Thursday, November 30, 2006

Good Start in Play-Off

There is local saying that once a chess team drops from Central Serbia League, it is almost impossible to come back. This is exactly what happened to Radnicki Cuprija. The club was relegated to Regional Pomoravska League back in 2003. As there is always some local boss popping up with couple hundreds of euros buying players to take his team to the higher league, Radnicki had hard time coming back to where they belonged.

On 2005 I moved back to Cuprija and started to play for Radnicki again (I left the club on 1995). All of our players are amateurs gathering own money to pay the bills. Even if there is obligation to equally divide the funds, the corrupted members of Cuprija City Council are supporting only their pet clubs with money from the budget. Those pets are Football Club Morava, Handball Club and Chess Club Morava Supska (Radnicki beat them with 6-2 last two years).

Season of 2005 started bad, we lost in 1st round and couldn't catch the rivals anymore. I resigned as chairman and Vlada Stanisavljevic took the duty. It proved to be good move as he brought back another two of old members - Vladan Ilic (2167 FIDE) and Snezana Djordjevic.

In season of 2006 we won 8 matches and drew one to convincingly take first place in the Regional League. But that wasn't enough, there was another obstacle imposed by the system. In order to qualify for the higher league, we had to play two play-off matches against Radnicki Svilajnac, winner of the Regional Resavska League.

The first match was to be played on 26th November in Svilajnac. However, we were forced to change the winning lineup. Our first board Vladan Ilic couldn't travel as his wife is pregnant and he had to stay at home. Our female player Snezana Djordjevic got sick and we had to resign 7th board as we couldn't provide the replacement. The reliable 6th board player Goran Gajic was gone for vacation. Vlada Stanisavljevic and Sasa Gmitrovic had to jump in, but they both drew their games (Sasa was even exchange up and should have won) so we were happy with the overall win of 4.5-3.5. Rematch will be played on 3rd December in Cuprija.

Radnicki Svilajnac - Radnicki Cuprija 3.5-4.5
Doncic - Gajovic 1-0
Obradovic - Urosevic 0-1
Popovic - Milenkovic draw
Radivojevic - Novakovic 0-1
Milosevic - Stanisavljevic draw
Abdulic - Gmitrovic draw
Radovanovic - Djordjevic 1-0*
Simic - Cvetanovic 0-1

Doncic - Gajovic
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 0-0 5. Nf3 d6 6. Be2 e5 7. 0-0 Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. Nd2 Ne8 10. Nb3 f5 11. Bd2 f4?

I'm not sure if Nb3 is that good because it blocks advance of b-pawn, which has important role in White's queen-side attack. On the other hand, Black played Ne8 instead of normal Nd7 so Nb3 is sort of threatening c5. But f4 is big positional mistake and Dragan Gajovic wasn't aware what he has done until I told him later. He should have played Nf6 first, taking control of g4 square and pressing on e4 when White has nothing better than f3. Then, Black can proceed with the usual Kings Indian attack f4, g5, h5 etc.

12. Bg4!

Jumping on the opportunity. Light-squared Bishop is the weakest piece in this kind of White's setup against Kings Indian. Bc8 is valuable attacker, ready to be sacrificed on h3 or g4 and it also guards b7 pawn in some lines. White's king-side is much safer now. The trade is clearly favorable for White even if he is losing two tempos. For reference on complex of weak squares read Exchange Sacrifice, Complex of Squares and Methods Against Kings Indian.

12... h5 13. Bc8 Nc8?!

Another inaccuracy. The Knight is needed for operations on king-side after Nf6, g5, Ng6 etc

14. f3 Nb6?! 15. Qe2 c6?!

I can't remember if I have ever seen Black successfully playing on the queen-side in this variation. White's space is giving him clear advantage there. At this point, Dragan and I went outside for a smoke. He asked what I think about his position. I knew Black is much worse but I couldn't kill his motivation so I carefully softened "I think it's about equal. You shouldn't have traded light-squared bishops...". "Equal?", he interrupted me, "I think I'm better!". I know Dragan is big optimist, this attitude helped him win many tough games, but in this case, his usually reliable positional feeling completely failed. I shrugged and let him play on. He fought really hard but the opponent was too strong to drop the huge advantage and Dragan eventually lost.

Urosevic - Obradovic

I was playing White side of the Catalan opening on the 2nd board. Last year I beat this player fairly easy in Anti-Marshall so I wanted to try 1.d4 this time. To be honest, I don't know any theory in Catalan, but I wanted to keep pawn structure more flexible then in usual Queen's Gambit. This proved to be "brilliant strategy" as I played 10. c5 and had problems with that pawn through the most part of the game. The middlegame was complicated, we both made couple of small mistakes, but in general, my opponent played much better then last time. I wasn't anticipating such a strong display, most of his moves were matching Fritz's 1st choice, even if he never went to the toilet! Just proving what kind of idiot Silvio Danailov is....

Being shocked by previous good moves and afraid of more of that sort, I was spending alot of my time. With 5 minutes for the rest of the game I "blundered" the exchange. Actually, I was probably slightly better but I thought I had to give the rook for bishop to decline his mating threats. The position was probably in draw borders, but having extra 20 minutes on the clock, my opponent is trying to impose threats against the king and falls into the trap of not trading the queens. It's easy to overlook the danger when you're chasing opponent's king around.

In this position the king is finally safe and Obradovic should have started thinking about my a-pawn. The only move for him was to trade the queens with 43... Qg2 and then quickly play Ra1, f6 (or f5) and Kf7. With the retreat, he gives me crucial tempo.

43... Qf6 44. a5 h6?

Here he realized something was wrong. 44... Ra1 would run into 45. Qe4! with double threat of Qe8 and Bd4. 44... Qe6 was only move but White still keeps the advantage. I was in time trouble but my plan was clear.

45. a6 Ra1 46. a7 Qe6 47. b5!

Winning move that my opponent missed while allowing me to push the pawn to a7. Now he either loses c6 pawn to give me two connected passers or, like in the game, drops the rook for two pawns with 47... cb5 48. a8Q Ra8 49. Qa8. Later I won with advance of king-side pawns to g5 and combined threats on b5 and g7.

December 3rd Update: Radnicki Svilajnac didn't show up for rematch because two of their players had political obligations. Only 16 hours before the match start they have asked for postponement. Since we went to Svilajnac without 3 players, we have declined the offer. Our team showed up at the scheduled hour, and even then Svilajnac tried to use the influence of their good friend and regional chess federation secretary IA Rade Milosavljavic to postpone the match. Rade Milosavljevic, who is playing for Glavinci in same regional league, already screwed us last year, so this wasn't his first attempt to conflict with interests. League commissioner Voja Pavlovic refused to postpone the match and Radnicki Cuprija qualified for the higher league.

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