Lenderman Gaining European Experience Print E-mail
By Macauley Peterson   
October 27, 2011
Lendermanlead.jpg Since the start of his Samford Fellowship this past summer, Aleksandr Lenderman has been busy. In July and September alone he logged
75 tournament games! We crossed paths first in early July at the Amsterdam Science Park tournament, where Lenderman finished in a five-way tie for first. He then played the Dutch Open in Dieren before returning Stateside in time for the U.S. Open.

The Netherlands is an easy country for a solo traveler to use as an introduction to Europe. It's straightforward to navigate, English is almost universally spoken, and the people are friendly -- chess players especially so.

I was more surprised to discover Aleksandr among the GMs in the Bilbao Chess Masters Final International Open. While Carlsen, Anand, Nakamura and co., were slugging it out under public scrutiny inside the glass cube, Lenderman was quietly winning his way to first prize less than a hundred meters away, with a final score of 6.5 out of 8.

In the last round, trailing the leaders by half a point, Lenderman decided to go all-out with black, calculating that a draw would do him little good in the standings. Facing Spanish GM Juan Mario Gomez Esteban, Lenderman sprung the Dutch Defense for the first time in his life, and reached the following position after his 11...e6-e5?!

Position after 11...e5

Notes by A. Lenderman
On one hand [11...e5] is a losing move -- objectively bad. However, the alternative, 11...Bxc3 12.Qxc3 Qc6 cannot promise me more than a draw even in the most dramatic scenario.
12. Be3
Here already on move 12 he could've gotten a winning position with 12. Nd5! Qa5+ 13. Bd2 Qxd5 14. Qxg6+ Qf7 (14... Kf8 15. Qxh7 Qxg2 16. Bh6 Qxh1 17. Qxg7+ and black will soon be mated. 15. Qxh7 Bf5 playing for compensation being down a pawn and an exchange. He told me after the game he wasn't sure about this position, but in fact the material advantage is too big and he consolidates and should win easily. But either way that was my only chance, because I do have some activity.
12...Qc6 (12... Bf5!) 13. Nf3 Bf5 14. Qb3 Be6 15. Qc2 Bf5 16. Qb3 Be6 17. Qc2
Position after 17. Qc2

Now I played, 17...Bc4 even though it wasn't as good, since a draw was not an option. And here white made another critical error with, 18. b3? losing a tempo and weakening the long diagonal.
18...e4! 19. Nd4 Bd3!
This resource might have been missed by my opponent, and given that my opponent already used up most of his time, and the position was still unclear, and now even more difficult for him to play, the game soon went my way in an endgame, where he also missed some equalizing chances. So I got very lucky in this game, and that's not to mention that in my two draws in this tournament I was losing in one move in both games. 0-1

Just a few days later, back in Holland, Lenderman started the 15th Univé Open, a traditional tournament in Hoogeveen, which includes a parallel "crown group," won this year by Vladimir Kramnik. A highlight of the town of Hoogeveen is its glass museum, and participants in the tournament used to play on a special chess set made of glass, which still features in the event's decor. Perhaps Lenderman enjoys a glass-themed backgroup! I neglected to ask him about that, but just after the final round we spoke briefly about his ongoing, and more extensive, European adventure.

Lenderman is remarkably circumspect and modest, almost to a fault. For instance, he discouraged me from writing about one of his wins, lest he should appear as a "show-off" to CLO readers. Fortunately, his last round loss (which you can review below with Lenderman's annotations) was both interesting and crucial to the tournament standings. This time on board one with a half point lead over his opponent, the rating-favorite Sergei Tiviakov, Lenderman could be satisfied with a draw. For a long time the game remained equal, but the veteran Tiviakov gradually gained the upper hand and converted the endgame smoothly. After a brief post-mortem, Lenderman explained how the game illustrated a larger problem in his play.

AL: His bishop was better than mine. I have a weakness -- I tend to underestimate the power of bishops. I don't really feel them very well. I often end up with bad bishops and often end up with opponents having good ones.

MP: How do you go about addressing that?

AL: It's very difficult. You just have to keep learning by experience. And that's why I have a coach -- Giorgi Kacheishvili -- who's a much better positional player than me. And that's why I'm gonna work at some point in my life with some classical players to improve on that. You just have to see more and more of these positions and play more and more and not get discouraged and just keep going at it. OK, it's a tough loss, but you know, good for Tiviakov. He's a professional, and he needs the money and he deserved it. You don't win everything, at least I'm not that good a player yet to win everything.

MP: Are you in touch with Georgi during the trip?

AL: We spoke yesterday about how to approach [the Tiviakov game], and in fact the funny thing is, he told me, "don't let him play for two results." But it's difficult -- it's much more easy to say than to do it.

I was looking at ways to make it more complicated, but the way he played the opening, I couldn't navigate the way to do it, even though I spent a lot of time in the opening. I battled as hard as I could in the endgame, I managed the time -- I really did the best I could. It's just sometimes it's not meant to be...Sometimes the other guy deserves it more than you.

MP: How is it being so long away from home?

AL: It's not really "away from home," it's like home -- I'm staying with my relatives [in Solingen, Germany]. It's a house, just like our house. I've visited there when I was a child. In fact that's where I learned first how to play chess when I was ten from my grandpa -- my mom's dad. He lives there, and it's been five or six years since I've seen them, so it's a perfect opportunity for me to see them, and also to play these good tournaments now that I have the fellowship.

MP: He must be immensely proud of you to see you doing this trip.

AL: He's definitely happy for my success, and I try to do the best I can in every tournament.

MP: Yes, but when he taught you how to play he never could have imagined you'd become a grandmaster.

AL: Life's unpredictable. You never know what's going to happen. I have aspirations for more. If I stay at this level I probably should be a chess trainerinstead of a player. I have to learn how to play better of course.

Later this week, Lenderman heads to the open tournament in Bad Wiessee, Germany, in the mountains south of Munich, the next stop on his Fall tour, which will continue into December.

Lenderman annotates his game against Tiviakov for CLO readers.
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. Nh3 Nf6 7. Bc4 e6 8.Nf4 Bd6 9. c3 Nbd7 10. Qf3 Qc7 11. O-O e5 12. Nxg6 hxg6 13. Bb3 O-O 14. Be3 exd4 15. Bxd4
Position after 15.Bd4

This move Sergey was very critical of, saying this move weakens the d5 square and makes your bishop bad. However, after looking at this game more closely, with the computer, I think this move is acutally not so bad, and the position isn't +/- positionally as he thought it was :) In fact the computer even says it's a bit better for Black! :)}
16. Bxf6 Nxf6 17. Bc4 Rfe8 18. Rfd1 Rad8 19. a4 b6 20. Rd3 Be7?
Position after 20....Be7

This I think is a mistake. Now indeed, everything Sergey said turned out true. My bishop became bad and because his knight was alive, the d5 square became important. 20...Bxg3 was asking to be played. How primitive do we humans think though? :) Why unnecessarily give up the "good bishop" for the "bad knight, especially in the open game? That's why you have to always look at things in prospects rather than only immediately. 20... Bxg3 21. hxg3 Re7 and I trade off all the rooks and I have no real weaknesses. I shouldn't really be worse and if any worse, than only minimally, not even +/=.

21. Nf1! Rxd3 22. Qxd3 Qf4 23.Re1 Rd8 24. Qe2
Position after 24.Qe2

Of course not 24... Bf8?? 25. Bxf7+ Almost played it actually :)
25. Bb5!

Keeping control of the e8 square.
25...Qg4 26. f3 Qc8 27.Ne3 Qe6 28. Nc4 Qxe2 29. Rxe2 Bf4 30. g3 Rd1+ 31. Kg2 Bd6 32. Nxd6!?

White had a good alternative in 32. a5 bxa5 33. Nxa5 with a solid advantage in the endgame, due to a better pawn structure and better pieces. But needing a win, White went for complications.
32... Rxd6 33. Re7 Rd2+ 34. Kh3 Rxb2 35. Rxa7 Rb3 36. Rxf7!  Rxc3
I had a chance to go into a rook endgame or a knight vs. bishop endgame, both down a pawn, but I am likely lost in both, though not so clear [and] interesting to analyze.
37. Rb7 Rxf3 38. Rxb6 Ra3 39. Ra6 Kh7 40.a5 g5 41. Ra8
Position after 41. Ra8

The fatal mistake. After that I don't think I had good chances. The loss of a tempo turned out to be fatal. g4+! had to be played.
42. a6 g4+ 43.Kg2
Now that the pawn is on a6 compared to being on a5 in the other variation, I don't quite have time to create counterplay.
43...Nd5 44. Rd8 Ra2+ 45. Kg1 Ra1+46. Kf2 Ra2+
I was still optimistic here, maybe that's why I played g6 without fear, but in fact I'm already lost.
47. Ke1 Nc3 48. Bc4 Ra1+ 49. Kf2

Position after 49. Kf2

The a-pawn is too strong and a bishop is stronger than a knight in these cases.
49...Kh6 50. Rd7! Nd1+ 51. Ke2 Nb2 52. Bb5 c4 53. Rc7 {One of many wins.} Ra2 54. Ke3 Ra5 55. a7 c3 56. Kd4 c2 57. Rxc2 Na4 58. Ra2 Rxa7 59. Rxa4 Re7 60. Bd3 Re1 61. Ra6 Rh1 62. Rxg6+ Kh5 63. Rg8 Kh6 64. Rh8+ Kg5 65. Be2 Ra1 66. Rg8+ Kh6 67. Rxg4 1-0

Macauley Peterson was in Hoogeveen recording an interview with Judit Polgar, which airs on The Full English Breakfast podcast this week on iTunes and at www.TheFEB.com. Also, watch your mailboxes for his eight page feature on Hikaru Nakamura, "The Spirit of St. Louis", in the November issue of New in Chess magazine.