Dresden Open 2014 - the winner's account (part 1/2)

by Sagar Shah
8/30/2014 – Usually reporters don't win tournaments. That is left to the strong grandmasters who spend their time studying deep opening novelties or extremely complicated endgames. The job of the writer is to contact them and interview them after the games. But sometimes the reporters themselves will actually win, and when they do you get an incomparable personalized report.

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Dresden Open 2014 – the winner's account (part 1)

By IM Sagar Shah

This is exactly what happened to yours truly, Sagar Shah, as he won the XXXIII ZMDI Open 2014 ahead of fourteen grandmasters and nine International Masters.

Sagar Shah (2339), the author of these lines, won the tournament with a score of 7.0/9
and a performance of 2657. In the process he gained 68 Elo points, as well as €2000!

The nine-day event was known as the Schach (chess) Festival because there was chess simply everywhere. Apart from the main open tournament, there was a B category for players below 2100, a C category for players below 1900, a blitz tournament that lasted 17 rounds, a holiday and tourist’s tournament of seven rounds, and last but not the least the Pegasus Chess Summit which involved great players like Korchnoi, Taimanov, Uhlmann and many more.

The main sponsor of this tournament was Zentrum Mikroelektronik Dresden (ZMDI). It is
a company that manufactures fabless semiconductors and is based in Dresden.

Let us first focus on the main event of the festival, which was the ZMDI Open 2014, held from the 15th-23rd August 2014. There were nine rounds, and the time control was 90 minutes + 30 minutes after move 40, with 30 seconds increment from move number one. The tournament had 112 participants. The top seed of the event was the very strong Hungarian GM Ferenc Berkes (2668). It was a great achievement for me (Sagar Shah, Elo 2339) to win the tournament, since I started as the 24th seed. More than a tournament report, this is my personal account of how I was able to win the tournament.

The tournament was held at the beautiful Wyndham Garden Hotel. It is situated quite a distance from the Dresden city center, in a very quiet and serene location, which is perfect for a chess tournament. A lot of fresh air and absolutely no noise! That’s exactly what chess players need.

Beautiful life size chess sets greet you as you enter the hotel premises

There was also something rarely seen in chess tournaments: full-fledged chess shops. The shops were huge and they sold just about everything related to chess.

So many of the recent ChessBase DVDs

Every imaginable chess book

In this digital age I am wondering why they were trying to sell analog clocks!

Beautiful chess souvenirs. After resisting the temptation of buying something
from these chess shops, you could finally enter the playing hall...

... which was just perfect with the right temperature and lighting


A small video of the tournament hall. The organizers played some nice motivational music before
the round. It really helped me to get into the groove for the game!

The chess boards and pieces used were of excellent quality

The arbiters and organizers were dressed smartly in black suits and were extremely helpful to all players

You can say that the conditions were simply perfect to play a nice tournament without any hindrances.
I came to the tournament after playing four tournaments in Spain. That was almost 50 days of continuous effort. So my main intention was to just enjoy chess – to prepare less and to use the energy that I had conserved during the games.

I started off the tournament with two nice wins against 2066 and 2117 rated players. In the third round I met the strong GM from Russia Viacheslav Zakhartsov. The opening was extremely complicated and I somehow managed to exchange the queens. While I was searching on the best way to press my small advantage I suddenly noticed that my opponent had made a huge mistake. The end was swift and he lost a piece.

[Event "ZMDI Open Dresden"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.17"] [Round "3"] [White "Zakhortsev,Viacheslav"] [Black "Shah, Sagar"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E11"] [WhiteElo "2548"] [BlackElo "2339"] [Annotator "Shah Sagar"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2b2rk1/6rp/1pn1p1p1/p1bpP3/2P4R/PP3N2/1B1N1PP1/R4K2 w - - 0 22"] [PlyCount "12"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 22. Re1 $2 {My opponent made this move quickly but it turned out to be a huge mistake. Black can win a piece quite easily now.} (22. cxd5 exd5 23. Rh6 $17 { White is definitely worse, but there is no finishing shot.}) 22... g5 $1 (22... Rgf7 {I was thinking of playing this but then saw that g5-g4 just finishes him off.}) 23. Rg4 {He continued playing quickly, but the game was already decided.} h5 $1 24. Rg3 (24. Rxg5 Rxg5 25. Nxg5 Rxf2+ $19) 24... g4 25. cxd5 gxf3 (25... exd5 {was also strong and winning.} 26. e6 Re7 $19) 26. Rxg7+ Kxg7 27. Nxf3 (27. dxc6 fxg2+ 28. Ke2 (28. Kxg2 Rxf2+ $19) 28... Bxf2 $19) 27... exd5 $19 {Piece for a pawn. The game is no longer very interesting.} 0-1

GM Viacheslav Zakhartsov in his typical thinking pose.
He managed to recover well and scored 7.0/9, finishing fourth.

Usually when I start off well in a tournament I tend to take on a lot of pressure. I prepare hard for the next games exhaust my energy reserves. This time I was not going to make the same mistake. I decided to go to the Dresden Stadtfest (city festival) and with my wife Amruta I took one of the craziest rides I have ever seen in my life!


The best thing that this ride did to me was to give me an adrenaline rush. After the near-death
experience things like lack of preparation and landing in a minus position didn’t really cross my mind.

My good friend Petar Arnaudov (2426) from Bulgaria was my fourth round opponent

The game swung from being completely winning for me to equal. However when both of us came under acute time pressure, I was able to win thanks to his weak back rank.

[Event "ZMDI open Dresden"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.18"] [Round "4"] [White "Shah, Sagar"] [Black "Arnaudov,Petar"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A20"] [WhiteElo "2339"] [BlackElo "2426"] [Annotator "Shah,Sagar"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5r1k/5rpp/2R5/p1Qp1nq1/3P4/1P5P/P5B1/4R1K1 w - - 0 35"] [PlyCount "12"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] {After a lot of ups and downs we reached this position. We both had around a minute left at this point. So what follows is quite a comedy of errors.} 35. Rc8 {Of course this was the most natural move threatening mate.} Qf6 $6 (35... Kg8 {was the only way to fight on.} 36. Rxf8+ Rxf8 37. Qxd5+ Kh8 38. Qxa5 $16 { White is definitely winning but with two more moves left to reach the 40 move mark, anything could happen!}) 36. Ree8 $6 (36. Re6 $1 {Was the nice finishing shot.} Qxd4+ (36... Qxe6 37. Rxf8+ Rxf8 38. Qxf8+ Qg8 39. Qxf5 $18) 37. Qxd4 Nxd4 38. Ree8 $1 {There is absolutely no way to prevent mate.} Ne6 39. Bxd5 $18 ) 36... Ne7 $2 {I thought for the remaining minute that I had, seeing nothing wrong with taking on e7 – and there was nothing wrong!} (36... Nd6 {I thought he would play this but after the game he said that he didn't want to engage in a hopeless endgame.} 37. Rxf8+ Rxf8 38. Rxf8+ Qxf8 39. Qxd5 $18 {White is better but there can still be some hope for miracle.}) 37. Qxe7 $1 Qf1+ {This was a brilliant idea by my opponent. It could have landed in many a defensive manuals had it worked. But it just falls short.} (37... Qxe7 38. Rxe7 $18) (37... Rxe7 38. Rxf8+ $18) 38. Bxf1 Rxf1+ 39. Kg2 R1f2+ 40. Kg3 {At this point the 40 move mark was reached. Half an hour was added and my opponent nodded and with a smile resigned the game.} -- (40... R2f3+ 41. Kg4 R3f4+ 42. Kh5 $1 R4f5+ 43. Qg5 $18 {This was the move that he must have missed in time pressure.}) 1-0

In the fifth round I played a nice positional game against IM Alexander Belezky (2446) from Ukraine. On the white side of a Bogo-Indian I gained a small edge from the opening which I never let go. In the end I gave up my queen for two rooks. The rooks were just too strong and in the end my opponent had to throw in the towel. I liked the last part of the game in which my rooks dominated his queen and launched a mating attack against his king.

[Event "ZMDI open Dresden"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.19"] [Round "5"] [White "Shah, Sagar"] [Black "Belezky, Alexander"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E11"] [WhiteElo "2339"] [BlackElo "2454"] [Annotator "Shah,Sagar"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2rn1k1/6pp/2ppb3/p1q1p3/P1P5/3RN1P1/1Q2PPBP/1R4K1 w - - 0 28"] [PlyCount "21"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] {This was maybe one of the finest games of the tournament. My play was quite accurate right from the opening and we reached this position when I converted my advantages into something concrete.} 28. Qb6 $1 {The c6 pawn is falling and my opponent decided to disturb the material balance by giving me two rooks for his queen.} Rdb8 29. Qxb8 Rxb8 30. Rxb8 {As it turns out the two white rooks are stronger than the black queen.} Kf8 $6 (30... Kf7 {Looked more natural but I think he was afraid of some check on the seventh rank.} 31. Rdb3 Nf6 32. R3b7+ Kg6 33. Rc7 {Not only attacking c6 but also Rbb7 to attack the g7 pawn.} Qa3 34. Rbb7 Qc1+ 35. Nf1 Qxc4 (35... Bxc4 36. Rxc6 $18) 36. Rxg7+ Kh6 37. h3 $16 {Black has some active possibilities but with accurate play White should win.}) 31. h3 $6 (31. h4 $1 {was definitely more natural but I wanted to keep th3 g4 square under control.}) 31... Ke7 32. Rdb3 {A very nice position showing how strong the white rooks are. Black's queen has hardly any squares to go to.} Nf6 33. R3b7+ Bd7 (33... Nd7 34. Rc8 $1 $18) 34. Rc7 e4 35. Nd5+ $1 { A nice simplifying move.} cxd5 (35... Nxd5 {Loses quite simply.} 36. cxd5 Qxd5 37. Rbb7 Qd1+ 38. Kh2 Qxe2 39. Rxd7+ Ke6 40. Re7+ Kf6 41. Rf7+ Ke5 42. Rbe7+ $18) 36. Rxc5 dxc5 37. cxd5 c4 38. Kf1 $1 $18 {The final accurate move. The White king uses himself to stop the 'c' pawn. The rest was easy and I won the game without too many difficulties.} 1-0

IM Alexander Belezky was the winner of the seven round Holiday and Tourist tournament

After that game I launched into the sole lead with a score of 5.0/5.

– Continued in part two –


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Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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