Bulletins April 2022

© New Zealand Chess Federation Inc 2022

Download games as PGN here

Wellington Open Impressions

by Bill Forster

The Wellington Open was played again over Easter weekend 15th-17th April 2022 and won by Nic Croad. All the results and a raw PGN of the games are available on the Results page. Working the games desk at the tournament, I saw at first hand a lot of the chess. This is not a definitive selection of the best moments in the tournament, just a selection of snippets that made the biggest impression on me. Any players who want to add their impressions or annotate a game or two, please send it in and I will add it.

We start with some astonishing tactics from Clinton Wells.

De Maupeou d'Ableige, Alexandre - Wells, Clinton A

Wellington Open 2022

Moves are clickable

35...Rxf3!! Winning a piece in style  36.b5 ( Of course not 36.Kxf3 Bd5# ) 36...Rd3 37.a6 Ra8 38.b6 Maybe White is still winning, a 6th rank phalanx supported by two rooks is one of the most fearsome sights in chess  38...Rxa6 Is this possible?  39.b7!? Going for the win (39.Rxa6 Bxa6 40.b7 Bxb7+ 41.Rxb7+ is good enough to draw ) 39...Bd5+! Black has a series of only moves that turn the tables again  40.f3 Rxf3! 41.Kh2


Now White's king seems safe and there's no stopping the b pawn any more.  41...Rxa1! 42.b8=Q Rf2+!!


Completing a miracle, White has gained a queen and now a rook, but loses his king (42...Rf2+ 43.Rxf2 Rh1# ) 0-1

Next some classy endgame technique from Felix Xie.

Xie, Felix - Hall, Nathan

Wellington Open 2022

1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg2 O-O 6.O-O Nbd7 7.Nbd2 dxc4 8.Nxc4 c5 9.dxc5 Nxc5 10.Be3 Nd5 11.Bxc5 Bxc5 12.Qb3 Qe7 13.Nfe5 Bd4 14.Rfd1 Bxe5 15.Nxe5 Rd8 16.Rac1 a5 17.Rd4 Bd7 18.Nxd7 Rxd7 19.Bxd5 exd5 20.Rxd5 h6 21.e3 Rc7 22.Rxc7 Qxc7 23.Rb5 Qc1+ 24.Kg2 Qc6+ 25.Qd5 Qxd5+ 26.Rxd5

Moves are clickable

Converting a pawn up rook and pawn ending is not easy for most players but Felix makes it look like child's play. He has already gained the important advantage of a more active rook.  26...Kf8 27.Rd7 Rb8 28.Kf3 g5 Trying to get air for his king, but now there are holes for the White king to invade  29.Ke4 Kg7 30.Kf5 b5 31.e4 Only after getting all pieces ideally placed is the pawn majority advanced  31...Rc8 32.Rd2 Simple chess. Felix elects to prevent any counterplay.  32...Rc4 33.f4 gxf4 34.gxf4 a4 35.h4 b4 36.h5 Rc5+ 37.e5 Felix's king supports the advancing majority, and the advancing majority shields the king from checks. Good players achieve harmony like this naturally, the rest of us often have to labour  37...Rc4 38.Rd7 Timing. A new queen (or mate) is now only a few tempi away, so it's okay to allow Black the illusion of some counterplay on his seventh rank.  38...Kf8 39.Ra7 Rc2 40.Rxa4 Rxb2 41.Kf6 Kg8 42.Ra8+ Kh7 43.Ra7 b3 44.axb3 Rxb3 Black didn't achieve anything from his temporary activity, the end is now very near  45.Rxf7+ Kh8 46.f5 Continuing the advance and shield pattern  46...Rg3 47.e6


47...Rg7! Bravo! When I was entering the game during the tournament, this came as a shock. Has Black gone mad? No it's a stalemate invitation. Worth a crack Nigel.  48.e7 Rxf7+ 49.Kxf7 Kh7 Black's only legal move also serves as a second stalemate invitation  50.e8=B A nice joke, although perhaps simply f5-f6 with mate in two might have been more principled:-)  50...Kh8 51.Kg6 Kg8 52.f6 Kf8 53.Ba4 Kg8 54.f7+ 1-0

A nice finish from Ryan Winter

Winter, Ryan - Ashton, Matthew

Wellington Open 2022

Moves are clickable

At first glance an inexperienced player might imagine this endgame to be reasonably well balanced. Actually it's a routine exhibition of how a knight will completely outclass a really bad bishop in a closed position. The computer suggests a bunch of moves, with evaluations of +15 pawns and more. But a computer doesn't understand finesse or beauty. Ryan's move is much much better than the computer's main suggestions because it has those special qualities  41.Nf1! The king is already poised to marshall the h pawn through, so it stays put and instead the knight is used to control h5 from g3. That will obviously cost Black his bishop, and the elegant point is that Bxf1 allows the pawn through untouched. So Black resigns.  1-0

Ryan also produced an impressive example of so called 'Spanish Torture'.

Winter, Ryan - Sole, Michael D

Wellington Open 2022

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.Qe2 Be7 5.O-O O-O 6.c3 d6 7.Rd1 a6 8.Ba4 b5 9.Bc2 Re8 10.d3 h6 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.Nf1 d5 13.Ng3 g6 14.h3 Bg7 15.a4 b4 16.a5 Bd7 17.Nf1 bxc3 18.bxc3 Na7 19.Ne3 Nb5 20.Bb2 dxe4 21.dxe4 Nh5 22.c4 Na7 23.Nd5 Qc8 24.Ba4 Bxa4 25.Rxa4 Nc6 26.Bc3 Nf6 27.Qe3 Nxd5 28.cxd5 Na7 29.Rc4 Qd7 30.Rc1 Nb5 31.Bb2 Rab8 32.R1c2 Rb7 33.Rc6 Ra7 34.Qc1

Moves are clickable

The so called Alekhine's gun, tripled major pieces with the Queen at the back  34...Kh7 35.Qa1 f6 36.Qc1 Qd8 37.Qe3 Bf8 38.Nh4 Bd6 39.Bc1 Bf8 40.Qg3 g5 41.Nf5 Nd6 42.Qf3 Be7 43.Ba3 Qd7 44.Bxd6 cxd6 45.Qh5 Bf8 46.Kh2 Rd8 47.Qe2 Rda8 48.R2c3 Kg6 49.Qc2 And again  49...Rb7 50.Rc7 Rxc7 51.Rxc7 Qb5 52.Ng3 Qxa5 53.Rb7 Qd8 54.Qe2 Be7 55.Qh5+ Kg7 56.Nf5+


'White square Leukaemia' is an apposite phrase I saw in and old Batsford Opening book recently 1-0

Joshua Langford had a good tournament, almost scoring a rare Dive / Ker IM double, almost unheard of for a New Zealand junior. First Russell's narrow escape.

Dive, Russell J - Langford, Joshua

Wellington Open 2022

1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Bg2 Bc5 4.Nc3 a6 5.e3 d6 6.Nge2 Ba7 7.d4 exd4 8.exd4 Nge7 9.O-O O-O 10.h3 Nf5 11.d5 Ne5 12.b3 Re8 13.Bb2 Qg5 14.Ne4 Qd8 15.Qc2 Ne7 16.Kh2 Bf5 17.g4

Moves are clickable

17...Bxg4!? Josh decides he is not going to die wondering against his wily and redoubtable opponent  18.hxg4 ( So ofter the computer shows us that we should consider alternatives to routine recapturing 18.N2g3! is a brilliant computer idea - treat Black's last as an unwise pawn grab and launch a vicious winning counterattack for White! Eg  18...Bf5 19.Nf6+ gxf6 20.Nxf5 Nxf5 21.Qxf5 Qd7 22.Qf4 with a winning attack against the weakened Black monarch ) 18...Nxg4+ 19.Kg1 Nf5 20.Nf4 Qh4 21.Nh3


21...Ng3? Looks good, but not the best way forward ( Instead 21...Nge3!! wins  22.fxe3 (22.Qd3 Nxg2 23.Kxg2 Rxe4 with two extra pawns and an overwhelming attack ) 22...Nxe3 23.Qe2 Nxg2+ 24.Kxg2 Rxe4


This way White has rough material equality but the Black attack is so strong that the path to victory is not narrow, eg  25.Qf3 f6 26.Nf4 Rae8 27.Ne6 R8xe6 28.dxe6 Rg4+ wins ) 22.Nxg3 Qxg3 23.Rfe1 f5 24.Re6? (24.Qc3! ) 24...Rxe6 25.dxe6 f4? Missing another win (25...Bxf2+ 26.Nxf2 Qh2+ 27.Kf1 Ne3+ ) 26.Qe2 (26.Qc3! is again best ) 26...Bxf2+


Black is still doing very well, but White is clinging on and now the path to victory is narrow. It's easy to sit with a computer and point out wins in such circumstances, but it's a little unrealistic to be fair  27.Nxf2 Qh2+ 28.Kf1 Ne3+ 29.Ke1 Qxg2 30.Kd2 Re8 31.Nd3 Qe4 ( The complications are more favourable after either 31...Rxe6 ) ( or 31...g5 ) 32.Qf2 Rxe6 33.Qxf4 Qg2+ 34.Qf2 Qg5 35.Rg1 Nxc4+ 36.Kc2 Re2+? The last mistake (36...Ne3+ Keeps things interesting ) 37.Qxe2 Ne3+ 38.Kd2 1-0

Anthony was not so lucky.

Ker, Anthony F - Langford, Joshua

Wellington Open 2022

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.c3 Qc7 6.Ne2 Bg4 7.f3 Bd7 8.Bf4 e5!

Moves are clickable

Josh confirmed he had prepared seriously for the game. The engine and the database stats favour Black here  9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.Bc2 Nf6 11.O-O Bd6 12.Nd4 O-O-O 13.Nd2? Nh5 14.Bg5 f6 15.f4 Ng4 16.Nf5 Bc5+ 17.Kh1 Nf2+ 18.Rxf2 Bxf2 19.Qxh5 fxg5 20.Qxg5 Black is a clean exchange up  20...d4 21.Ne4 dxc3 22.bxc3 h6 23.Nfd6+ Kb8 24.Qe7 Bc5 25.Rb1 Bxd6 26.Nxd6 Bc6!


Resolving White's rather desperate complication attempts and simplifying into a winning ending  27.Qxc7+ Kxc7 28.Nf7 Rd2 29.Nxh8 Rxg2 30.h4 Rxc2+ 31.Kg1 Rg2+ 32.Kf1 Rxa2


Black has an extra pawn, well placed pieces and a compact pawn structure. White as scattered passive pieces and broken pawns. Now it's a matter of technique, as they say  33.Re1 Bb5+ 34.Kg1 Re2 35.Rb1 Bc4 36.Ra1 a6 37.Ng6 Rc2 38.Ra3 Kd6 39.Ne5 Bb5 40.Rb3 Kc5 41.c4 Bc6 42.Rg3 a5 This pawn has no opposing pawns or pieces impeding it from promotion, this makes for a simple winning plan  43.Rxg7 a4 44.Rg3 Kb4 45.Nd3+ Kxc4 46.Ne5+ Kb4 47.Nd3+ Kb3! White doesn't have a useful discovery, so Black forges ahead  48.f5 a3 49.f6 Be8 50.Re3 Bf7 51.Ne5+ Kb2 Credit to Anthony who has managed to activate his pieces and create an advanced pawn himself, but ultimately he has always been behind in the race. And so we head to the final phase.  52.Rxa3 Kxa3 53.Nxf7 Rc6 54.Nd8 Rxf6 55.Nxb7 Rf4 56.Nd6 Rxh4 57.Kg2


R+P v N is not trivial. The most famous example is Lasker v Lasker, New York 1924, where World Champion Emanuel held the draw against his distant cousin Edward. Josh was not familiar with that game. Kids these days. Anthony could be considered New Zealand's Emanuel Lasker, nobody in New Zealand chess is stronger in endgames or more resourceful in a bad position   57...Kb4 58.Kg3 Rh5 59.Nf7 Kc4 60.Kg4 Rh1 61.Nd6+ Kd5 62.Nf5 Ke5 63.Ng3 Rg1 64.Kf3 Ra1 65.Kg4 Ra6 66.Kh5 Kf4 67.Ne2+ Ke3 68.Ng3 Kf4 69.Ne2+ Kf3 70.Nd4+ Ke4 71.Ne2 Rb6 72.Ng3+ Kf4 73.Ne2+ Kf3 74.Nd4+ Ke4 75.Ne2


It doesn't look as if Black has been making any progress, but Josh, operating on increment only, now reveals he has a winning plan  75...Rb3! What's this? Black gives up his precious pawn.  76.Kxh6 Re3 The knight and king are too far apart and there's no way to reunite them  77.Nc1 Kd4 78.Kg5 Kc3 79.Na2+ Kb3 80.Nc1+ Kc2 81.Kf4 Re8 82.Na2 Rb8!


The final elegant touch, Josh drops the mic, 0-1

Nic Croad was rock solid, this might have been the decisive moment in the tournament.

Croad, Nicolas - Dive, Russell J

Wellington Open 2022

1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 b5 5.Bb3 a5 6.a4 b4 7.Ne2 Nf6 8.d3 Nbd7 9.c3 Nc5 10.Bc4 Be7 11.d4 Ncxe4 12.dxe5 Ng4 13.exd6 Bxd6 14.Qd4 Ngf6 15.Ng5 Nxg5 16.Bxg5 Be7 17.Bxf6 Bxf6 18.Qe4+ Kf8 19.O-O Qe7 20.Qf3 bxc3 21.Nxc3 Qc5 22.b3 Bf5 23.Rac1 Re8 24.Rfe1 Rxe1+ 25.Rxe1 h5 26.h3

Moves are clickable

Black cracks in the face of continous nagging pressure  26...Rh6? The rook doesn't get to escape its confines this way ( It was just about possible to hold Black's position together with 26...g6 27.Ne4 Qe7! exploiting the undefended Re1  28.Re2 Bxe4 29.Rxe4 Qd8 and Kg7 is coming next ) 27.Qf4 Kg8? (27...g5 is not quite so immediately fatal ) 28.Qb8+ Kh7 29.Bxf7 Rg6 30.Re8 Kh6 31.Rh8+ Kg5 32.Qg3+ ( It's quite a nice mate in three 32.Qg3+ Bg4 33.Rxh5+ Kxh5 34.Qxg4+


pretty!  34...Kh6 35.Qxg6# ) 1-0