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Josh Annotates Edmonton Games Print E-mail
By GM-elect Josh Friedel   
September 6, 2008
GM-elect Josh Friedel, Photo Betsy Dynako
Ukrainian GM Alexander Moiseenko won the Edmonton International Chess Festival (July 31-August 4) with an undefeated 7/9 score.  In close 2nd was Alexander Shabalov with 6.5.  GM Ganguly from India and myself tied for 3rd with 5.5/9.  Other strong players included GM Mark Bluvshtein of Canada, GM Jesse Kraai from the US, and IMs Porper, Hungaski, and Gerzhoy.  The field was rounded out by strong juniors and local masters and experts.  While not category 26, it was a well-rounded, balanced field.  The tournament took place at the Edmonton Chess Club, which is near downtown of Alberta’s capital city.  The GMs stayed at this nice B&B about 6 blocks from the hotel, while most of the rest who weren’t local stayed at MacEwan Community College, which was about a mile and a half away.  Unfortunately this included me, as I’m not officially a GM yet.  Seriously though, the organizers were very accommodating to the players.  Even as an IM I got room and some expenses paid for, which is a lot more than at most tournaments I’ve played in.  Also they were very good at providing rides for the players when needed, as well as catering to other needs.  The playing site was also quite nice, and had everything provided for, including nice sets, clocks, recording materials, drinks (including coffee, thankfully), and snacks. 

Well not to worry, I’ll get to the chess soon enough.  First though, a bit on my getting there.  I figured Canada would be a simple enough place to get in to.  It was a mere 2.5 hour flight away from San Francisco, and the line for customs was nonexistent.  However, when I got up to the guy to give him my passport, he apparently thought I was a suspicious character.  I got sent to immigration, where the guy asked me a bunch of questions regarding criminal activity in the United States, had I ever been arrested for a crime, had I ever crossed the street without waiting for the walk sign, etc.  Then I had to show him my itinerary, which of course I forgot to print out, so I had to pull up my computer and get it from my email.  Finally, after about ten minutes, I was allowed to get into Canada.  At first I was mad because I thought they singled me out, but then I came out of the customs area and saw Alex Shabalov wearing a cast, and I realized it went a lot easier than it could have.           

Alright on to the chess.  Moiseenko won the tournament very nicely.  He had five wins and four draws, didn’t really come close to losing, and was pretty much the definition of a pro.  Despite this, Alex Shabalov has outdistanced such players before.  He came up half a point short this tournament, however.  He scored six wins, but lost two games as well, and was unable to catch the Ukrainian GM in the last round.  GM Surya Ganguly and myself took 3rd-4th, but it was definitely a disappointing performance for both of us.  In my case, I got several promising positions, but botched far too many to have a successful tournament.  A strong performance was also turned in by FM Raja Panjwani from Toronto.  Raja is one of Canada’s top talents, and really showed what he was capable of this tournament.  He started with 2.5/3, including a win over Shabalov and draw with me.  While he dropped back from the top of the standings, he finished with a respectable 5/9, and achieved his first IM norm.  If he continues to play like he did here I have no doubt the rest will come fairly soon.  Well, I’d say that’s enough out of me, on to some games.


The only game I saw in which GM Moiseenko was in trouble was his 2nd round game against Canadian Jr. Bindi Cheng.  He seemed fine after an odd opening, but then looked to be in trouble.  However, he defended extremely well, and was even pushing towards the end, forcing his opponent to find the right moves to draw.
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 c5 3.d5 Qb6 4.Nc3 Qxb2 5.Bd2 Qb6 6.e4 e5 7.f4 d6 8.f5 g6 9.Qf3 gxf5 10.Bb5+ Nbd7 11.exf5 a6 12.Be2 Rg8 13.Nh3 Qd8 14.a4 e4 15.Qf4 Rxg2 16.Ng5 Ne5 17.Kf1

17...Rxe2 18.Kxe2 Bh6 looks like it would have been a better exchange sac.
 18.Qxg5 Be7 19.Qf4 Qd7 20.Rb1 Ra7 21.Kg2 Qxf5 22.Rhf1 Qxf4 23.Bxf4 Ng6

23...Bd8 followed by b6 might have been better, allowing black's rook to get out.
 24.Bg3 h5
This is over-ambitious.
25.Rxf6! Bxf6 26.Nxe4 Be5 27.Nxd6+ Bxd6 28.Bxd6

 Now it is obvious white has a nice advantage, but can he win?
28...Bf5 29.Bxc5 Ra8 30.Rxb7 Rc8 31.Bb4
31.Bd6 is stronger, as it keeps black's knight at bay. 31...Rxc2 32.Kf1 Rd2 33.Bxa6 and the a-pawn will be extremely dangerous.
 31...Be4+ 32.Kf1 Bxd5 33.Ra7 Rxc2 34.Bxa6 Bc4+
 Now black gets a pair of bishops off, making his defensive job easier.
35.Bxc4 Rxc4 36.Rb7 Rc1+ 37.Kf2 Rc2+ 38.Kg3
 38.Kg1 might have been simpler.
 38...h4+ 39.Kh3 Rc4
Threatening Nf4+
 40.Kg2 Nf4+ 41.Kf3 Nd5 42.Be1 Rf4+ 43.Ke2 Rxa4 44.Rb5 Nf4+ 45.Kf3 Ng6 46.Rb4 Rxb4 47.Bxb4

Moiseenko tries very hard to win this, but it just isn't doable.
 47...f5 48.Bd2 Kf7 49.Bg5 Ke6 50.Bd8 Ke5 51.Bg5 Kd4 52.Bf6+ Kc4 53.Ke3 Kd5 54.Kf3 Ke6 55.Bd8 Kf7 56.Bg5 Kg7 57.Kf2 Kf8 58.Kg2 Kf7 59.Kh3 Ke6 60.Bxh4 Ke5 61.Bg3+ Ke4 62.Kg2 f4 63.Bxf4 Kxf4 ½–½


This was a key game in the tournament.  It brought Shabalov into the fight for first, and really dealt a blow to my tournament hopes.  It was a topsy-turvy game, with the advantage passing back and forth like a Frisbee.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Nd7 12.Nbd2 exd4 13.cxd4 Nc6 14.d5 Nce5 15.Nh2 Ng6 16.g3 Nf6 17.h4 Qd7
I prepared this idea awhile back, though it was a bit hazy in my mind during the game.  Shabalov, however, found an idea that basically refutes it.


18.a4!! Qh3 19.Bd3

This is the idea, he puts pressure on b5, and prepares to kick the queen with Bf1 at the same time.
 19...Ng4 20.Ndf3 Nxh2 21.Nxh2 c4 22.Bf1 Qd7
This is a desperate idea, but i couldn't think of anything else.
23.axb5 Qxb5 24.Re3?
24.f4 looked simplest to me, after which I have no idea what I'm doing.
 24...Bf6 25.f4 Qc5
 Now matters are complicated.
26.Qe1 Bd4
I really don't want to take this exchange, but at the time I didn't see an alternative. 26...Re8 looks like a safer alternative in retrospect, now for instance 27.h5 Nf8 28.Kh1 Bd4 and my knight on f8 is quite a bit better than on e7.
 27.h5 Ne7 28.Nf3 Bxe3+ 29.Bxe3 Qc7 30.h6
30.f5 looks like a better move order, as now I don't have the f5 resource as in the game.
 30...f5 31.hxg7 Re8 32.Qc3
32.Qe2 fxe4 33.Ng5 is what the computer likes, and looks very good for white.
Now matters aren't clear.
33.Nd4 Nf5 34.Nxf5 Bxf5 35.Bd4 Qf7

 and now I'm starting to pick up the initiative myself!
36.Bxc4 Qh5 37.b3 e3 38.Re1 e2
38...Be4 looks strong, but after 39.Rxe3 Qh1+ 40.Kf2 Qg2+ 41.Ke1 Bf3 42.Re6 it isn't so easy to win.
 39.Bf6 Be4 40.Bh4 Bxd5??
Here I just toss away the game in one move.  40...Rac8 and I should be winning without too much trouble.
41.Qa5 Rac8 42.Bxd5+ Kxg7 43.Qa1+ 1–0


The crucial match up between the top two heavyweights.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.Bd3 Be6 12.0–0 Bxd5 13.exd5 Ne7 14.Qh5 e4 15.Be2 Bg7 16.c3 0–0 17.Nc2 f4 18.f3 f5 19.fxe4 fxe4 20.Bg4 Kh8 21.Rae1 Be5 22.Be6 e3 23.g3 Qb6 24.Kh1 fxg3 25.hxg3 e2 26.Rf3 Rxf3 27.Qxf3 Ng6 28.Ne3 Rf8 29.Nf5 b4 30.c4 Qa5
The game has been insanely complicated thus far, unclear who was better.  Here, however, things start to go wrong for Shabalov.
31.Qb3 Ne7 32.g4 Qd8!
The switching flanks of the queen is a nasty idea.
33.Rxe2 Nxf5 34.gxf5 Qh4+ 35.Kg2 Qh2+ 36.Kf1 Qh1+ 37.Kf2 Bd4+ 38.Kg3 looks scary, but it is unclear how black can mate without his rook participating.
33...Ng6 34.Qh6 Nf4

Now black's dangerous passer is protected, and there are no mate threats.
35...Qb6+ 36.Kh1 Rb8 followed by penetrating with the queen would have ended white's life swiftly.  However, possibly due to time trouble, Moiseenko goes for an ending instead.
 36.Qxf6+ Rxf6 37.Kf2 Bxb2
This ending offers little hope to white, and Moiseenko mops up pretty easily.
38.Kf3 Bc3 39.Kxf4 Bxe1 40.Ke3 Bg3 41.Kxe2 Be5 42.Kd3 a5 43.Kc2 Rg6 44.Nh4 Rh6 45.Nf3 Bf4 46.g5 Rh1 47.Kb3 Rc1 48.Ka4 Rc3 49.Nd4 Ra3+ 50.Kb5 Rxa2 51.c5 dxc5 52.Kxc5 Be3 0–1


Panjwani played extremely well in Edmonton.  This game was very dramatic, with Shabalov better at first, then Raja, and finally Shabalov blundered into a lost king and pawn ending in time pressure.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g3 Bc5 5.Bg2 d6 6.d3 a6 7.0–0 Be6 8.h3 h6 9.Be3 Bxe3 10.fxe3 Ne7 11.Nh4 c6 12.Qe2 Qd7 13.Kh2 Nh7 14.Rf2 Ng5 15.Qf1 g6 16.d4 Qc7 17.Rd1 0–0 18.d5 cxd5 19.exd5 Bd7 20.Rf6 Kg7 21.Qf2 Bb5 22.Nxb5 axb5 23.Rf1 Qd8 24.Qe2 b4 25.Qb5 Ng8 26.R6f2 Rxa2 27.Qxb4 Qd7 28.Qb3 Ra4 29.Qd3 e4 30.Qc3+ f6 31.b3 Raa8 32.Qd4 b5 33.Rf4 Rac8 34.c4 bxc4 35.bxc4 h5 36.g4 hxg4 37.Rxg4 Kh7 38.Bxe4 Nxe4 39.Rxe4 Nh6 40.Re6 Qg7 41.Qd3 f5 42.Rg1 g5 43.Ng6 Rf6 44.Nf4 Rf7 45.Rg6 Qb2+ 46.Rg2 Qc1 47.R2xg5 Rxc4 48.Rg2 Rxf4 49.exf4 Qxf4+ 50.Kh1 Rc7 51.Qg3 Qxg3 52.R6xg3 f4 53.Rg5 f3 54.R2g3 Rc1+ 55.Rg1 Rc3 56.Kh2 Rd3 57.Kg3 Nf7 58.Rf5 Ne5 59.Kf4 Rd4+ 60.Ke3 Rh4 61.Rxe5
This sac doesn't seem to win, but it requires some precision to draw, not an easy thing in time pressure. 61.Rg3 is the easier way to win.
61...dxe5 62.Rd1 Kg7??
62...Rf4! 63.Kf2 63.d6 f2 64.d7 Rf8 65.Ke2 e4! 66.Kf1 e3 67.d8Q e2+ 68.Kxe2 f1Q+ draws. 63...Rf8 64.d6 e4 65.d7 Rd8 65...e3+
66.Kxe3 f2 67.Ke2 Kg6 68.Kf1 and wins.66.Rd6 Kg7 67.h4 Kf7 68.h5 Ke7 69.Rd1 Kf6 70.Ke3 Kf5 71.Rd5+ Ke6 72.Rd2 Kf5 and it isn't apparent how white can make progress.
63.d6 Rd4
 This loses immediately, but at this point it was lost anyway.
 64.Rxd4 exd4+ 65.Kxf3
The king can't handle both the h and d pawns. 1–0
Alex Shabalov took clear 2nd in the event.  Despite losing in the 2nd round to Panjwani, he managed to play some nice games, including this one against Santa Fe GM Jesse Kraai.

Here Moiseenko takes out the dangerous junior.

Moiseenko continued his run in round 5 by beating Canadian GM Mark Bluvshtein.