Canadian Open: Canadians take it all

7/21/2009 – Nine players were in contention, five drew their games, two lost and two Canadians won. GM Mark Bluvshtein and IM Edward Porper beat FM Theo Hommeles and GM Surya Ganguly to take first places. Bluvshtein won the title on tiebreak. In the next slot, 3rd–8th, we find Shirov, Adams and Irina Krush! Illustrated report with round eight commentary by GM Alexander Shabalov.

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2009 Canadian Open Chess Championship, Edmonton

The Canadian Open was held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. This open Swiss tournament with a Classical time control attracted a few very strong GMs such as Alexei Shirov, Ni Hua and Michael Adams. Top Canadian players like GM Mark Bluvshtein played, as well as many other professional and amateur players. 203 players, all competed in one section. The playing venue was a ballroom within a large shopping mall in downtown Edmonton, with restaurants, a movie theatre and shopping all just minutes away. And with just one game every day, unlike most Opens in North America, there was plenty of time for entertainment and tourism.

Final standings

In the final (ninth) round, with nine players leading with 6.5/7 points. Of these Alexei Shirov drew Eugene Perelshteyn, Irina Krush drew Michael Adams, Jonathan Tayar drew Zhao Xue. At the same time Mark Bluvshtein defeated top place condender FM Theo Hommeles (with the black pieces), and IM Edward Porper defeated GM Surya Ganguly, so that both these Canadian players finished half a point ahead of the field. Bluvshtein took the title on tiebreak points.

The winner, Mark Bluvshtein, with

# Name Rtng Pts.
1 GM Mark Bluvshtein 2598  7.5
2 IM Edward Porper 2510  7.5
3 GM Alexei Shirov 2748  7.0
4 GM Michael Adams 2699  7.0
5 GM Eugene Perelshteyn 2588  7.0
6 IM Irina Krush 2481  7.0
7 FM John C Yoos 2442  7.0
8 FM Jonathan Tayar 2392  7.0
9 GM Hua Ni 2701  6.5
10 GM Surya Ganguly 2637  6.5
11 GM Victor Mikhalevski 2631  6.5
12 IM Artiom Samsonkin 2612  6.5
13 GM Anton Kovalyov 2586  6.5
14 GM Xue Zhao 2544  6.5
15 IM Leonid Gerzhoy 2530  6.5
16 IM Zhe Quan 2465  6.5
17 IM Dmitry Zilberstein 2437  6.5
18 FM Raja Panjwani 2418  6.5
19 FM Theo Hommeles 2412  6.5
20 FM Michael Barron 2357  6.5
21 Avinaash Sundar 2210  6.5
22 FM Eric Hansen 2472  6.0
23 IM Leon Piasetski 2406  6.0
24 FM Vladimir Pechenkin 2366  6.0
25 FM Michael Langer 2313  6.0
26 Victor Plotkin 2310  6.0
27 Zhichao Li 2264  6.0
28 Nicholas Moloney 2230  6.0
29 Noam Davies 2214  6.0
30 William Doubleday 2198  6.0
31 WFM Dina Kagramanov 2140  6.0
32 Tanraj S Sohal 2072  6.0
33 Richard Huang 1952  6.0

Note that in the above table the Chess Federation of Canada ratings are used, e.g. for Bluvshtein, Porper, Perelshteyn, etc, unless the player doesn't have a CFC rating, like Michael Adams, in which case the FIDE rating is used. For Alexei Shirov the table gives his CFC rating (2748 instead of 2732 FIDE) since he has played in Canada before.

A key game, which Porper won in 58 moves to join Bluvshtein at the top of the table

What happened? Top seed and world number 15 Alexei Shirov finished third

I'll drink to that! British GM Michael Adams, equal 3rd-8th

IM Irina Krush drew with Michael Adams and finished equal 3-8

Photos Tracy Kolenchuk and Zeljka Malobabic of MonRoi

Round eight commentary by GM Alexander Shabalov (highlights)

Alexander Shabalov (born September 12, 1967) is an American chess grandmaster of Latvian origin, and like his fellow Latvians Alexei Shirov and Mikhail Tal he is known for courting complications even at the cost of objective soundness. He is a four-times winner of the US Championship and currently rated 2580 on the FIDE ratings list.

Until recently Shabalov regularly lectured chess players of all ages at the House of Chess, a store that he ran at the Ross Park Mall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, until it closed in mid-2007. He has been known to play against anyone who shows up, and to be similarly obliging to autograph-seekers.

In the following we bring you a selection of Shabalov's excellent daily commentary of the Canadian Open. By clicking the link at the end of each game you can view the full commentary (including additional games we have given here). Remember that on our JavaScript replay board you can click on the notation to follow the moves on the graphic chessboard.

Bluvshtein,Mark (2598) - Shirov,Alexei (2748)
2009 Canadian Open Chess Championship Edmonton Canada (8), 18.07.2009 [Alexander Shabalov]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Nge2 d5 6.a3 Be7 7.Nf4 c6 8.Bd3. It is for a reason the mainline is 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bd3. 8...Nbd7?! It is hard to question the decision by a Slav player to get into an Exchange Slav type of position with the bishop on c8 instead of a standard Meran position with white knight on f4. Safety must have been Alexey's priority in this game. 8...dxc4 9.Bxc4 Nbd7 10.Qc2 e5 11.Nfe2 exd4 12.Nxd4 Ne5 13.Be2 Bc5 14.b4 Bb6 15.Nf5 g6 16.Ng3 h5=/+ 17.Bb2 h4 18.Nce4 hxg3 19.hxg3 Bc7 20.Rd1 Qe7 21.Qc5 Qxc5 22.Nxf6+ Kg7 23.bxc5 Kxf6 24.f4 Be6 25.fxe5+ Ke7 26.Kf2 Rad8 27.Bd4 Rh8 28.Rhf1 b5 29.Kg1 Rh6 30.Bc3 Rxd1 31.Rxd1 a6 32.Bf3 Bd5 33.Bxd5 cxd5 34.Rxd5 Ke6 35.e4 Rh8 36.g4 Rd8 37.Rxd8 Bxd8 38.c6 Be7 39.a4 bxa4 40.Kf2 a3 41.Ke2 a2 42.Kd3 Bb4 43.Bd4 Bc5 44.Bc3 Bb4 45.Bd4 Bc5 1/2 Kortschnoj,V (2623)-Khalifman,A (2624)/Sochi 2007/CBM. 9.cxd5 cxd5 10.Qf3 a6 11.g4 e5!? Good practical decision. It does not equalize completely, but certainly changes everything on the board. 12.Nfxd5 exd4 13.exd4 Nxd5 14.Qxd5?! Safe move, which allows Black to liquidate into a slightly worse endgame. More challenging was 14.Nxd5 Nf6 15.Nxf6+ Bxf6 16.Be3 g6 17.Qf4+/= keeping an extra pawn. 14...Nb6 15.Qxd8 Rxd8 16.Be2 Bf6 17.Be3 Bxd4 18.Rd1 Bxc3+ 19.bxc3 Rxd1+ 20.Kxd1 Nd5 21.Bd4 Bd7 22.Kd2 Bc6 23.Re1 Re8 24.Bc4 Rxe1 25.Kxe1

On paper, this endgame is better for White, but this is not a problem for the disciplined defender Alexey has become. 25...f6 26.f3 Kf7 27.h4 g6 28.Kf2 f5 29.Kg3 Ke6 30.Bb3 b5 31.c4 bxc4 32.Bxc4 Bb5 33.Bb3. It is impossible to even create winning chances here without another weakness in Black's camp. 33.gxf5+ was one of the options. With the pawn on g4, playing h5 was another. 33...fxg4 34.Kxg4 Be2 35.Bc2 Ne7 36.Be4 Nf5 37.Bc5 Kf6 38.Bf2 Nd6 39.Bd4+ 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Adams,Michael (2699) - Porper,Edward (2510)
2009 Canadian Open Chess Championship Edmonton Canada (8), 18.07.2009 [Alexander Shabalov]

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.c4 Nb6 6.exd6 exd6 7.Be2 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.d5 Ne5 10.Nxe5 dxe5 11.Nc3 Bc5 12.Be3! When it comes to quiet and simple positions Michael Adams remains one of the top players in the world. 12...Bxe3 13.fxe3 Qg5 14.Qd3 Bg4 15.Bxg4 Qxg4 16.e4 Nd7 17.h3 Qg6 18.Kh2 a6 19.b4 Qb6 20.a3 Qd4 21.Rad1 Qxd3 22.Rxd3 b6 23.Rc1 Rfb8 24.g4 Kf8 25.Kg3 Ke8 26.g5 Rc8 27.Rf1 a5 28.b5. Michael outplayed his opponent from a slightly better middlegame, but lets the game slip away from him with the text and the follow up two moves later 28.Nb5! axb4 29.axb4 Ra2 30.d6 c6 31.Nc7+ Kf8 32.Rdf3 f6 33.gxf6 gxf6 34.Rxf6+ Nxf6 35.Rxf6+ Kg7 36.d7 Rd8 37.Rf3!! was winning right away. 28...f6 29.gxf6 gxf6 30.d6!? c6

31.c5?! A two-pawn sac is exciting, but it changes the assessment of the position from slightly better for White to White has some compensation. Michael's draw offer is timely. 31.Kf2 Kf7 32.Rg3 cxb5 33.Rfg1 forced rooks exchange 33...Rg8 34.Rxg8 Rxg8 35.Rxg8 Kxg8 36.Nxb5 Kf7 37.Nc7 and the resulting knight ending is drawn.; But another double pawn sacrifice 31.Rf5!? cxb5 32.Rh5 bxc4 33.Rd1 would certainly be something Mike was looking for 31...Nxc5 32.d7+ Nxd7 33.Rd6 cxb5 In the final position Black is better, but not by much after 34.Nd5 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Ganguly,Surya (2637) - Quan,Zhe (2465)
2009 Canadian Open Chess Championship Edmonton Canada (8), 18.07.2009 [Alexander Shabalov]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3. Is gradually becoming a very popular anti-Najdorf weapon. 6...e6 7.g4 b5!? 8.Bg2 Bb7 9.0-0 h6?! 9...b4 10.Nce2 Bxe4 looks like the only playable continuation for Black in this line. 10.Re1 Nbd7? Black ignores White's intentions completely. 10...Qc7 11.a4 b4 12.Na2 e5 13.Nf5 Nc6 14.Bd2 g6 15.Ne3 a5 16.c3 is already extremely unpleasant for Black. 11.e5 Bxg2?! 11...dxe5 12.Bxb7 exd4 13.Bxa8 dxc3 14.Bc6 Bc5 15.Qf3+/- does not look great either,but it would stop this game from making it into future miniatures collections. 12.exf6 Bb7 13.fxg7 Bxg7

14.Nf5! White could have easily gone wrong with 14.Nxe6? fxe6 15.Rxe6+ Kf7 16.Rxd6 Ne5 17.Rxd8 Raxd8 18.Qe2 Nf3+ 19.Kf1 Nh2+ 20.Kg1 Nf3+ and Black survives. 14...Be5 15.Nxd6+ Bxd6 16.Qxd6 Qh4 17.Nd5 Bxd5 18.Qxd5 Rc8 19.Bf4! Great solution. White is immediately winning. 19...Qf6 20.Bg3 Rxc2 21.Rad1 Qd8 22.Rxe6+ 1-0. [Click to replay]

Samsonkin,Artiom (2612) - Tayar,Jonathan (2392)
2009 Canadian Open Chess Championship Edmonton Canada (8), 18.07.2009 [Alexander Shabalov]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.c4 0-0 5.Nc3 d6 6.0-0 e5 7.d3 Nh5 8.Rb1 f5 9.Nd2 Nc6 10.e3 Be6 11.b4 Qd7 12.b5 Nd8 13.Bb2 c6 14.bxc6 bxc6 15.f4 White decides to complicate things. 15.Qa4 was leaving him with a typical minimal advantage. 15...Rb8 16.Ba1 Rxb1 17.Qxb1 Nf7 18.Qd1 Qc7 19.Kh1 Qb6 20.Na4 Qc7 21.Nf3 Rb8 22.Qd2 c5 23.Nc3 h6? This hands White the initiative. 24.Nh4 Nh8 25.Nd5 Qd8 26.e4? Artiom got carried away. Subtle 26.Qe2 with the threat 27.fxe5 dxe5 28.Nxf5! would give White an almost decisive advantage. 26...Bxd5! After this exchange, the tables are turning. Black starts dominating on the dark squares. 27.cxd5 exf4 28.Bxg7 Kxg7 29.exf5 fxg3 30.Nxg6 Nxg6 31.fxg6 Qh4 32.h3 Nf6 33.Qa5 Rb7 34.Qd8 Rd7 35.Qc8 Re7 36.Qc6 Ng4?! Black gambles his advantage for a few checks. The simple 36...Ne8-/+ would lead to a strategically winning position for him. 37.Qxd6 Nf2+ 38.Kg1 Re2 39.Qxc5 Qf4 40.Qxa7+? the first step in the wrong direction. 40.d6 was winning easily. 40...Kxg6

41.Be4+?? An amazing blunder from the talented junior. After 41.Qc5+/= Black's activity is probably sufficient to keep the balance. 41...Qxe4 42.Qf7+ Kxf7 43.dxe4 Ke7 44.Kg2 Nxe4+ 45.Kg1 Ng5 0-1. [Click to replay]

Ni,Hua (2701) - Hommeles,Theo (2412)
2009 Canadian Open Chess Championship Edmonton Canada (8), 18.07.2009 [Alexander Shabalov]

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nge2 Nc6 5.f3 exd4!? The game transposes into the Philidor Defence. 6.Nxd4 Be7 7.Bb5 Bd7 8.Nde2 0-0 9.Nf4 Ne5 10.Bxd7 Qxd7 11.0-0 c6 12.Kh1 Rfe8 13.b3 Rad8 14.Qd4 b6 15.Bb2 Qc7 16.Nce2?! White had to tighten his grip on the center before attempting this regroup. [16.Rad1] 16...Bf8 17.c4? Allows a very effective breakthrough. 17...d5!! 18.cxd5 cxd5 19.exd5

19...g5! 20.Rac1? Loses material by force. 20.Nh3 Rxd5 21.Qc3 Rc5 22.Qd2 g4 23.Nhf4 Rc2 24.Bxe5 Rxe5 25.Qd3 was still very playable. 20...Bc5 21.Qd1 gxf4 22.b4 Rxd5 23.Qb3 Rd2 24.Nxf4? 24.Ng1 would keep the material even, even though black dominates positionally 24...Nd5 25.bxc5 Ne3. 24...Ned7. A nice move Black had to have foreseen. But, in fact, any other knight retreat would win. 24...Ng6 25.Nxg6 hxg6 26.Bxf6 Rxg2; or 24...Nc6 25.Bc3 Rf2. 25.Bc3 Qxf4. Black plays it safe. 25...Rf2 would keep an extra piece. 26.Bxd2 Qxd2 27.bxc5 Nxc5 28.Qc3. Forced exchange because of the Nd3 threat. Black takes his time to win this endgame, but in the end, despite Hua's heroic defence, things come to their logical conclusion. 28...Qxc3 29.Rxc3 Re2 30.Ra3 a5 31.Kg1 Nd5 32.Rf2 Re5 33.Rd2 Kf8 34.Kf2 Ke7 35.h4 a4 36.Rd4 Kd6 37.Rc3 Kc6 38.Rc2 Kb5 39.f4 Nxf4! Good technique. With this exchange, Theo eliminates any possibility of a tactical blunder. It seems like, in the end, White was lacking just one tempo to survive, but, in fact, it was never close because of the weak a2 pawn. 40.Rxf4 Nd3+ 41.Kg3 Nxf4 42.Kxf4 Rc5 43.Rb2+ Ka5 44.Ke3 Rc3+ 45.Kd4 Rg3 46.Rf2 h5 47.Rxf7 Rxg2 48.a3 Rg3 49.Rf5+ b5 50.Rxh5 Rxa3 51.Rh8 Kb4 52.h5 Rh3 53.h6 a3 54.h7 a2 55.Ra8 Ra3 0-1. [Click to replay]


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