After having played several tournaments in Leiden, I was very interested in participating in the annual tournament in Paderborn. In 2004 I could attend for the first time, and I was one of the few non-German participants that were making it an international tournament.
It is a very strong tournament. With participants like Shredder, Fritz, Hydra, Gandalf, Diep, Yace, Anaconda, SOS, Quark, Patzer, Comet, Ikarus, Isichess, Matador, Black Bishop and the Baron there wasnít a single easy target. No wonder that I was asking myself whether I was battling for the wrong first place, the one from the bottom. The preparations for the tournament were far from optimal. After disappointing play at the Dutch Open (although the result wasnít that bad) and the similar result in the internet tournament CCT-6, I did not have high expectations for this tournament. But fortunately, the weeks before the tournament I did find the cause of a few major problems that I was looking for for almost a half year. So perhaps there was something better than last place?
With the never boring Vincent Diepeveen as travelling companion the adventure started. After picking him up at home, and after completing the puzzle of two PCís and one luggage area, the journey to Paderborn was completed without problems.
The tournament starts at the hotel where almost all participants are staying: SŁdhotel. The Greek owner (about 3.5 heads smaller than I am) showed some compassion with me and changed the room that was reserver for me (a small room in the attick) to a nice double room. But with the reprimande that I should reserve earlier next time. Noted!
The first round was against the other Dutch competitor: Diep. The same opening was played as during the Dutch open a few months before that. Unfortunately the Baron lost that one by playing a blunder in the opening, just after leaving the book. As I was playing with exactly the same book and didnít extend the bookline so it would play something less foolish, exactly the same position emerged on the board. Fortunately, due to the longer time control, Diep thought of an improvement compared to the game during the Dutch open, and the Baron escaped to an equal position. Baron lost nonetheless.
The next rounds were not really according to wish either. The game with Ikarus was lost without any chance, and also the supposedly weaker Black Bishop was making it very hard for the Baron and it barely escaped from losing. Against Matador the Baron had an easier game and should have won. But a fault in the tablebase probing code provided an escape for Matador and the game result was a draw. Fortunately the mistake was found quickly. Nonetheless, the game against Patzer wasnít successful either, and the Baron lost again. I started to worry. The Baron shared the last place and the remaining opponents did not give hope on a much better result.
Fortunately the evenings were very nice. All participants usually had their dinners together in one of the restaurants, in a relaxed atmosphere. Great to get to know each other a little better!
But the fear of zero points in the last rounds was not justified. In the game against SOS the Baron scored his first full point:
The Baron - SOS
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Be7 6.dxe5 O-O 7.Re1 d5 8.exd6 Bxd6 9.Nbd2 Ng5 10.Bxc6 bxc6
SOS has the worse pawn structure but with compensation due to the pair of bishops in the open centre.
11.Nf1 Ne6 12.Ng3 Bb7 13.b3?
13.. Bb4 14.Bd2 c5 15.c3 Bxf3 16.gxf3 Ba3 17.f4 c4 18.bxc4 a6 19.Rb1 Qh4 20.Re4 Nc5 21.Re5 Rad8 22.Qc2 Nd3
The Baron thought it was better here, much better. But the human observer knows better. SOS has more than sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn. The difference in searchdepth between SOS and the Baron was gigantic. Where the Baron managed to search to depths of 10 plies, SOS was busy looking at 17 to 18 plies deep.
23.Rh5 Qg4 24.Be3 f5 25.Qa4 Bc5 26.Rg5 Qf3 27.Qd1 Qxd1+ 28.Rxd1 Bxe3 29.fxe3
I was quite satisfied with this somewhat inferior ending, as searchdepth is less important there. It was probably better for SOS to avoid the exchange of queens
29..g6 30.Kf1 Kh8
I think SOS chooses the wrong side for his king. 30..Kg7 seems better here. Then 31.Nxf5+ fails on 31..Rxf5 32.Rxf5 gxf5 33.Ke2 Nxf4+ 34.exf4 Rxd1 35. Kxd1 and the black king enters the white position.
31.Ne2 Nb2 32.Rxd8 Rxd8 33.Nd4 Nd1 34.Ke2
34.Ne6 is likely to end up in a good position for SOS: 34..Rd6 35.Nxc7 Nxe3+ 36.Ke2 Ng4! 37.h3 h6 38.Rxg4 fxg4 39.hxg4 Rc6 and the rook is very strong.
34..Nxc3+ 35.Kf3 Nxa2 36.Rg1 Re8?
The Baron rescued his rook by sacrificing a pawn, but after 36..Re8 it gets pressure on the black a-pawn as well. The black rook cannot defend it actively. Direct 36..Nb4 is better.
37.Ra1 Nb4 38.Ra4 c5 39.Nb3 Nc2 40.Nxc5 Rxe3+ 41.Kf2 Kg8 42.Rxa6
The Baron got his pawn back, and has a potentially dangerous c-pawn.
42..Ra3 43.h4 Rxa6 44.Nxa6
44..Kf7 45.Ke2 Nd4+ 46.Ke3 Ne6 47.Nb4 Ke7 48.Nc6+ Kf6 49.Nd4 Nc5 50.Ne2 Ke7 51.Ng1 Ne6 52.Nf3 Kd7
53.Ng5 Nf8 54.Kd4 Ke7 55.Nf3 Ne6+ 56.Ke5 Nc5 57.Ne1 Ne4 58.Kd5 Nc3+
A crucial moment. The Baron had to make the choice whether to try for a win, or settle for a draw
The Baron tries to win! Other moves are not sufficient. SOS assessed this position as a draw. Later it was discovered that SOS did not recognize zugzwang correctly and therefor it believed it had a draw until short before the end of the game.
59..Ne2 60.Nd3 Ke6
61.Kb6 Pd4 62.Pb4 Kd7 63.c5 Kc8 64.Pc6 Pe6 65.Pe7+ Kd8 66.Pd5 Kd7 67.c6+ Kc8 68.Kb5
The Baron is careful and explores the possibilities to play for the win and searches for the winning zugzwang. Direct 68.c7 is probably also winning.
68..Kd8 69.Kb4 Kc8 70.Kc4 Kd8 71.Kb5 Kc8 72.Kb6 Kd8 73.c7+ Kd7
74.Kb7 Nc5+ 75.Ka7
Zugzwang. At e.g. 75..Kc8 follows 76.Kb6 with the threat 77.Ne7+. A knight move fails on Kb8 with promotion.
75..h6 76.Kb8 Na6+ 77.Kb7 Nc5+ 78.Ka7 h5
79.Kb8 Na6+ 80.Kb7 Nc5+ 81.Ka7 Ne6
Zugzwang again, and this time there is no harmless move left. At this point SOS realized it was lost
82.Kb8 Nxc7 83.Nxc7 Kd6 84.Kb7 1-0
Finally a won game! The Baron started it last game in a good mood again.
Comet - The Baron
1.c4 Nf6 2.d4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 O-O 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.O-O b6 10.Bd3 Bb7 11.Bg5 Qd7 12.Qd2 Rfd8 13.Rfd1 f6 14.Bf4 e6 15.Rab1 Qf7 16.Be3 Rd6 17.Qc2 Rad8 18.c4 R6d7 19.c5 f5
20.exf5 gxf5 21.cxb6 cxb6 22.Bb5 R7d6 23.Qa4
The Baron finds a move that releases the black position from all white pressure:
Comet has to be careful here.
Not the correct response. Better was to take the knight with either the knight or bishop. But even then it is not without danger, e.g:
24..Bxd4 25.Bxd4 Qg6 26.f3
26..Bxf3 27.Nf4 R6xd4 28.Qxd4 Rxd4 29.Nxg6 Be4 30.Ne7+ Kf8 31.Nxf5 Bxf5
32.Rc1 Rb4 33.Bf1 a5 34.Rc3 Rb2 35.a3 Ke7 36.Bd3 Bxd3 37.Rxd3
The rook endgame looks won for black: One extra pawn, a passer, a central king and the white king cut off
37..Kf6 38.Rf3+ Ke5 39.Rh3 Ra2 40.Rxh7 Rxa3
41.Rh5+ Kd6 42.Rb5 Kc6 43.Re5 Ra1+ 44.Kf2 Kd6 45.Rb5 Kc6 46.Re5 a4!
47.Rxe6+ Kc5 48.Re5+ Kb4 49.Re4+ Ka5 50.h3 a3 51.Re7 a2 0-1