|Aldama Didn't Miss a Thing; Wins 2nd Metropolitan International|
|By GM Ian Rogers|
|August 20, 2012|
Gareyev--Aldama, 2nd Metropolitan International, 2012
Black to Move
With just six seconds left to his opponent's 20 in the tournament-deciding Armageddon game at the 2012 Metropolitan International in Los Angeles, Dionisio Aldama reluctantly accepted Timur Gareyev's draw offer, accepting that the magnificent Swarovski crystal winner's trophy would go to the top seed.
Aldama correctly decided that, given his time situation – no increment! - and his exposed king, his winning chances had disappeared and he had nothing better than taking a perpetual check on h5 and e2.
Upon the conclusion of the game Aldama looked baffled rather than triumphant and only seconds later one of the spectators could not help themselves, telling Aldama “You've won!”
Suddenly a grin broke out on Aldama's face – he suddenly woke up to the fact that in an Armageddon game, Black only needs to draw to win the game. The grin was not to leave the 43-year-old Mexican's visage for the duration of the award ceremony. When the arbiter announced that he was one foreign opponent short of completing a Grandmaster norm, Aldama just shrugged and kept smiling. GM norm or not, this was the biggest win of his career.
Gareyev, who recently changed federations from Uzbekhistan to the US, too late to be considered for the American team soon to fly to the Istanbul Olympiad, probably thought he had wrapped up the tournament in the penultimate round when he defeated co-leader Enrique Sevillano in the following fine game.
Los Angeles 2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f4 Bg7 8.Bb5+ Nfd7
Very few GMs are willing to test the piece sacrifice 8...Nbd7 nowadays; computer analysis has shown a clear path to a slight advantage for White.
9.a4 0–0 10.Nf3 Na6 11.0–0 Nb4 12.Re1 a6 13.Bf1 Nf6?!
A serious inaccuracy in a line which is fiendishly difficult to play for Black.
13...Re8 is the most accurate move, intending to meet 14.h3 with 14...b6 and 14.Be3 with 14...Nf6 15.Bf2 Nh5 16.Qd2 Bg4.
14.h3 Re8 15.Bc4 Nd7
Sevillano could find no other way to prevent 16.e5, but must now accept near total passivity.
16.Be3 b6 17.Qd2 Bb7 18.Bf2 Bh6 19.Bh4 f6 20.Rf1 Ne5 21.Nxe5 dxe5 22.Bg3 Kg7 23.Rf2 Qd6
24.Raf1 exf4 25.Rxf4!! Bxf4
25...Rf8 26.Qf2! leads to similar positions.
Valiantly attempting to maintain his dark squared blockade 26...Qd8 27.Bh6+ Kh8 28.Qf4! is already close to disaster.
27.Nd1! g5 28.Bg3 Rd8 29.Ne3 Bc8
30.Rf5! Rde8 31.Be2! Qd8 32.Bxe5! fxe5 33.Bh5! Rf8 34.Rxf8 Qxf8 35.Nc4
All those tactics for 'just' a positional advantage, though even here Gareyev finishes with aplomb.
35...Qf6 36.d6 Be6 37.Nxb6 Nc6 38.d7 Nd4 39.Qf2 Qe7 40.Be8 a5 41.Nd5 Qd8 42.Nf6! Ne2+ 43.Qxe2 Kxf6 44.Qf2+ Kg7 45.Qxc5 1–0
This win put Gareev half a point clear of Aldama, Alex Shabalov and Varuzhan Akobian. Since Akobian took half point byes in the final two rounds (to attend the US pre-Olympiad camp in Saint Louis) and Aldama had Black against the in-form GM-elect Sevillano to come, Gareev thought he was safe in agreeing a short draw with White against Shabalov. (Shabalov was the only top player to attempt the US Open - Metro International double and was therefore, not surprisingly, rather tired and agreeable to a quick adjournment to the Radisson Hotel bar.)
Meanwhile, back at the playing hall...
Los Angeles 2012
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.g3 Nf6 7.Bg2 Bb4 8.0–0!?
8.Nde2 is more sober.
8...Bxc3 9.bxc3 d6 10.Ba3
10...Nbd7 seems less risky, but then follows 11.Nf5!! exf5 12.Bxd6 followed by 13.exf5 and Black will be lucky to survive.
11.e5! dxe5! 12.Nb3!?
12.Bxf8 exd4 13.Ba3 would be reasonable for White but Sevillano wants more.
Aldama desperately wants Sevillano to give up his dark-squared bishop and rejects 12...Rd8 13.Qe2 as just what his opponent wants.
The interpolation of 13.Bd6!! would have exposed Black's strategy as a little too risky. Because the b7 square needs defending, Black can do no better than 13...Qc8 after which .Bxf8 Kxf8 15.Qd6+ leads to a big White initiative.
13...Kxf8 14.Qc1 Bc6 15.Qa3+ Qe7 16.Qxe7+ Kxe7 17.Rfe1 Bxg2 18.Kxg2 Nc6
Black has only one pawn for the exchange but holds all the positional trumps.
19.Nc5 b6 20.Nd3 e4 21.Nb4
21...Ne5 would allow 22.Nd3!? but now White's knight is pushed back into oblivion.
22.a3 a5 23.Na2 Nbd7
The rest is easy for Black who can slowly improve his position while White sits and waits for the hammer to fall.
24.Rab1 Rc8 25.h3 Rc6 26.Kf1 Ne5 27.Re2 Nc4 28.a4 Nd7 29.Nc1 Nc5 30.Ra1 Nb2 31.Nb3 Nbxa4 32.Nxc5 Nxc5 33.Ree1 f5 34.Ke2 Nd7 35.Ra3 Nf6 36.Rb1 Nd5 37.Kd2 Kd6 38.h4 g6 39.Rbb3 e3+ 40.fxe3 Nf6 41.Rb5 Ne4+ 42.Kd3 Nxg3 43.c4 Ne4 44.Kd4 Kc7 0–1
A wonderful positional performance by Aldama which left Sevillano baffled as to what had gone wrong.
An hour later Aldama found himself sitting opposite Gareyev for the fateful Armageddon game – 6 minutes versus 5. For an Armageddon game, the level of play was stunning; we pick up the game on move 24 with Aldama seeking to avoid being ground down along the d file.
Los Angeles 2012
Position after White's 24th move
24...d5! 25.cxd5 Nxd5! 26.Nxf5! Rxf5 27.Qxc6
The situation looks critical for Black, a pawn down and pinned along the d file, but Aldama has not finished with the tricks.
Deciding to walk into Black's trap – faced with threats of 29...Nb4 and 29...Ndxf4!, Gareyev makes the practical choice.
29...Ne7! 30.Qe6 Nxd5 31.Bd3 Nxf4! 32.Nxf4 Rxf4 33.Rxf4 Rxf4 34.Qe8+ Rf8 35.Qxe3 Rd8 36.Kh1 Qf6
With less than half a minute for the rest of the game, Aldama had no time to find subtleties such as 36...Qg5!; his job is to hang on, keep his king safe and avoid losing on time.
37.Qe4 Qg7 38.a4 a5 39.b3 Rb8 40.Bc4 Rd8 41.Kg2 Qb2+ 42.Kh3 Qf6 43.Qg4 Rf8 44.Bd3 Re8 45.Bf5 Rf8 46.Be4 Qg5
In retrospect, 47.Qd1 would almost certainly have won the game on time but Gareyev accidentally allows a perpetual check.
47...Qh5+ 48.Kg2 Qe2+ 49.Kh3
As mentioned above, Aldama avoided losing on time by taking the draw, and then discovered to his surprise that he had won the tournament.
Stand-alone International open tournaments (not associated with national title events) have been rare birds on the west coast – so rare that one even had a movie made about it.
However for the second time in a year Ankit Gupta and the Metropolitan Chess Club have found the necessary sponsorship to attract a field capable of allowing some of the US's best young players to try for international title norms.
Gupta, and his efficient team of arbiters, Randy Hough and Damien Nash, could boast a fine field, with 10 GMs, 11 IMs and no less than 14 of the west coast's outstanding players aged under 16, many of whom already could claim title norms (some from the first Metropolitan International).
Add to that a fine venue – the ballroom at the LAX Radisson, an impressive prize fund and the remarkable crystal trophy to go with the $5,000 first prize and some inspired chess was not surprising.
(Pitting packs of hungry juniors against established players helps as well, and in LA more than one GM was forced to lower his colours to a young gun.)
Unfortunately a spate of late withdrawals by foreign players left fewer than 20 non-US competitors in the field – the magic number given by the world body FIDE which allows an organiser to disregard the 4 foreign opponent rule usually required for title results.
As a result, Aldama and others who played at the required level for a title result but had been paired against only 3 non-US players could not earn a title norm.
The only player who jumped through all FIDE's hoops and thereby scored his third and final IM norm was Utah's brightest hope, 14-year-old Kayden Troff.
Troff was on track early in the tournament when he beat GM Mesgen Amanov in a sharp third round game.
Los Angeles 2012
Position after Black's 34th move
Amanov, after refusing a move repetition early in the game, has gambled on an exchange sacrifice, against which Troff defended well.
Now the Turkmen GM has one chance to save the game, by sacrificing again with .g5!! Bxf3 36.gxf6+ Kd7 37.Bxf3 Qxf3 38.Qh7+ when Black cannot avoid perpetual check in view of 38...Kc6! 39.Qc2+.
Missing this, Amanov soon runs out of counterplay and Troff cleans up efficiently.
35.Kg3? 35...Bxf3 36.Qh7+ Kd6 37.Bxf3 Qxd4 38.Qxb7 Rc2 39.Qa6+ Ke7 40.Qf1 Rxb2 41.Kg2 e5 42.Qe1 Qd2 43.Qf1 f5 44.gxf5 Qg5+ 45.Kh2 Qf4+ 46.Kg2 e4 47.f6+ Kxf6 48.Be2 Qd2 49.Qd1 Qxd1 50.Bxd1 Rd2 51.Ba4 e3 0–1
Securing norms at the Metro International was made more difficult by the peculiarly American habit of allowing players to go home early for almost any reason. Four of the ten GMs did not complete their 9 games. Akobian and Amanov took byes to finish the tournament due to pre-Olympiad commitments. Dejan Bojkov, retired tired after eight rounds, although he would happily have played his final round game if it might have helped a player who needed a foreigner. However Robert Hess, second seed, was able to leave after seven rounds - with the organizers' approval – because his poor score was costing him too many rating points.
Coming from the country where legendary teacher Cecil Purdy propounded the theory that the only completely acceptable reason for leaving a tournament was a death certificate, the US attitude to withdrawals has always baffled me. Something to do with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I guess.
To finish, a game from the Under 2100 division, Simone Sobel winning convincingly.
Los Angeles 2012
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.Bd2 Nh6!? 6.f4?!
The immediate 6.Nb5 makes more sense.
6...Nc6 7.Nb5 Bxd2+ 8.Qxd2 0–0 9.Nf3 a6 10.Nd6 cxd4 11.Nxd4 f6! 12.Be2 fxe5 13.Nxc6 bxc6 14.fxe5 Nf5 15.Nxc8 Rxc8 16.Bxa6?
Far too greedy. After 16.0-0-0 (perhaps better played on move 12), it is still game on.
Now White cannot castle on either flank due to 16...Qb6 – the answer to White's best try 17.Bd3 as well. As played White's position quickly goes downhill.
17.b3?! Qh4+ 18.Qf2 Qe4+ 19.Qe2 Ne3! 20.Kd2 Qxc2+! 21.Kxe3 d4+ 22.Kxd4 Rbd8+ 23.Ke3 Qc5+ 24.Ke4 Qd4 Checkmate! 0–1