May 162018

Our Canadian Game of the Week is Adam Dorrance vs Eric Hansen, from the 2018 Bluenose Open in Halifax, annotated by Adam Dorrance.


(photo: after chess fun with GM Eric Hansen, David Zhou & Adam Dorrance)

Bluenose Open
February 23-25, 2018
Saint Mary’s University, Halifax

Was a 5 round swiss with the relatively more civilized time control of G/120 + 30.

  • 46 players competed.
  • Adam Dorrance won with 4.5/5. 
  • GM Eric Hansen, David Zhou, Jose Gonzalez-Cueto were =2nd-4th with 4/5.
  • As Adam mentions in his notes, Eric took a bye in round 3 to play for his Chessbrah team in the PRO League.
  • Special mention for Cynthia Cui, who was tied for the lead going into the last round, but lost to a visiting GM.

() – ()
 Round:  Result:
[Event "Bluenose Open 2018"]
[Site "Halifax"]
[Date "2018.02.25"]
[Round "4.1"]
[White "Dorrance, Adam"]
[Black "Hansen, Eric"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D90"]
[WhiteElo "2297"]
[BlackElo "2627"]
[Annotator "Adam Dorrance"]
[PlyCount "198"]
[EventDate "2018.05.11"]
[EventCountry "CAN"]

{When I heard a GM (Eric Hansen) was coming to play in tournament in Nova
Scotia for the first time ever, I knew I had to go up to the city for the
weekend, even though I had been playing next to no chess the past couple of
years (because of University, work, sports, etc.). This is because for players
living in the Maritimes, it is a very rare occurrence to have a good chance
play any titiled player in a tournament, let alone a GM! Even though people
found out about his participation on late notice (only several days before the
first round), not surprisingly, this tournament turned out to be one of, if
not the, biggest tournaments on Nova Scotian soil with an attendance of 46
players. Fortunately I did get paired up with him, which meant my trip up
wasn't a waste (since in a five round tournament with many players there was a
chance I might not have been paired with him at all). My game with Eric
occurred in the fourth of five rounds during then 2018 Bluenose Open in
Halifax. After the first three rounds, I was the sole leader with 3/3 since
Eric (2.5/3) had to take a half point bye in the third round to play a PRO
Chess League match. That meant that Eric wanted to beat me to try and win the
tournament outright, along with the large (for Maritime tournaments) cash
prize.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. Nc3 d5 5. h4 {[#] The minimal
preparation I did for the tournament revolved almost exclusively along this
one line in the Grunfeld. I had noticed that Eric had previously encountered
the 5.h4 line a couple of times in the past, and it seemed like it was a
tricky line that gave him a bit of trouble. Plus, my thought process was the
more I play solid, non main line theory, the better of a chance I would have
against an opponent obviously out of my league.} dxc4 6. e4 c5 ({His only two
games I could find in the h4 Grunfeld continued} 6... O-O 7. Bxc4 (7. e5 Nh5 8.
Bxc4 c5 $11 {Al-Sayed-Hansen, FIDE World Rapid 2014, 0-1}) 7... Bg4 8. e5 Nfd7
9. h5 $14 {Fridman-Hansen, 5th Blitz Marathon 2014, 1-0}) 7. d5 {[#]} e6 $6 {
Eric spent quite a bit of time on this move (I can't remember the exact amount,
but I think it was at least two-thirds (around an hour) of his remaining time).
I assume that he wanted to escape the tricky theory that accompanies this line,
especially if he did not remeber it too well. I think this moves gives me a
Benoni-type of structure and a bit of an advantage out of the opening, but it
makes sense he wants to get me out of my preparation and try to prove he is a
stronger player (even with a small disadvantage).} ({There are many tricky
variations in this opening, but just to give readers a taste here is one
sample of a main line} 7... b5 8. h5 O-O 9. hxg6 fxg6 10. e5 Ng4 11. d6 e6 12.
Nxb5 Qa5+ 13. Nc3 Nd7 14. Rxh7 $5 {where the position is very tactical and
unclear (if either side makes a little mistake, their position can crumble
very quickly).}) 8. Bxc4 exd5 9. exd5 O-O 10. O-O Bg4 11. Bf4 Nbd7 12. Qd3 Nb6
13. Nd2 Bf5 14. Qf3 Ng4 15. Qg3 Re8 16. Rad1 Nxc4 17. Nxc4 Nf6 {[#] I had
calculated the last several moves that were played (or similar variations) and
arrived at a position (or similar position) to this one. I was very happy with
my position because I consider getting a middle game position like this one
where I thought my pieces were very well placed against a 2600 GM, a success.
As well, I had a very sizeable time advantage on my opponent. With my next
move, I threw away my advantage and almost (probably should have) cost myself
the game.} 18. Nd6 $2 {I tried being too cheeky and missed a relatively simple
variation that would have forced me to make inferior exchanges (worse than
what happened in the game).} Nh5 19. Qf3 Qxh4 ({The move I had missed, which
he may have as well was after} 19... Nxf4 {I had intended to play} 20. Nxf5 $2
{but missed the relatively obvious move} Bxc3 {and after} 21. Qxf4 Be5 22. Nh6+
Kg7 23. Qg5 {I am basically lost. To salvage any chances I would have had to
play 20. Nxe8 instead, but after 20... Be5, my position again is not looking
very good, to be optimistic.}) 20. Nxe8 Rxe8 21. Bg3 Nxg3 22. Qxg3 Qxg3 23.
fxg3 {[#] This was a position I had calculated in my head, but mistakenly
underevaluated the strength of his bishop pair and pawn structure. I knew,
even up the exchange (R vs B and P), I would have to fight most likely for a
draw in an awkward and slightly inferior position for the rest of the game,
which I assumed would be very long and depressing, as he needed to grind me
down and win the game because of the aforementioned tournament standings.} Bd4+
24. Kh2 Rd8 25. Rf4 Be5 26. Rc4 b6 27. Rd2 h5 28. Ne2 Bd6 29. a4 Kg7 30. Kg1 a6
31. Kf2 b5 32. Rc1 {I probably played too passively the previous several moves,
but it is hard to see a plan to break through against his very well placed, and
very well coordinated pieces.} c4 33. axb5 axb5 {It appears that I am a couple
moves from being steamrolled by his bishops and pawns, but I had seen one move
that we both agreed afterwards was "in time" and gave me a fighting chance.}
34. b3 Bb4 (34... Bc5+ 35. Ke1 Be3 36. bxc4 bxc4 37. Rxc4 Bxd2+ 38. Kxd2 Rxd5+
{leads to a similar position that was arrived at in the game.}) 35. Rd4 Bc5 36.
bxc4 bxc4 37. Rcxc4 Rxd5 38. Rxc5 Rxc5 {Considering the previous positions, I
was rather happy to have a fighting chance for a draw, even though I
knew it would be very tough to hold, especially with our remaining times being
very similar (around 15 mins each).} 39. Rd2 Be4 40. Kg1 Kf6 41. Kh2 {[#] My
main plan was to create a bit of a fortress with my king on h2 and pawns on g2
and g3. My knight could defend on f4 and g1 if need be and my rook would stay
on the second rank to guard my weakness on g2. Again, I knew I still did not
have great position, but I figured there was a chance that this fortress type
set-up might be holdable. As well, I knew if I either traded off the rooks or
the knight for bishop, the game would end in a draw so that was my only other
real goal.} Bf5 42. Rb2 Kg5 43. Ng1 Rc3 44. Nf3+ Kf6 45. Rb6+ Kg7 46. Rb2 Be4
47. Ng5 Bd5 48. Rd2 Bc6 49. Rf2 Bd5 50. Rd2 Rc5 51. Nh3 Be6 52. Nf4 Bg4 53. Rb2
g5 54. Nd3 Rd5 55. Nf2 Bf5 56. Ra2 Rc5 57. Rd2 Rc3 58. Rb2 Kg6 59. Re2 g4 60.
Rb2 f6 61. Ra2 Be6 62. Re2 Bf5 63. Ra2 Re3 64. Nd1 Re1 65. Nf2 Rc1 66. Rb2 Bc2
67. Ra2 Kg5 $2 {Here, Eric made the mistake of losing all of his advantage.} ({
He can keep maneuvering after} 67... Bf5) 68. Ra5+ $1 Kg6 69. Rc5 Kh6 {[#]} 70.
Nd3 {This may have been a slightly longer way of drawing and may have let Eric
"off of the hook" as I could have kept the pressure on the c-file by playing
70. Rc7 and he would have had to be careful where he placed his King. I was in
a bit of time trouble though as making that many careful moves in long endgame
is not always obvious and needs some thinking time to make sure I don't
blunder. Therefore, I was relieved to see 70. Nd3 after a very long endgame
and was happy to take a draw any way I could.} Rd1 71. Rxc2 Rxd3 {This endgame
is a fairly easy draw as it is hard for him to make any progress with my rook
harassing his King and pawns.} 72. Rc5 Kg6 73. Ra5 Rd7 74. Rb5 Rg7 75. Ra5 Re7
76. Rb5 Re5 77. Rb8 Kf5 78. Rf8 Ra5 79. Re8 Re5 80. Rf8 Kg6 81. Rg8+ Kf7 82.
Rh8 Kg7 83. Rb8 Kf7 84. Rb6 Rd5 85. Ra6 Rd2 86. Rb6 Kg6 87. Rb5 Rd6 88. Ra5 Rd7
89. Rb5 Rh7 90. Rb8 Kg5 91. Rb5+ f5 92. Rb8 h4 93. Rg8+ Kf6 94. gxh4 Rxh4+ 95.
Kg3 Rh1 96. Rf8+ Ke6 97. Re8+ Kf7 98. Ra8 Re1 99. Kf4 Rf1+ {I think he was
satisfied enough that I proved I could draw the game after a 6+ hour grudge
match. I know neither side played perfectly, but it was my first ever result
in a classical over-the-board game with a GM (after two losses when I was
younger), and one that I will definitely remember.  Eric and I went on to win
our last round games, so I won the tournament outright with 4.5/5 and he tied
for second with 4/5 (one bye) with his friend David Zhou and Jose
Gonzalez-Cueto.  As a closing, I was fortunate to hang out with Eric (and
David) throughout the weekend and was very impressed with how nice and
respectful they were to everyone at the tournament and how they shared their
knowledge of chess with everyone. As I stated above, it is once in a blue moon
that a titled player (let alone a GM) comes to little Nova Scotia (and the
rest of the Maritimes) to play chess, so I wanted to thank them on behalf of
all the participants for coming out and creating a turnout and buzz in Nova
Scotia chess that has not been seen in quite some time.} 1/2-1/2


GOTW: Dorrance – Hansen, Halifax 2018.
Source: Canadian Chess