14 March, 2012

Candidates 2012

Yes, while FIDE upsets various established tournaments with the announcements of the FIDE Candidates taking place later this year , the Candidates for the T9030 website kicked off last week.

As a former group winner ( although I think I only played about 3 or 4 games to qualify, as one of the 4 in my group 'dropped out' ) I was eligible to join, so this time around, I did !

The pairings meant that I ended up against a player significantly higher-rated than me ( some 300 or more points :) and quite honestly, having switched to a Friday night at my opponent's request, I wasn't really in the best physical and mental state to play after a week's work.

( As an aside, this reminded me of an observation from Nigel Davies, that his best 'improvement' advice to one of his students was not to play when he was tired, ie during the week, but rather on a weekend when he was rested and prepared : very sound and simple advice ! )

Regardless, after sacrificing at the altar of Caissa, I set down to play in as spirited and adventurous a style as I could. In my opinion, it would be pointless trying to play a defensive match, or for a draw.

I actually did well enough, both in recalling opening preparation to a variation I had not met before and in obtaining a decent position in the middle game. However, offering what turned out to be a very unsound sacrifice ( which my opponent turned down, thus giving it at least some value in psychological terms ) was not the most sensible method of play !

I was overcome with chess-blindness, thinking my opponent had played a very bad d6, when in fact he had pulled out the very sensible d5 !

Admittedly, even in hindsight I had the option to "unpick" my unsound sacrifice, and stay in the game, albeit at a disadvantage, but mis-reading d6 and playing without fully thinking was my true mistake.

My dubious reply sealed my fate, and despite provocative attempts on my part to force errors, Black played sensible and solid moves, to which I eventually resigned !

Never-the-less, lessons learned in the game, and in the later analysis of it, were useful in my game the following day, and overall, I did enjoy it !

So, as White, which would you choose ?

Which move? f5, Ng5 or Nf2