First half of Prague Chess Masters

by Vidit Gujarathi - 11/03/2019

  Currently I am playing in the Prague Chess Masters in Czech Republic. The first 5 rounds are over. In this article I take you through the first half of the event.

The Prague chess Festival is being held for the 1st time and I am playing in the Master's Category. The field is comprised of 10 strong Grandmasters and I started out as the 8th seed of the event. The opening ceremony of the tournament was short and very classy. It was very pleasant to have the Ambassador of India in the Czech Republic visiting the opening ceremony.

 

The Indian players and Organizers with Ambassador of India in the Czech Republic, Mrs. Narinder Chauhan.

Next was drawing of lots. The players who picked numbers 1-5 get one extra White and players who pick 6-10 get one extra Black. Now you will know the reason why I make this expression in the following photos!

The disappointment of an extra Black Game!

 

After the Opening ceremony, we had planned a small birthday surprise for the tournament organizer and our very good friend, Mr. Petr Boleslav.

Let's get to business! Nothing exciting happened in the first round. I had a solid draw against the second of Vishy Anand, GM Radek Wojtaszek of Poland.

Fighting with the black pieces against Radek Wojtaszek | Photo: Vladimir Jagr

In Round 2 I faced the former World Championship Challenger, Boris Gelfand. In Poikovsky Tournament last year I had a completely winning game against him, but he kept finding defensive resources. Eventually, he found a pretty nice stalemate.

 

Vidit vs Gelfand

Black's last move was Qf1-g2! forcing a Stalemate.

So, this time around I was very determined to fight and win the game. I played 1.e4 and caught him in my opening preparation. He couldn't remember his lines and he went wrong quickly with the move 13..c4?

Black went wrong with 13..c4? How would you punish it?

14.Nd4! secures the advantage

There were massive exchanges and I was a pawn up in the ending after 14.Nd4 Bd7 15.Nf5 Bf5 16.Bf5 Ne4 17.Be4 Bg5 18.Qd6 Qd6 19.Rd6. After few moves we reached another critical moment

Here I found an interesting way to protect f2 with the King manouevre to e1.

I was better and kept increasing pressure and eventually Black's defenses collapsed. You can replay the entire game below.

I drew against GM Richard Rapport in Round 3. It was an uneventful game. Probably he was not in the mood for a big fight as he had lost in the first 2 rounds. In Round 4 I played against GM Shankland Samuel who is the current US champion. I misplayed the opening terribly and was worse since move 12 or so. I kept finding resources and almost equalized, but eventually made one small mistake. To be honest credit must be given to Shankland who was quite resourceful in posing problems. Have a look at this tactical skirmish.

My last move was 21.Qa3-a7!

The game continued 21.Qa7 Rd8 22.Bd4 Rd4 23.Qb8! Qd8 24. Qb7 Rd2 26.Qa7 (to stop Qd4) Qf6. This was the critical moment of the game. Here had I played Qe3, the game would have ended in a draw. But I played Qc7 thinking its a draw nonetheless. And now Sam found a brilliant resource. Can you find it?

Can you find Black's brilliant move?

Here black played 26..h5!! The point is if 26..Qb2 27.h5! Re2 28.Qd8 Kg7 29.h6 is mate. h5 gets rid of all the mating ideas and although black is 3 pawns down, his attack is unbearable. You can replay the entire game below.

In round 5 I made a solid draw with GM Viktor Laznicka and in the next round I play the solid Russian Grandmaster Nikita Vitiugov. Still 4 rounds are remaining and I am looking forward to playing some exciting games in the second half of the event and hopefully find my rhythm again.