complicated game, so I thought you might find it entertaining. It certainly was not without some mistakes.

After this game, Goran and I were tied for first. However, he was playing GM Sergei Kudrin with black (I had already played Kudrin!) and I was playing my friend FM Carl Boor with white. Although on paper it looks like a great situation for me, I knew that Carl had made a lot of progress recently and was in great form, having just won the under 2400 section of the World Open and the open section of the Chicago Class Championships. Thus the situation called for me to play safely - a draw would ensure a tie for first. However, there was no question of a quick draw, because he had a half point less and needed to win. Nevertheless, very soon in the game an endgame was reached where there was no chance for me to lose and probably I should have won. Unfortunately I made many mistakes and it finally ended in a draw. Kudrin beat Vojinovic to tie with me for first, and another player, John Miller, also tied for first, having lost to Vojinovic in round one and then won four games. Thus the last day was slightly disappointing - since I had missed good chances to win both games - but still overall I could be happy with the tournament. 

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