Silent chess and snow leopards (part 2)

by ChessBase
11/17/2012 – In part two of this account of the 2012 Championships of the ICSC (International Committee of Silent Chess), Christopher Kreuzer reports on the excellent result against a grandmaster achieved by the English deaf chess player Lewis Martin. The snow leopard connection is revealed, along with annotated games, a list of winners, and photos of Almaty, Kazakhstan.

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Chess and snow leopards (Part two)

By Christopher Kreuzer

At the end of part one of this report, top seed Yehuda Gruenfeld had just drawn an impromptu blitz game with FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on the opening day (28 September 2012) of the 15th World Individual Chess Championships of the ICSC (International Committee of Silent Chess). After this, it was announced that the first round would now begin at 16:00. England representative Lewis Martin (21 years old) was paired with the veteran grandmaster. The game was an exciting one as Lewis secured an edge, then a pawn, and came close to winning, but eventually the contest ended as a draw. An excellent result against a GM. The game is extensively annotated at the end of this report.

After the excitement of the first day, things quickly settled into a routine, with the timetable centred around the chess and meals. Other events that took place during the tournament included a blitz tournament, the 31st ICSC Congress, and various sightseeing trips. Sights seen included statues of the Beatles, a monument to the country’s President, the Central State Museum, the Almaty metro system, and the Almaty Deaf Club.

The statue of President Nazarbaev at the park and monumental gates named after him. Nazarbaev has been in power for over twenty years, becoming President when Kazakhstan became independent in 1991.

Barry, the fifth Beatle! This sculpture, said to be the only one in the world showing all four members of the Beatles, is located on the Kok-Tobe hill that gives views over Almaty. The story goes that the businessmen who commissioned it were inspired by the music of the Beatles during the Soviet era.

The Cathedral of the Holy Ascension in Almaty's Panfilov Park. This cathedral is
said to be one of the tallest wooden buildings in the world.

The domes of Almaty's Central Mosque

An example of marble architecture in Almaty's new metro system

The main news from the Congress was the changing of the name of the ICSC to the International Chess Committee of the Deaf (ICCD). Later in the week, there was also a challenge football match. Various adventures resulted from attempts to get to grips with Almaty’s arcane taxi system, but despite several drivers getting lost all ended safely.

After an eventful ten days of competition, the titles were decided. The main event was won by 29-year-old Vladimir Klasan from Serbia, rated 2342, with 8.5/11 and a TPR of 2406, half a point ahead of three other players. The two grandmasters finished 4th and 5th. With this victory, Klasan ended the reign of three-times champion Veselin Georgiev of Bulgaria. Klasan had previously attained an IM norm at the ICSC team event held in Estoril, Portugal, in 2010, but as ICSC World Champion he has now been awarded the IM title outright.

The playing hall

David ½-½ Zhukovskaya

Kreuzer 1-0 Martin (blitz tournament)

The results by England players were as follows: Individual: Martin 5.5/11 (+4,=3,-4); Deaf-blind: Masterson 1/10 (+1,=0,-9); Open: Kreuzer 6/9 (+6,=0,-3), David 4.5/9 (+3,=3,-3). Lewis achieved an excellent performance rating (TPR of 2190), while I missed out on the prizes in my event by half a point.

Kudrashou 1-0 Martin

On the final day, in a packed playing hall the prizes were presented with due ceremony, including a podium, medals, trophies and lots and lots of cute snow leopard statuettes. The winners were: Blitz: Yehuda Gruenfeld (Israel); Men: Vladimir Klasan (Serbia); Women: Tatyana Baklanova (Ukraine); Boys (U19): Mateusz Lapaj (Poland); Girls (U19): Viktoria Aliyeva (Russia); Deaf-Blind: Aleksandr Slepsov (Azerbaijan); Seniors (Men, over 60): Sergey Salov (Germany); Seniors (Women, over 55): Lyubov Kireeva (Russia); Open (Men): Vladimir Zabolotny (Ukraine); Open (Women): Monika Wilgos (Poland).

Tatyana Baklanova and Vladimir Klasan

The prize presentations were followed by several handovers, flag folding, the Kazakhstan national anthem, thanks, gift-giving and speeches. After this was the banquet, where wine and vodka were provided in addition to the usual food. Various toasts were drunk, including far too much vodka. Assorted entertainments from the Kazakh organisers ranged from the comedic to the risqué. The England group travelled home the next morning.

Several organisations and individuals published reports and photo collections. The Kazakhstan organisers produced an official website. The ICSC webpage has some photographs of the winners. The FIDE website report also lists the winners. The Russian deaf chess organisation published a collection of photographs, all wonderfully captioned, during the event.

In closing, I’d like to thank the organisers and officials for all their hard work, as despite some glitches the event generally went smoothly. The assistant arbiters in particular (under the official FIDE arbiter Anton Skurygin from Kazakhstan) did sterling service. Cross-tables of all events are available from the EDCA (English Deaf Chess Association) on request.

Endangered, the snow leopard (Panthera uncia – photo Bernard Landgraf, Wiki) has a global population of around 6,000 but only a few hundred in Kazakhstan. It is hunted for its beautiful, warm fur and for its organs, which are quite despicably used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The snow leopard is ones of the symbols of Almaty and Kazakhstan, found in the logo
of the Almaty Deaf Club (see top of page) and used as a mascot for sporting events.

The cute snow leopard statuettes being carried by the girls in traditional Kazakh costumes
who brought the medals, flowers and trophies to the prize-winners during the closing ceremony.

Games by England players at the 2012 ICSC Championships

Presented here are two games played by England players in Almaty. The first one is the stunning result achieved by Lewis Martin against GM Yehuda Gruenfeld in round one of the World Individual, with annotations and notes provided by Lewis. This game reached move 62 and a complex knight and bishop endgame. The second game is mine from round 8 of the Open, where a speculative sacrifice on move 11 created lasting pressure on my opponent’s position, though I fail to follow up correctly.

[Event "ICSC World Individual (Israel-England)"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.09.28"] [Round "1"] [White "Gruenfeld, Yehuda"] [Black "Martin, Lewis"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B05"] [Annotator "Martin,Lewis"] [PlyCount "124"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] 1. e4 Nf6 {I looked at Gruenfeld's games before the tournament on the off chance I might play him (!). In the database I have looked at, I have only seen one game in a stretch of four years with 1. e4 Nf6, and his reaction when I played this was telling, and he was a bit slower in the opening in comparison to some later games I have seen him in.} 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 Bg4 {This is the Modern Variation of the Alekhine Defense with 4...Bg4.} 5. Be2 e6 6. O-O Be7 7. c4 Nb6 8. Be3 O-O 9. Nbd2 {The first 8 moves were main line theory. It is ok, but White has to be more careful due to the placement of the e3 bishop being a bit stuck.} Nc6 10. exd6 cxd6 11. Rc1 Rc8 12. h3 Bh5 13. a3 { Passive. White needed to play Qb3 here. The unusual looking f5 is actually the best move here and exploits White's slightly cramped pieces. Black is a bit more comfortable here.} f5 14. d5 {The best practical chance. 14. g3 is ok, although will let Black steadily improve his game.} exd5 15. Bxb6 Qxb6 16. cxd5 Bxf3 $1 {The only move here. White is threatening Nc4 and Nd4 later to exploit the e6 square for his knight. A move which Gruenfeld might have missed when analysing this.} 17. Nc4 Qd8 18. Bxf3 Ne5 19. Qb3 Nxf3+ {Not quite correct. 19. ..Bg5 first is better as if White plays Ne3 then the queen is blocked to take back on f3. White has to play Rc3 in this case. However the variation I played is fine for Black.} 20. Qxf3 Bg5 21. Ne3 g6 {Consolidating the position. No need to be hasty or rush into anything. Exchanging rooks first and then g6 is also fine. However , I did not want to give White control of the c-file.} 22. Rce1 {White gets more passive. Exchanging rooks was better.} Qb6 23. Nd1 Rfe8 { 23...Bf6 and then Be5 is the best play here. My move tries to take some control of the e-file, but it seems that both of us missed the counter 24. Re6! bringing White more equal, though Black still has slightly better activity. } 24. Re2 Qd4 25. Nc3 {again Re6 was better for White.} Re5 {Threatening to double up on the e-file. Exchanging rooks was best, Rd1 is not convincing as it blocks the knight back to d1 and so Black will try to get the bishop on the h8-a1 diagonal. But not a lot wrong.} 26. Rxe5 Qxe5 {Why give White a chance with a very dangerous passed pawn?} 27. Qd1 Re8 {Important. Control of the e-file is probably the decider of the initiative here.} 28. Qa4 a6 29. Rd1 Bf4 $1 {Black's plan in the last few moves and now have been trying to get the bishop on d2, attacking the c3 knight and the b2 pawn. This subtle move means that White has to play Kf1 or Rf1, which makes Bd2 a better possibility. Black has to be careful as if 29...Bd2 30. Rxd2 Qe1+ 31. Kh2 Qxd2 32. Qxe8+. With 30. Kf1 Bd2 works as after Rxd2, its Qe1 checkmate!} 30. Rf1 Bd2 31. Nb1 Be1 32. Qb3 Re7 {solid, but Black missed Qd4 first here (and cursed himself!)} 33. a4 $2 {Oh dear. Loses a pawn.} Qd4 {A simple threat of ...Bxf2+. If Rxf2 then Re1+ wins the exchange due to Kh2 Qxf2. White has to lose a pawn. If a4 was not played, then White can play Qf3 however his position is still problematic.} 34. Qc2 Qxd5 35. Na3 f4 36. Qc1 Qd2 {Not best. 36...Bd2 to maintain the pressure was better. Although this way forces a bishop vs knight endgame being a passed pawn up, Black's pieces were still better placed in this position, and for example the b2 pawn is weak.} 37. Qxd2 Bxd2 38. Rd1 Re1+ 39. Rxe1 Bxe1 40. Nc2 Bd2 41. Kf1 Kf7 42. Ke2 Bc1 43. b3 Ke6 44. Nd4+ Kd5 45. Kd3 Bb2 46. Nf3 Bf6 {The moves played previously in the sequence were the best as they were quite logical. However here Bf6 is needed to defend the kingside.} 47. g4 fxg3 48. fxg3 {Gruenfeld did not like this move although Fritz liked my move as it gave me a tempo of sorts. However this endgame is fairly complicated and not easy to play.} Kc5 49. Ne1 h5 50. g4 hxg4 {simplifying the kingside so it is harder for White to counter attack here. Of course, Black's main play is on the queenside and trying to push that d-pawn up the board.} 51. hxg4 d5 52. Nf3 Kb4 53. Kc2 d4 54. Ne1 Kc5 {moves 52 to 55 were little steps to get the pawn in front of the king to make it more difficult for White.} 55. Kd3 Kd5 56. Nf3 b5 $2 {Essentially lost the advantage. The rest of the moves basically confirmed the draw. The spectators kept saying 56...g5 however myself and Gruenfeld were not too convinced although White still had to be careful in practical terms, 56...g5 was probably the most difficult move for White to defend against. The best response here was of course 57.b4 which would try to simplify the queenside and limit any Black advantage but White has to play well. The other move I was thinking of playing (and I think Gruenfeld was about to look at this line before Klasan interrupted! plus Fritz preferred this move most.) was 56...a5! Essentially this stops b4 and leaves White in zugzwang of sorts. See later comment.} 57. axb5 axb5 58. g5 Be5 59. Nh4 Bf4 60. Nxg6 Bxg5 {If you look at this situation but where Black had played 56...a5, so with the b3, a4 pawns for White and b6,a5 pawns for Black, White's knight has little activity here, and the key thing is that it is White to move. If the king moves, game over for White as after Ke4 and d3+ Black's king will get access to the b3 and a4 pawns. The knight can only go to h8 or f8. If h8, which makes it further away, and so Black can carry out the plan of Kc5, Kb4, and then playing d3 to obtain two passed pawns as if the b3 pawn is gone, then the a4 pawn will go too. This is a won endgame, as if the knight took the b-pawn it is not a problem because I have a dark-squared bishop covering the a1 square. If Nf8 instead, then Be7! (Kc5?? Ne6+) There are a few possibilities: if Ng6 then Bd6 which also enhances the Kc5 Kb4 plan. Else, if Nh7, it is pointless and not going anywhere to stop Black, however Nd7 presents the best play for White, as after Bc5 (defending b6 and d4) it is an even longer endgame where Black still has a chance to win, but is more likely to draw. The next play here is to get the king around to e1. if Ke2 later to prevent it, then a timely Bb4+ followed by Bc3 or a straight Ke1 depending on the white knight's position present opportunities for Black but I am not sure that this will work!} 61. b4 Bc1 62. Ne7+ Ke5 {Black can just play Ba3 and then Bxb4, where White only has a king and knight, not enough to mate. A well-earned draw however the key move for Black to improve his position was probably just before exchanging queens, where at move 36, Bd2 was better than Qd2.} 1/2-1/2

[Event "ICSC Open (England-Russia)"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.10.04"] [Round "8"] [White "Kreuzer, Chris"] [Black "Shajakhmetov, Ildar"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B07"] [Annotator "Kreuzer,Chris"] [PlyCount "76"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e5 4. dxe5 dxe5 5. Qxd8+ Kxd8 6. Bg5 c6 7. O-O-O+ Ke8 8. Nf3 Nbd7 9. Bc4 Bc5 10. Rd2 b5 11. Nxb5 $6 cxb5 12. Bxb5 Nxe4 13. Rd5 f6 { this allows me to play another sacrifice - it seems that the initial sacrifice, if not best, is playable, as White seems to at least equalise in all lines} ( 13... Nxg5 14. Nxg5 Be7 15. Nf3 Rb8 16. Nxe5 Rxb5 17. Rxb5 a6 18. Rd5 Nxe5 19. Rxe5 $14) 14. Nxe5 $1 Bd6 (14... fxe5 15. Rxe5+ Kf7 16. Rxe4 Nf6 17. Re2 Bb7 18. Bc4+ Kg6 19. Bxf6 gxf6 20. Rhe1 $11) 15. Nc4 Ke7 $4 {a mistake, but understandable as both players now had only 10 minutes (and 30 seconds per move) to make 25 moves to the time control at move 40.} (15... fxg5 16. Nxd6+ Nxd6 17. Rxd6 Rf8 18. Rhd1 Rf7 19. Bc6 Rb8 20. f3 Kd8 21. Be4 h6 22. c4 Ke7 23. Rc6 $11 {and Black is slowly unravelling}) 16. Nxd6 Nxd6 17. Bc6 $2 (17. Re1+ Kf7 (17... Ne5 18. Rdxe5+ $18 {I had somehow missed that this move was possible, focusing too much on whether the previously pinned d7-knight was able to move to d5 to block the check and escape, leaving my g5-bishop attacked by the pawn. I completely forgot that the knight is not protected on d5 thanks to the g5-bishop pinning the f6-pawn!}) 18. Rxd6 fxg5 19. Bxd7 $18) 17... Bb7 {White still has an edge, but both players are still in severe time trouble} 18. Bxb7 Nxb7 19. Rhd1 $2 (19. Re1+ Kd8 20. Red1 fxg5 21. Rxd7+ Kc8 22. Rxg7 h6 23. Rdd7 Nd8 24. Rxa7 Rxa7 25. Rxa7 $16 {is how the game should have continued}) 19... Rhd8 20. Bf4 Ne5 $2 (20... Nb6 $17) 21. Bxe5 Rxd5 22. Rxd5 fxe5 23. Rxe5+ {and the position is now roughly equal, but both players are down to around a minute each, so effectively using their 30 seconds per move to reach move 40.} Kd6 24. Re3 Rf8 25. f3 Rf6 26. c4 Nc5 27. b4 Ne6 28. Ra3 Rf7 29. g3 Nd4 30. f4 Kc6 31. Re3 Nf5 32. Re6+ Kc7 33. Re5 g6 34. Kc2 Rd7 35. g4 Nd4+ 36. Kc3 Nc6 37. Rc5 {slowly, White's position has been improving, and Black, under severe pressure, runs very low on time and ends up losing on time two moves before the time control.} Kb6 38. a4 Rd1 {Black should have played Rd1, see variation for what was actually played} (38... a5 {Black's flag fell as he played his 38th move} 39. Rb5+ Ka6 40. bxa5 Nxa5 41. f5 gxf5 42. gxf5 Rd6 $16 43. Kb4 Nb7 44. Re5 Rh6 45. Re8 Rxh2 46. Ra8+ Kb6 47. a5+ Kc6 48. Rc8+ Kd7 49. Rg8 Rb2+ 50. Ka3 Rb1 51. Rg7+ Kc6 52. a6 Ra1+ 53. Kb4 Rxa6 54. f6 Ra1 55. Rxh7 Rf1 $11) 1-0


  • English Deaf Chess Association
    This website is aimed for everyone who is deaf, hard of hearing or deafened with an interest in chess. Everything you wanted to know about Deaf chess in England can be found here. The EDCA has magazines/bulletins distributed throughout the year to our members.
  • The Friends of Chess
    The Friends make financial support available in the chess world in ways which are perceived as making a difference. Given the wide-ranging objects (which are expressed as “to advance, encourage, support, sponsor and promote the playing of chess and all activities and interests concerned with chess” and which contain no geographical limitations) there is no limit on the type of chess-related activity that can be supported.

The English Deaf Chess Association would like to thank the Friends of Chess for their grant towards Lewis Martin's participation as well as contributions from our loyal individual supporters.

Copyright Kreuzer/ChessBase

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