Stowaway on Mt. Olympus, Or My USCF Blitz Battle w/ GM Tigran Petrosian
This last weekend, I did a 530-mile round trip for the sole purpose of playing in the Chicago Open’s blitz tournament. I’ve been playing excellent blitz lately, having knocked off a titled player in Missouri, icing a few Experts in NYC/NJ, ousting a hustler in NYC, and placing second in a blitz tournament at the St. Louis Chess Club. Chicago was slated to be my big breakthrough, being as my USCF blitz rating sat at a meager 1618. Things started off almost as well as they could, but the tournament went down the tubes for me, because the tournament extended 3 hours past the time it was supposed to end. There was some sort of software crash, and the USCF president, Bill Goichberg, had to get the pairings done by hand –not an easy task with probably 100 players, many of which were not cooperative in posting their results (or doing so accurately). That was a problem for me, because I am very regimented in my 10pm (Eastern Time!) bedtime, and I had adjusted my schedule to align with the likely midnight (Central Time!) at which the tournament was to end. What quite literally could have been a 2100-level performance rating ended up with me going 5.0/10.0. No big deal. With blitz it’s easy go easy come, and I’ll have plenty of opportunities soon enough. In the first two rounds, though, I played some of my best chess. I’ll just jump to the two games in round two and work toward round one. Round two was against GM Tigran Petrosian. (No clue who the photo-bomber is.)
Tigran is the second GM I’ve played in the past few months. I blogged about my excellent game against in South Miami GM Sandro Pozo Vera (2500, Cuba) here. I played a solid game out of the Dutch in that one. Against GM Petrosian, the first game was a tactical slugfest in which Petrosian gave up his Q for a R, B, and a P. Here’s the position before the critical exchange. (White/Tigran to move, and I apologize if there are any inaccuracies in the position, but it was blitz, and it seems to be correct, as the exchange GM Petrosian chose leaves him with an edge, though not the best idea in the position. It also suggests Tigran was just unwinding with a bit of fun after a bit of a tough Chicago Open game.)
The game came out of a Sicilian Levenfish Attack, I think… I can’t be sure, because I don’t know much of anything about the openings I play, not even the names of many of the variations. Of course, I had seen this non-sense of e4 and f4, with the white Q moving from d1-e1-h4 many times in blitz and bullet. I have no clue what theory suggests black do about it, but I had a stock idea I had created, which did okay for me: wait until all of white’s forced were on the K-side, position everything I had on the K-side, then 0-0-0, and go after him. Yes, I went after GM Petrosian. You can’t have a puncher’s chance unless you throw a punch or two. He played probably the best responses to my requited non-sense, but it took him time to see what to do, whereas I had some idea about what to do in the labyrinth. In the end, I made a tactical mistake, and his excellent piece coordination forced me down a piece, and then he hit a spectacular mate in the middle of the board.
In game two, he played some g6 fianchetto system, maybe a Pirc or modern thingy-ma-do. Anyways, he got up a pawn pretty early, but I’m not convinced I was without compensation, as I used the pawn loss to pick up tempi and control the e-file. Unfortunately, GM Petrosian showed that my control of the e-file was contestable, and forced liquidation into an ending where I was down a pawn in a N+6P vs N+5P ending. The game went 50-60 moves, so I can be nothing less than satisfied with the performance. Whether Petrosian was tired from a long round of the Chicago main event, hardly paying attention, or took me lightly, or all of the above, I’m still pleased to be in it and kicking with the best in the world. I half joke with a friend, who happens to be a National Master, that being featured on the losing side of a game on a Fritz Trainer is not such a bad lot in life (as this particular NM was), because some amount of tension needs to be supplied by the losing side that makes the game either instructive or beautiful. One day… The Titans were once on Mt. Olympus, and even involved in the greatest battle to take place there, but they happened to be on the losing end against the Olympians. People don’t remember this about the Titans, they just remember the Titans, and I find that much admirable. I’m glad to have –let’s say– “warmed-up” GM Petrosian for his blitz battle with Carlsen. (White to move, and, of course, I played Kf2 and blunder away the whole game, feeling just an inkling of time trouble.)
Well, I also had a winning position against a 2300, where I flagged. It just took me a little too long to get the position I wanted. Below is the final position, which contains, I think, and easy win. To be fair, I was losing by a little in every phase of the game, but I showed my prowess in the ending, where I was down a pawn, but found the winning idea of K activity. Believe me, my K was like Adrian Peterson running up field, while my opponent manipulated his N to help advance his passer. My N was already where it needed to be, and his K was behind of where it needed to be. I think I was a tempo fast enough to win… if I had an extra 30 seconds. No big whoop. My coaches, GM Miljkovic and GM Yudasin, say that I will knock off my first high-rated titled player in an ending, and I’m beginning to believe them. (White to move.)
Ousted from Mt. Olympus, I return to the lands of mortals. But, as the American Caesar once said, “I came through, and I shall return!”