The Ten Games of the Politiken Cup Winner

Thu, 2014-07-31 11:47 -- IM Max Illingworth

[pgn][Event "Politiken Cup 2014"]
[Site "Helsingor DEN"]
[Date "2014.07.21"]
[Round "1.3"]
[White "Hansen, Max"]
[Black "Bu, Xiangzhi"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E63"]
[WhiteElo "2009"]
[BlackElo "2693"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r1bq1rk1/2R2pbp/6p1/1Q1p4/1p1Pp3/4P1P1/PP1N2BP/2R3K1 b - - 0 19"]
[PlyCount "3"]
[EventDate "2014.07.21"]

{In today's blog post I will be covering the Politiken Cup, specifically of
the winner, Bu Xiangzhi, who crushed the field with 9/10. The Australians also
did very well in the Politiken Cup, as I've reported in my Olympiad
Newsletters. First up, let's test your skills at finding the weakest point in
the opponent's position. What would you play?} 19... Bh6 $1 {e3 is the sore
point in White's position, and by attacking it, Black can turn his positional
advantage into a material advantage.} 20. Kf2 {Not one of the better defences,
but White was already lost:} (20. Nf1 Ba6 21. Qc6 ({or} 21. Qxb4 Bxf1 22. Kxf1
Bxe3 {and with ...Qf6 coming, White's position in a state of total collapse.})
21... Bxf1 22. Rxf1 Rxa2 {detonates too many pawns.}) (20. Qe2 Bg4 $1 21. Qf2
Rxa2 {is also pretty nasty, with Black adding a pawn to all his positional
assets.}) 20... Qf6+ {White resigned as Ke2 runs into ...Ba6, and otherwise e3
falls and it is game over.} 0-1 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Politiken Cup 2014"]
[Site "Helsingor DEN"]
[Date "2014.07.22"]
[Round "2.3"]
[White "Bu, Xiangzhi"]
[Black "Thaler, Matthias"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D02"]
[WhiteElo "2693"]
[BlackElo "2199"]
[PlyCount "43"]
[EventDate "2014.07.21"]

{Bu's next game was also over quickly.} 1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. Qc2 (4.
Qb3 {is similar to 4.Qc2, only that it avoids the continuation Black opted for
in the game.}) 4... g6 5. Bf4 Bg7 6. e3 O-O 7. Nc3 Na6 $6 (7... c5 $1 8. dxc5
Qa5 {is equal - compared to the Grunfeld, White has the extra move Qc2, but it
doesn't help him as the queen is quite vulnerable (to ...Bf5 for example).} 9.
Rd1 dxc4 10. Bxc4 Qxc5 {and Black has absolutely no problems.}) 8. Be2 dxc4 9.
Bxc4 Nb4 10. Qb3 Nbd5 11. Be5 b5 $2 {This simply weakens Black's pawn
structure beyond repair.} (11... Nb6 {had to be tried, though} 12. Be2 Be6 13.
Qc2 {is still plus over equals due to White's central control.}) 12. Bxd5 Nxd5
13. Bxg7 Kxg7 14. O-O a5 15. Rfc1 a4 16. Qc2 {Black can't get in ...c5 or ...
e5 to challenge White's centre and is left with a weak c6-pawn and c5-square.}
a3 17. Ne5 Bb7 18. Ne4 b4 $2 {This is a mistake, but other continuations would
leave White positionally much better too.} (18... f6 19. Nd3 Qc7 20. Nec5 Bc8
21. b3 {is an illustration of that - Black cannot do anything.}) 19. Nc5 Qc7
20. e4 axb2 21. Qxb2 Nf6 22. Qxb4 {Black's resignation is hardly premature.}
1-0 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Politiken Cup 2014"]
[Site "Helsingor DEN"]
[Date "2014.07.22"]
[Round "3.3"]
[White "Smirnov, Anton"]
[Black "Bu, Xiangzhi"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C41"]
[WhiteElo "2334"]
[BlackElo "2693"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r1b1rbk1/pp3pp1/2p4p/2n5/8/1N2BPPP/PPP3B1/3RR1K1 b - - 0 17"]
[PlyCount "51"]
[EventDate "2014.07.21"]

{Anton performed very well in this tournament, securing his final IM norm, but
Bu was in a class of his own in this tournament and outplayed Anton from what
on the surface seems an equal endgame.} 17... Na4 $1 {Suddenly it is quite
hard to defend the queenside pawns without going all passive.} 18. Bf2 $5 {
This idea of sacrificing the pawn to get active is a good one, with only one
problem - Black doesn't have to take the pawn immediately!} (18. Bd4 Bf5 19.
Rxe8 Rxe8 20. Rd2 c5 21. Bc3 Nxc3 22. bxc3 Re3 {indicates the difficulties
White has in maintaining material equality with a passive defence.}) 18... Bf5
$1 (18... Rxe1+ 19. Rxe1 Nxb2 20. Re8 {gives White full compensation as
Black's pieces are in prison.}) 19. Nd4 Bh7 20. f4 ({or} 20. g4 Nxb2 21. Rxe8
Rxe8 22. Rb1 Ba3 23. f4 a6 24. f5 {transposing to the game.}) 20... Nxb2 21.
Rxe8 Rxe8 22. Rb1 Ba3 23. f5 {With the same idea as in the previous variation.}
a6 24. g4 c5 (24... g6 {to free the bishop was also eminently valid.}) 25. Nb3
b6 26. Bb7 $2 {Now it is easy for Bu.} (26. Nd2 {was the last chance,
activating the knight at all costs. Black is better, but if he plays the
tempting} Re2 (26... Rd8 $1) 27. Nf1 Rxc2 28. Ne3 Rd2 {,} 29. Be1 Re2 30. Bf2 {
with the threat of Bf1 Rd2 Be1 Rd7 Nc2 returns the game to equilibrium.}) 26...
g6 27. Bxa6 gxf5 28. Bb5 Re7 29. Bh4 Re3 {Now Black is up too much material.
White tries a trick, but to no avail.} 30. Bf6 $1 fxg4 31. Bxb2 Bxc2 32. Rc1
Bxb3 33. Bxa3 Bxa2 {and Black comes out with the goods as Bb2 runs into the ...
Rb3 fork.} 34. Bxc5 (34. Bb2 Rb3) 34... bxc5 35. hxg4 Re5 36. Kf2 Be6 37. Be2
Kg7 38. Bf3 c4 39. Kg3 Rc5 40. Rc3 Kf6 41. Kf4 Rb5 42. Rc1 Rb4 0-1 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Politiken Cup 2014"]
[Site "Helsingor DEN"]
[Date "2014.07.23"]
[Round "4.3"]
[White "Bu, Xiangzhi"]
[Black "Gao, Rui"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A15"]
[WhiteElo "2693"]
[BlackElo "2529"]
[PlyCount "65"]
[EventDate "2014.07.21"]

{I've included the whole game so you can enjoy the interesting adventures of
Black's rook, but I won't analyse it closely.} 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. b3 Bg7 4.
Bb2 c5 5. e3 O-O 6. Be2 b6 7. O-O Bb7 8. d4 cxd4 9. Qxd4 d6 10. Rd1 Nbd7 11.
Qh4 Rc8 12. Nc3 Rc5 $5 {This is actually a typical idea in a related line of
the Double Fianchetto system (where White has played g3/Bg2 instead of e3/Be2,
and kept the bishop on the c1-h6 diagonal) to meet Bh6 with ...Rh5. But here
it doesn't seem so purposeful.} 13. Ba3 Rh5 14. Qg3 h6 15. h4 {The rook is
quite amusing on h5, but how is it getting back?} Nc5 16. Nd2 Rf5 17. Rac1 Qa8
18. f3 g5 {Trying to activate the rook, but even here it's not easy to make
sense of Black's formation. The rook manoeuvre has just killed the flexibility
normally associated with this pawn structure.} 19. e4 gxh4 20. Qxh4 Rh5 21. Qf2
Ne6 22. f4 Ra5 23. Bb4 Ng4 {White to play and win.} 24. Qg3 $1 Ne3 (24... Bd4+
25. Kf1 {snaps the knight on g4.}) 25. Re1 Kh8 (25... Ra6 {is too horrible to
even consider.}) 26. Bxa5 Rg8 {Black goes into swindle mode, but White has
everything covered.} 27. Kh1 Nxf4 28. Qxf4 Nxg2 29. Qxf7 Qc8 30. Qh5 Nf4 31.
Qh4 bxa5 32. Qxf4 Rf8 33. Qg4 1-0 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Politiken Cup 2014"]
[Site "Helsingor DEN"]
[Date "2014.07.24"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Negi, Parimarjan"]
[Black "Bu, Xiangzhi"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C42"]
[WhiteElo "2645"]
[BlackElo "2693"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "4r3/kp1qr1pb/p1p2p1p/3p2nP/P2P2P1/1PR2PB1/1KPQR3/5B2 w - - 0 28"]
[PlyCount "30"]
[EventDate "2014.07.21"]

{Bu had been under some pressure in this game after his Petroff didn't go so
solidly as planned, but from here the game took a very strange turn.} 28. a5 (
28. Rce3 Rxe3 29. Rxe3 {is obviously better for White, but I'm not entirely
sure how he wins if Black just sits tight.}) 28... Rxe2 29. Bxe2 Qe7 {Black
has taken the only open e-file and for this reason should be absolutely fine.}
30. Bxa6 $4 {A strange blunder; I think Negi just missed 31...Ne6.} (30. Bd1 {
was the correct continuation, with equality.}) 30... Kxa6 31. Re3 Ne6 {Now it
is very easy for Bu.} 32. c4 (32. Rxe6 Qxe6 33. Qb4 c5 34. Qxc5 Qc6 {forces
the queen off to win easily.}) 32... dxc4 33. bxc4 Qd8 34. c5 Nxd4 $1 {
Returning the piece to collect all the pawns is the easiest way to convert.}
35. Rxe8 Qxe8 36. Qxd4 Qe2+ 37. Ka1 Qc2 38. Qb2 Qd1+ 39. Ka2 Bg8+ 40. Ka3 Qxf3+
41. Ka4 Qxg4+ 42. Qb4 Qd1+ 0-1 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Politiken Cup 2014"]
[Site "Helsingor DEN"]
[Date "2014.07.25"]
[Round "6.1"]
[White "Bu, Xiangzhi"]
[Black "Matlakov, Maxim"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A07"]
[WhiteElo "2693"]
[BlackElo "2685"]
[PlyCount "22"]
[EventDate "2014.07.21"]

{There is nothing important to say about the following quick draw, which gave
two other players the chance to catch Bu in the standings.} 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Bg4
3. Bg2 e6 4. O-O Nd7 5. d4 Ngf6 6. Nbd2 h6 7. c4 c6 8. b3 Be7 9. Bb2 O-O 10. a3
a5 11. Nh4 Bh5 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Politiken Cup 2014"]
[Site "Helsingor DEN"]
[Date "2014.07.26"]
[Round "7.1"]
[White "Rodshtein, Maxim"]
[Black "Bu, Xiangzhi"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2671"]
[BlackElo "2693"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "6r1/4b3/p3k3/1p2p3/4N2p/1PPKB1nP/P7/6R1 w - - 0 39"]
[PlyCount "54"]
[EventDate "2014.07.21"]

{One thing I noticed in this tournament is that Bu was quite happy to reach
positions with Black where he was slightly worse, but solid with plenty of
scope to outplay the opponent. He's not the only top player to do this, but it
is rare that it works so effectively in an open tournament.} 39. Nd2 $2 {Now
Black can penetrate White's territory and cause some problems.} (39. Bc5 {
follows the general principle of simplifying when under pressure, and would
have maintained the balance (just).}) 39... Rd8+ (39... Rc8) 40. Kc2 Rc8 {
Curiously it was probably better to play ...Rc8 immediately, so that when
Black plays ...Kf5, ...e4 comes with check.} 41. Re1 Kf5 42. Bf2 Rc6 $6 (42...
Bc5 $5 43. Bxc5 Rxc5 {to prepare the advance of the e-pawn with ...e4, ...Kf4
and ...e3 was a more pressing try.}) 43. Nf3 $1 Bf6 44. Re3 $1 {The best
defence, as now Nxh4 isn't easy to prevent, but Black keeps practical chances
anyway because of the passed e-pawn.} e4 $1 45. Nxh4+ Bxh4 46. Bxg3 Bxg3 47.
Rxg3 Kf4 48. Rg8 e3 49. Rd8 $2 {This loses way too much time. White wants to
be able to bring the king to the defence without running into a rook check on
the d-file, but it isn't worth it.} (49. Kd1 $1 Rxc3 50. Rf8+ Ke4 51. Re8+ Kf3
52. Rf8+ Kg3 53. Rh8 {is just a draw as the Black king has no shield from
checks now that his pawn advanced to the 3rd rank.}) 49... Kf3 50. Kd1 Rg6 $1 {
Black prepares to kick the White king out to set up a Lucena position (with
the king in front of the pawn).} 51. Rf8+ Ke4 52. a4 (52. Re8+ Kd3 53. Rd8+
Kxc3 {also doesn't help.}) (52. c4 {was correct, exchanging as many pawns as
possible:} Rg1+ 53. Ke2 Rg2+ 54. Ke1 Rxa2 ({or} 54... b4 55. Re8+ Kd4 56. Rd8+
Kc3 57. c5) 55. cxb5 axb5 56. Re8+ Kd3 57. Rd8+ Kc3 58. Re8 Kxb3 59. Rxe3+ {
and this is just a draw (though without the White h-pawn it would be a win for
Black).}) 52... Rg1+ 53. Ke2 Rg2+ 54. Ke1 Kd3 55. Rd8+ Kxc3 56. axb5 axb5 57.
h4 $2 {The decisive mistake.} (57. Re8 Rg3 58. Rh8 Kxb3 59. h4 {draws for
White - the h-pawn gives just enough counterplay to tie up Black's rook from
shepherding the b-pawn.}) 57... Rh2 58. Rh8 Kxb3 59. h5 b4 {The key difference
here is that the White king is cut off to the edge of the board.} 60. h6 Kb2
61. Rb8 b3 62. Rh8 Kb1 63. Kd1 b2 64. h7 Rd2+ 65. Ke1 Rd7 {White resigned as
Black will play ...Rc7, ...Kc1 and queen his pawn.} 0-1 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Politiken Cup 2014"]
[Site "Helsingor DEN"]
[Date "2014.07.27"]
[Round "8.1"]
[White "Bu, Xiangzhi"]
[Black "Moiseenko, Alexander"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A17"]
[WhiteElo "2693"]
[BlackElo "2707"]
[PlyCount "45"]
[EventDate "2014.07.21"]

{The following game saw quite an interesting positional duel in the early
middlegame, so I've concentrated on that phase.} 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4
4. Qc2 {White delays d4 to reduce Black's options, and also make his pawn
structure more flexible.} d6 5. g3 c5 6. Bg2 Nc6 7. O-O O-O 8. e3 e5 9. b3 Bxc3
10. Qxc3 {I would slightly prefer White because of the bishop pair, but
Black's position is quite harmonious and solid, so making use of this edge
isn't easy.} Bg4 {This is aimed against the opening of the position with d4.}
11. h3 Bxf3 12. Bxf3 e4 $5 {Ambitious, maybe too ambitious actually.} (12...
Qd7 13. Bg2 b6 {with the idea of ...d5 was the most robust continuation - it
might seem strange to open things up for the bishop pair, but after} 14. Qc2 d5
15. cxd5 Nxd5 {Black's extra space makes up for that.}) 13. Bg2 Ne5 14. Bb2 Qd7
(14... Nd3 $2 {would fail to} 15. Bxe4 {.}) 15. Qc2 Rfe8 16. d3 {This is only
a temporary pawn sacrifice.} (16. Bxe5 Rxe5 17. d3 exd3 18. Qxd3 {however was
more accurate, when White has the better pawn structure and minor piece, and
can press on the queenside with a b4 break or even a kingside pawn advance
with f4 and g4-g5.}) 16... exd3 17. Qd2 Qf5 18. Rad1 Ne4 19. Bxe4 Qxe4 20. Bxe5
dxe5 21. Qxd3 Qxd3 22. Rxd3 {Now Black would be fine if he exchanged one pair
of rooks, but he failed to do so and was under heavy pressure, eventually
losing the game.} Re7 $2 (22... Rad8 23. Rfd1 Rxd3 24. Rxd3 Kf8 {holds the
position together as now} 25. Rd7 Re7 26. Rd5 b6 {leads nowhere for White.})
23. Rfd1 {White is clearly better and went on to win.} 1-0 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Politiken Cup 2014"]
[Site "Helsingor DEN"]
[Date "2014.07.28"]
[Round "9.1"]
[White "Jones, Gawain C B"]
[Black "Bu, Xiangzhi"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C43"]
[WhiteElo "2665"]
[BlackElo "2693"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "5rk1/pp3p2/6p1/1B5p/7P/1Pb5/2P2PP1/1K1R4 w - - 0 27"]
[PlyCount "58"]
[EventDate "2014.07.21"]

{Gawain had missed a good chance or two earlier in the game, and Black clearly
has the nicer position, but you would think that White would hold quite easily
because of the opposite-coloured bishops. However, Bu manages to squeeze out a
win in Carlsen style.} 27. Rd7 Re8 {Threatening ...Re1-a1 mate.} 28. Ka2 Re1
29. b4 Re4 $1 {The best try as} (29... Bxb4 30. Rxb7 {followed by Bc4 is very
easy for White to defend.}) 30. Rxb7 Rxb4 31. Bc6 Rxb7 32. Bxb7 Be1 {Black
wins a pawn, but since he only has one passed pawn (and it is well blockaded),
it should still be a draw.} 33. f3 Bxh4 34. Kb3 Bg3 35. Kc4 f5 36. Kb5 $2 {The
king is too passive here.} (36. Ba6 $1 Kf7 37. Kd5 {and Bb5 was correct, when
White sets up a fortress:} h4 38. c4 Bf4 39. c5 Ke7 40. Bd3 {and Black is
unable to create the required second passed pawn.}) 36... Kf7 37. c4 h4 38. c5
Ke6 39. Bc6 (39. Bc8+ Ke5 40. c6 Kd4 41. Be6 Ke3 42. f4 Bxf4 43. Ka6 Kf2 44.
Bd5 g5 {is also winning for Black, in similar fashion to the game.}) 39... Bf2
$1 {Now it is quite a problem that White can't bring the bishop back to b5, or
for that matter bring his king back quickly to cover the advance of Black's
kingside pawns.} 40. f4 Be3 41. Be8 Kf6 42. Kc6 Bxf4 {With the f-pawn gone,
Black will get two passed pawns on the kingside, and will win even without the
dark-squared bishop (which will give its life for the White c-pawn).} 43. Kb7
g5 44. Kxa7 g4 45. Kb6 Ke5 46. Kb5 Kd4 47. Bd7 h3 48. gxh3 gxh3 49. Bc6 h2 50.
Bh1 Bb8 51. Kc6 f4 52. Kb7 Kxc5 53. Kxb8 Kd4 54. Kc7 Ke3 55. Kd6 f3 {White
resigned. With this win Bu had already secured first place, and his score
before the last round was an incredible 8.5/9.} 0-1 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Politiken Cup 2014"]
[Site "Helsingor DEN"]
[Date "2014.07.29"]
[Round "10.1"]
[White "Bu, Xiangzhi"]
[Black "Rapport, Richard"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D02"]
[WhiteElo "2693"]
[BlackElo "2701"]
[PlyCount "163"]
[EventDate "2014.07.21"]

{I've run out of time to analyse this final-round game - which wasn't so
important anyway as even if Bu had lost, he would still have finished in
outright first (as his nearest pursuers, one point behind, didn't win). Thanks
for reading and see you in the next column!} 1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Bf5 3. c4 e6 4.
Nc3 Nf6 5. Bg5 c6 6. cxd5 exd5 7. Qb3 Qb6 8. Bxf6 gxf6 9. e3 Na6 10. Nh4 Qxb3
11. axb3 Nb4 12. Kd2 Be6 13. Be2 b6 14. g3 a5 15. Na4 Rb8 16. Rac1 Rg8 17. Rhd1
Kd7 18. f4 Kc7 19. Bh5 Rg7 20. Ke2 Re8 21. Kf2 Bc8 22. Nc3 Kb7 23. Bf3 f5 24.
Bh5 Rd8 25. Be2 Be7 26. Nf3 h5 27. Rg1 Rh8 28. Nb1 Na2 29. Rcd1 Rh6 30. Nbd2
Nb4 31. Nb1 Na6 32. Bxa6+ Kxa6 33. Nbd2 Kb7 34. Ne5 Be6 35. Rc1 c5 36. Nd3 cxd4
37. exd4 h4 38. Nf3 Rgh7 39. Ng5 hxg3+ 40. hxg3 Rg7 41. Rh1 Rxh1 42. Rxh1 Bxg5
43. fxg5 Rxg5 44. Nf4 Rg8 45. Re1 Re8 46. Re3 Kc6 47. Ke2 Kd6 48. Kd2 Rh8 49.
Re5 Rh2+ 50. Re2 Rh1 51. Re1 Rh2+ 52. Re2 Rh6 53. Re3 Rh7 54. Re5 Rg7 55. Re3
Rg8 56. Kc2 Bd7 57. Kd2 b5 58. Kc2 Be6 59. Kd2 Rh8 60. Re5 Rh2+ 61. Re2 Rh1 62.
Re1 Rh7 63. Re5 Rh8 64. Re3 Rg8 65. Kc2 Rd8 66. Kd2 b4 67. Re1 Rh8 68. Re5 Rg8
69. Re3 Bd7 70. Re5 Be6 71. Re3 Rg5 72. Nh3 Rg4 73. Nf4 Kd7 74. Kc2 Kd6 75. Kd2
Kc6 76. Nxe6 fxe6 77. Rxe6+ Kb5 78. Re5 Rxd4+ 79. Kc2 Kc5 80. Rxf5 Rg4 81. Rf3
Kd4 82. Kd2 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]