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Pamplona

The annual GM tournament in Pamplona led to a four-way tie for first place on 6/9.
The four highest rated players Meier, Granda Zuniga, Laznicka and Kiril Georgiev were equal first.

The most striking aspect of this tournament concerned last placed Michel Huerga who only scored 1/9. However a couple of weeks earlier he had won the similar strength Elgoibar GM round robin whilst remaining unbeaten!

Here he came under the cosh as the following two games illustrate:

Georg Meier (2653) - Mikel Huerga Leache (2435)

Pamplona (Magistral 1) 21.12.2009

Reti Opening (A07)

1.♘f3 d5 2.g3 ♗g4 3.♗g2 ♘d7 4.c4 e6 5.cxd5 exd5 6.h3 ♗xf3 7.♗xf3

Meier seems to prefer 'strategic-technical' play and here he shows great patience in gradually getting his bishop pair to shine.

7...♘gf6 8.0-0 c6 9.♗g2 ♗c5 10.d3 0-0 11.e3 a5 12.♕c2 ♖e8 13.a3 ♗f8 14.b3

Slowly does it! In fact speed isn't an issue if the opponent has no real counterplay.

14...♘c5 15.♘d2 ♕b6 16.♗b2 ♘fd7

After 16...♕a6 Meier would have been happy to play 17.♗xf6 gxf6 18.d4 with the superior structure.

17.♖fb1 ♘e6 18.h4!

Another useful little move as his bishop now has the option of coming to h3.

18...♕c5 19.♕d1

As Black is going nowhere in the middlegame there is no reason to exchange queens.

19...♕b5 20.♗f1 h6 21.♘f3 ♕b6 22.♗h3 ♘dc5 23.b4!

Finally showing his hand.

23...axb4 24.axb4 ♖xa1

White would be better after 24...♕xb4 25.♗xg7 ♖xa1 26.♗xa1 as he can generate lasting pressure e.g. 26...♕a4 (26...♕a5 27.d4 ♘e4 28.♖xb7) 27.♕xa4 ♘xa4 28.♖xb7 (or 28.♘e5!? when Black's pieces are poorly placed) 28...♘ac5 29.♖b6 ♘xd3 30.♖xc6 with an extra pawn.

25.♗xa1 ♘d7 26.♘d4 ♕d8

26...♘xd4?? loses as 27.♗xd7 ♖d8 28.♗xd4 hits the queen.

27.♘xe6 fxe6 28.♗c3 ♗d6 29.♖a1

The bishops have lovely diagonals, but for Black things are not yet too bad as his position remains solid.

29...♘f6?!

My feeling is that this quiet move is a mistake and that the time has come for Black to do something more positive.

I quite like 29...♗e5, as 30.d4 looks like a concession (blocking his own bishop) and 30.♗xe5 ♘xe5 31.f4 ♘f7 would be simpler to defend than in the game.

Another way would be 29...e5 30.b5 ♘c5 with some activity as well as keeping things solid.

30.b5! c5

After 30...cxb5 31.♕b3 White regains the pawn and Black is left with a sickly b7-pawn, enough in itself to ensure a white advantage, for example 31...b4 32.♗xb4 ♕b6 33.♖b1 ♗xb4 34.♕xb4 ♕xb4 35.♖xb4 ♖e7 with three pawn islands to probe (against one) White will be able to relentlessly press away.

31.♖a7 ♕b8 32.b6

The b7-pawn is still a weakness.

32...e5

A loosening move that shows that things have started to turn sour.

33.e4!

Fixing Black's pawns on dark squares thus ensuring that he is stuck with a bad bishop and vulnerable light squares.

33...d4 34.♕b3+ ♔h8 35.♗d2 ♖e7 36.♕a2

With a strong threat (♖-a8)!

36...♕f8 37.♗f5 ♗b8 38.♖a8 ♖e8 39.♕c4

The attention now switches to the c-pawn.

39...♕e7 40.♗c1 ♗d6 41.♕a4 ♕f8 42.♖xe8 ♕xe8 43.♕a7!

When in doubt, keeping the pieces on the board is often the solution. Here this is the case as after 43.♕xe8+ ♘xe8 44.♗c8 ♘f6!, the natural 45.♗xb7 is well met by 45...♘d7.

43...c4

A desperate attempt at obtaining some breathing space. After the docile 43...♕e7 the strongest is 44.♕a8+ (although 44.♗c8 is reasonable) 44...♘g8 45.♕c8 with ♗-e6 threatened.

44.dxc4 ♗c5 45.♕xb7 ♕d8 46.♕c7 ♗xb6 47.♕xe5 ♗a5

47...d3 48.♗d2 leaves Black with nothing for his two pawns.

48.♕e6 d3 49.e5 ♘h7 50.♗xd3! ♕xd3 51.♕e8+ ♘f8 52.♕xf8+ ♔h7 53.♕f4

1-0

Georg Meier, first on tie-break! © official site from Khanty Mansiysk

Viktor Laznicka (2637) - Mikel Huerga Leache (2435)

Pamplona (Magistral 7) 27.12.2009

Chebanenko Slav (D15)

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.♘f3 ♘f6 4.♘c3 a6 5.c5 ♘bd7 6.♗f4 ♘h5 7.♗d2 ♘hf6 8.♕c2 e5?!

Somewhat risky. Instead 8...g6 has a better reputation, when Black only plays for this break after completing kingside development.

9.dxe5 ♘g4 10.♘a4 ♘gxe5

Here 10...♕e7!? has been tried, but it may not be much better: 11.♗g5 ♕e6 12.♗f4! (12.e3 h6 13.♘d4 ♕xe5 14.♗f4 ♕f6 15.h3 ♘ge5 16.♗e2 g6 17.0-0 ♗g7 18.b4 left White with only a slight pull in Lautier-Volkov, Blitz 2004) 12...♘gxe5 13.♘xe5 ♘xe5 14.♘b6 ♖b8 15.0-0-0 and I don't like Black's position at all.

11.0-0-0!

White is now well ahead in development and threatens quick action along the d-file with e2-e4 in mind.

11...♘xf3?!

This leads to White obtaining attacking chances along the g-file.

Instead after 11...♘g4!? White just gets on with it: 12.e4! (even the cautious 12.♗e1 ♗e7 13.e4 ♘gf6 14.♗d3 should also be worth an edge) 12...♘gf6 (12...♘xf2? is too risky because of 13.♗g5 ♕a5 14.exd5!) 13.♗g5 ♗e7 14.♗xf6 ♘xf6 15.♘b6 ♖b8 16.exd5 cxd5 17.♗c4 ♗e6 18.♘xd5 ♗xd5 19.♗xd5 ♕c7 and just as Black would seem to be passed the worse, White hits him with... 20.♗xf7+! ♔xf7 21.♘g5+ ♔e8 22.♘e6 with a dangerous attack.

12.gxf3 ♗e7 13.♖g1 0-0 14.♗c3 g6?!

Black's king now becomes too vulnerable, noting that White has superior development and there is no black counterplay in sight.

15.♗d4 ♕c7 16.e3 ♖e8

Being hung for a sheep with 16...♕xh2 17.♗d3 ♕h5 is hard to believe: 18.f4 f5 19.♖h1 ♕f3 20.♖dg1 and the attack is crushing.

17.f4 ♗f6 18.♘b6!

Further disruption in the black camp.

18...♖a7

The dark squares would be too weak following 18...♘xb6 19.♗xf6 ♘d7 20.♗d4.

19.♘xd7 ♗xd4 20.♖xd4 ♗xd7 21.♗d3 b6 22.cxb6 ♕xb6 23.f5

White threatens to keep capturing on g6 and Black lacks a safe shelter, but resignation is somewhat premature, but I imagine that Huerga was probably dispirited by this stage of the tournament.

After 23.f5 Black should try 23...♔f8! (23...♖b7 24.fxg6 hxg6 enables White to play 25.♗xg6!) 24.♕c3! (after 24.fxg6 hxg6 25.♖f4 ♔e7 26.♕c3 ♗e6 27.♖b4 ♕c7 28.♕c5+ ♔d7 Black can survive for the time being.) 24...♔e7 25.♖h4!, but White will surely win a pawn and still maintain his attacking chances.

1-0

The final standings were as follows, with Meier winning due to his superior Sonneborn-Berger, a tie-breaking system which has never impressed me!

RankingTitle and NameRatingCountry12345678910PointsSB
1GM MEIER,G2653GER*½½½1½1½½1624,75
2GM GRANDA ZUÑIGA,J2640PER½*1½0½1½11624
3GM LAZNICKA,V2637CZE½0*½11½½11623
4GM GEORGIEV,K2672BUL½½½*½½½111623
5IM REINALDO CASTIÑEIRA,R2488ESP010½*1½½½1 519,75
6GM LOPEZ MARTINEZ,J2589ESP½½0½0*½½11 16,50
6GM MIRZOEV,A2617AZE00½½½½*1½116,50
8IM ALSINA LEAL,D2523ESP½½½0½½0*½½15,50
9IM RECUERO GUERRA,D2494ESP½000½0½½*½10
10IM HUERGA LEACHE,M2435ESP0000000½½*13

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