Neglecting Chess Principles

Neglecting Chess Principles

Now that we're done with the Pogonina vs Chess.com game, I would like to share with you some impressions and games from the last tournament I have been playing in, the Russian Club Cup in Dagomys. Chess.com has been providing nice updates on the event, but here's a reminder anyway. This tournament is arguably the strongest national chess league in the world, which attracts most Russian top players, as well as many foreign guests. The men's division had about 1/3 of all the 2700+ players in the world, while the women's event was also far from weak. Here is the list of participants, including some big names.

Our team, AVS, boasted an average rating of 2500+, and was a clear rating favorite to win the Cup. In fact, last year we tied for 1st with Spartak Vidnoe, but they had a better tie-break. This time we were very optimistic about our chances. On a separate note: as you all know, the rating favorite doesn't always win (otherwise we would have seen both Russian teams on top at every World Team Championship, Olympiad, etc.). A lot depends on the team's atmosphere, and understanding between the members. I can't complain in this respect since our team was very friendly and supportive. However, the first few rounds somehow became a true nightmare for us!

In the first round AVS (average rating 2507) was to face the biggest underdog in the field - Dvorets (average rating 2294). That is an incredible rating difference, so the question was not if we would win or not, but how many board points we would "present" (if at all) to our competitors. 

I traveled to Dagomys with Nikolai (many of you already know this super-baby, thanks to my and David Pruess' articles). My chess was very rusty (having missed half a year of practice, then played a few games at the Russian Superfinal before withdrawing due to health issues, then again a few months of lack of practice). The general tip for such a situation is to play it safe, stay out of complications, don't spend too much time thinking. Quite the opposite of what I did. My opponent, a young and gifted Georgian player Nazi Paikidze, who burst into the adult chess scene by winning the elite Moscow Open this year, managed to nicely capitalize on my mistakes while playing White.

First of all, let's take a look at a few critical positions of the game and see if you will be able to handle them.

 

Puzzle #1

 

 


Puzzle #2

 

 

 

Puzzle #3

 

 

 

Puzzle #4

 

 

 

Puzzle #5

 

 

 

Puzzle #6

 

 

 

Here is the full game with annotations:

So, our team lost 2,5-1,5 to opponents who made only one draw in the subsequent rounds. Quite a nice start, isn't it?

To be continued...

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