Pruess Wins Norm in France: Part II Print E-mail
By Josh Friedel   
March 23, 2007
Photo courtesy

by IM Josh Friedel

Part I of my Cappelle blogended on a sour note in which David and I both faltered in rounds 4 and 5. Things began to improve in round 6 when David won a complicated game against a 2100, though the result was never in too much doubt. Then he absolutely demolished GM Goloshchapov as White in yet another Rauzer. Why these people keep playing the Classical Sicilian against him is beyond my comprehension.

Black played yet another sideline of it, with an early Qb6 right after Bg5. David played the slightly unusual Bxf6, which he claims is slightly less accurate than Nb3. It worked out nicely though, as only five moves later he was totally winning. Black missed Qc3, with a killer attack on Black’s h8 rook to which he has no good response. In fact, his only move was to play f6, hanging a pawn that David didn’t even take! As I said before, David likes his pawns. If he’s sacrificing them something is up, but if he’s not taking them you can just resign, which his opponent did after his king was driven up the board. It is rare you will see GMs bite the dust like they did against David this tournament.

Instead of two wins, I had a couple draws, but I felt they were of reasonable quality. Round 6 I had Black against Belorussian GM Andrei Kovalev (not the hockey player people, that’s Alexei).

I had the Black side of a Lopez, and I decided to sac an exchange for a pawn, which resulted in a crazy ending. At first it looked like he was getting the better of it, but then he let it slip and his king was wandering all around the board. I couldn’t quite mate it though, and pretty soon I found my own king under fire. I guess we both need enhancements of some type though, cause he couldn’t mate me either. In the time scramble I thought I was getting the better of him until he hit me with a nasty tactic. Then once again I had to defend, which I did fairly well, and he conceded a draw soon after.

Next round was a bit higher in quality, yet lower in excitement. I was White against Chinese GM Ni Hua, my highest opponent of the tournament.

As White against the French I had what I thought was a good idea against a pet system of his, teasing a pinned knight on c5. He had the tactics to break out though, and suddenly I found myself worse. Once again though, I played tough defense, and soon I equalized and we drew.


So after seven rounds David was on a great track to his first GM norm, probably only needing .5 out of his next two. My own tournament wasn’t as killer, but 2-0 had a good chance of netting me my final norm. Round 8, however, was nothing either of us want to recall for a long time. How unfortunate I’m the one writing the article.

Anyway, in round eight David got paired with Macedonian, and many-time US visitor, GM Vladimir Georgiev.

On the black side of a triangle semi-slav he got a very comfortable position. For the next phase of the game David really showed his best chess. He completely outplayed Georgiev to reach a near-winning position. Unfortunately, then time pressure took its hold. He made a few mistakes, letting his advantage slip. Then for the 2nd time of the tournament made a completely inexplicable blunder, letting Georgiev skewer his bishops on the c-file.

Meanwhile, I was Black against 2300 #102391203982. I played very risky chess, and soon found myself in a shaky position. However, my opponent made a serious error, letting me sac a queen for a rook and piece. Not only did this turn my position from tough into completely dominating, but sacrificing makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, so it improved my psychological state also. Then I made an inexplicable blunder of my own.

There are three types of people in the world, those who can count and those who can’t. It turns out I’m the 3rd option. I had a tactic which would have netted a queen and bishop for two rooks. However, I somehow didn’t count properly, as I only thought I'd only get me a queen. Anyway, even after that travesty, my position was still pretty nice. Though he was up material, my pieces were completely owning his. The problem was that I had to give him a bit of activity to try to convert. I gave myself a pep talk before doing so. OK Josh, don’t overestimate your position, allow too much play, or push too hard going for the win. I did all three. I underestimated a resource he had, after which the position was just crazy. Then I went nuts trying to win when I should have taken one of the million perps I had. It was a pretty sad day for the US squad, as Ricky lost also. That night David spent most of it clutching his head and making a pained face, Ricky drank lots of wine, and I kept counting to ten, ensuring I could still do it. So my norm chances were out, but a draw for David would still clinch his GM norm.

He got White, which was a good start, being his favorite of the two colors (or is it three, I can never be sure now?). His opponent was GM Csaba Balogh of Hungary. Balogh wasn’t having the greatest tournament, but anyone over 2600 FIDE can’t be all terrible. As a nice bonus though, it appeared that David would get his 4th rauzer of the event! He looked as if the norm was a big slab of meat in front of him, waiting to be devoured. Or in David's case, a big piece of bread, but you get the idea. In any case, he was unpleasantly surprised when he got a Paulsen instead.

He tried playing a system of mine against it, but failed miserably, achieving less than nothing out of the opening. He defended well though, reaching an approximately equal position. Balogh, however, wasn’t satisfied. He went to extreme lengths to complicate the position, sacrificing an exchange and weakening his king position. For a minute I thought I got the colors wrong when looking over the game. Then later he sacrificed ANOTHER exchange. The guy just wouldn’t back down. It ended up to his peril though, as soon he was fighting for his life. The position in which a draw was agreed was winning for David, though still required some precise moves. So not only was it the game that got him is norm, but probably the only one of his career where he agreed to a draw in something other than K vs. K.

Round eight really took the life out of me, and my round nine game was very sloppy. I got a nice position against a 2200, but miscalculated a king and pawn endgame horribly, thinking it was won for me when in fact it was a draw. Turns out I can’t count tempi either.

It was not one of my greatest tournaments, but a very memorable one. It was quite something to see all those strong chessplayers in one place, and from so many different countries. We hung out a lot with the Chinese contingent of Wang Yue (one of the tournament winners), Ni Hua, and Wang Hao. Away from the board they are so much like kids it is easy to forget they are 2600 GMs. I’d like to congratulate Jon Ludwig Hammer, the crazy Norweigan kid, on his final IM norm and first GM norm. Also, congrats to Slovak WGM Eva Repkova on her final IM norm. Try not to lose your certificate this time.

Well, I think I should stop before you fall asleep, if you haven’t already. However, if you need more material to help with your sleep, I’ll most certainly be writing about future escapades of IMs Pruess and Friedel.