The Changing of the Guard-Impressions from the 1999 Oceanic Zonal
            Part 1

The Oceanic Zonal was played on the Gold Coast in April and ended in a surprise victory for Vladimir Feldman (AUS), with runners up Russell Dive (NZ), Irina Berezina-Feldman (AUS) and David Smerdon (AUS). A top Queensland player considered the results of this World Championship Knockout qualifier as a "changing of the guard" of Australian chess at the top. That may be pushing it, but certainly the top Aussies now know there are a few faces that need to be respected in future. Vladimir Feldman is an experienced player but his victory was definitely the best result of his career, while David Smerdon is only 14 and has been going from strength to strength over the last year culminating in his equal second zonal result. Furthermore, Vladimir's wife Irina Berezina has had excellent results recently with a WGM norm in the QVB event and achieved-together with the aforementioned 2 players-the mens IM title in the zonal.

These results overshadowed Zong Yuan Zhao's performance, but in my opinion he is continuing to impress (he also performed well in the 1999 Australian Open) and his 2319 performance rating is not bad for a 12 year old… I must admit that looking at the entrants list before the tournament I was convinced that no-one outside the top six had a chance of first at all. As it turned out 3 of the top 4 places were taken by these people!

OK, so how did these new kids on the block do it? Well let's have a look... Vladimir Feldman played good, solid, correct chess all tournament and went through the event undefeated finishing on 7/9. As White he took fewer "risks" than as Black - just compare the setup adopted in the following game to, for eg, his game against Depasquale (coming in Part 2). This is a very common pattern among many good players and is a logical one. As Black you have much less to prepare and can specialise in certain variations, especially as you gain more and more experience with them. Consequently it is almost safer to play sharp variations with the Black pieces than solid ones where you risk landing in a passive position. If you are well aquainted with the theory and ideas of your system then in reality there is no great risk attached. This is particularly the case in Australia where even many of our top players do not have a professional approach to studying the openings-which inevitably happens when we are isolated from the rest of the world chess community and can normally get by with limited knowledge. I remember well Ulf Andersson's opinion that Gary Kasparov hardly takes any risks. This is true-yes, he does play super-sharp variations (again especially as Black) but he has studied them so well together with his trainers and the computer that he just knows he will do very well from the opening.

Finally, one last point before we get stuck into the gritty stuff, download Feldman's games and have a look at his positions just out of the opening. Lets just say that his theoretical preparation assured he was never in any difficulties.


Reilly,T (2258) - Feldman,V (2330) [D97]
Zone 3.2b (Oceanic) Gold Coast AUS (5), 17.04.1999
[John-Paul Wallace]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0 7.e4 a6 8.e5 b5 9.Qb3 Nfd7 10.e6 fxe6 11.Be3 Nf6 12.a4 bxa4 13.Rxa4 Nd5 [13...Nc6 14.Bc4 Rb8 15.Bxe6+ Kh8 16.Qc4 Bxe6 17.Qxe6 Qd6 Karpov-Svidler Dos Hermanas 1999 1-0 49.] 14.Bc4 c6

Both players have ventured into a very topical opening variation which, as can be seen in the notes, has been tested recently at the highest level. Furthermore, both players could easily have prepared for this very position as Feldman is well known for both his Grunfeld and his tendency not to shy away from a theoretical debate, whileTim always plays his beloved Russian Qb3 system against this opening. That said, I seem to remember Tim having a long think around here. In the end he tries to "force" the position but his idea backfires badly. 15.Ne5?! [15.h4 Nd7 16.h5 N7b6 17.hxg6 hxg6 18.Bd3 Nxa4 19.Qxa4 Qd6 20.Bxg6 Rxf3 was played in Piket-Shirov Melody Amber rapid 1999 which Black won.] 15...Qc7! 16.Nxd5 Consistent, but White's concept is flawed. 16...exd5 17.Bxd5+ cxd5 18.Qxd5+ e6 19.Qxa8 Bxe5 20.dxe5 Nc6 21.Rc4 Bb7 22.Qa7 Qa5+ 23.Bd2 Qxd2+ 24.Kxd2 Nxa7

This ending has arisen by force after 16.Nxd5. White's opening idea has failed, but on the other hand I think his position is still quite defensible. 25.Rc7? An inspired defence, returing the pawn in order to exchange a pair of rooks. In principle White is correct-minor pieces cooperate much better with a rook on the board, however I don't think it was the right decision. [25.f3! Rd8+!? (25...Nc6 This is a better try. 26.Rc5) 26.Ke3 And I don't see any serious problems for White at all. 26...Rd5? 27.Rc7!] 25...Rxf2+ 26.Ke3 Rf7 27.Rhc1 Nb5 28.Rxf7 Kxf7 29.g3 g5 30.Rf1+ Kg7 31.Rd1 Bd5 32.Ra1 Bb7 33.Rd1 Kg6 34.Rf1 Bd5 35.Rf6+ Kg7 36.h4 h6 37.hxg5 hxg5 38.Rf1 Kg6 39.Ra1!?

39...Kf5!? 40.Rxa6 Kxe5 41.Rb6 Nd6 42.Rb8 g4 43.Rg8 Bf3 44.Rg5+ Nf5+ 45.Kf2 Kd4 46.Rg8 Nd6 47.Rd8 Ke5 48.Kg1 Ne4 49.Kh2 Nf6 50.b4 Nd5 51.b5 Ne3 52.Kg1 Nf5 53.Kf2 [53.Kh2 Looks stronger.] 53...Nd6 54.b6 Ne4+ 55.Ke1 Nxg3 56.Rd7 Kf4

The ending is very interesting. Apparently Darryl found better drawing chances for White here by not pushing the b-pawn but instead hassling the Black bishop. In any case the Feldmans were convinced that White is lost in the ensuing ending of rook vs knight and 2 pawns. I am not so sure at all. In fact I think 57.b7 is correct and that White may be able to hold the position. 57.b7 Bxb7 58.Rxb7 e5

59.Kf2 [59.Rb2! Fritz's idea, which I like a lot-who said computers can't play endgames? White coordinates much better now and I think he can hold this position. Some sample variations: A) 59...e4 60.Rf2+! This frontal check is the whole point of White's defence. 60...Ke3 (60...Kg5) 61.Rg2 Kf3 62.Rf2+; B) 59...Ne4 60.Rb4 Kf5 61.Ke2 Ng5 62.Ke3 g3 63.Ra4 e4 64.Ra8 Kg4 65.Rh8=] 59...e4 60.Rb4 Nf5 61.Ra4 Nh4 62.Ra3 Nf3 63.Ra4 g3+ 64.Kf1 Nh4 65.Rb4 Kf3 66.Rb8 Ng6 67.Rg8 Nf4 68.Rf8 e3 69.Rf7 e2+ 70.Ke1 0-1

David is a young player with a big future. Like Irina, David only lost one game all tournament against GM Darryl Johansen. He has had coaching from, amongst others, IM Stephen Solomon and this seems to have rubbed off on his style. Like Stephen he loves all sorts of endgames but has a reputation for not being a keen student of main stream opening theory. However, as the game below highlights, I feel that so far at least this has not harmed his chess. In fact the obscure lines that he likes to play sometimes deserve a better reputation than they have and his openings might also have surprise value. Furthermore, I get the impression that David seems to be a clever opportunist in many ways. In this game he plays a very rare line that is not seen in practice primarily because at various stages Black can easily force a draw. However, a draw against an IM is not such a bad result…


Smerdon,D (2173) - Solomon,S (2435) [C43]
Zone 3.2b (Oceanic) Gold Coast AUS (3), 15.04.1999
[John-Paul Wallace]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.Nxe5 Nd7 6.Nxf7

Smerdon repeats this move, which he has played against Solomon before. David seems quite happy to draw the IM's (but this attitude may not last long!) but in this game he does not even have to worry about the draw that results after 6...Kxf7 because he knows that a, it just aint Solo to allow a quick draw and b, Solo would have prepared 6...Qe7 as he thinks it is supposed to be good for Black anyway! However, Smerdon and Zhao had spent a few hours in the morning preparing this line with Fritz and had found some very interesting ideas... Unfortunately the line may not be quite sound-at least Solomon allowed Nxf7 again (!) against Zhao a few rounds later whereupon Zong was the first to deviate with 7.Qe2. Interestingly, NCO considers 6...Qe7?! due to 7.Qe2 anyway, but there is lots of theory here and Solo obviously has his own ideas-certainly he was fine from the opening in the aforementioned game against Zhao. In any case Smerdon certainly caught Solo out this time round-not surprisingly Solo consumed ample time on the clock while David was quite content to just bash out his ideas quickly and confidently. 6...Qe7 [6...Kxf7 7.Qh5+ Ke7 8.Qe2 Kf7=] 7.Nxh8 "?" According to NCO. 7...Nc3+ 8.Kd2 Nxd1 9.Re1 Nxf2 10.Bxh7

10...Ne5 This is meant to be the "refutation". Solo had studied all this before but he wasted precious time over the board trying to remember all the analysis. It was not too late to take a draw here too with 10...Ne4. [10...Ne4+ 11.Rxe4 dxe4 12.Bg6+ Kd8 13.Nf7+ Ke8 14.Nd6+ Kd8 15.Nf7+=] 11.Rxe5 Be6 12.Bg6+ Kd7 13.Bf7 Ne4+

14.Ke1 This is the new idea. Solo said that other king moves were analysed by Yusupov to an advantage for Black. 14...Qh4+! [14...Bxf7? 15.Rxe7+ Kxe7 16.Nxf7 Kxf7 17.Bf4] 15.g3 Bb4+? I think this was a serious mistake. [15...Qxh8 16.Bxe6+ Kd8 Analysing after the game it seemed to me that this move (and if 17.Bxd5 simply Nf6) refutes White's concept. (16...Kd6 I think Solo prefers this move, which does not block in the a8-rook. I like 16...Kd8 on principle but only concrete analysis will unravel the secrets of this position.) 17.Bxd5 (17.Nc3 Someone mentioned that David thought this was a try for White, but it does not seem to work. I do remember early before a round David coming up with something, but I can't remember what it was. 17...Qxh2 18.Rxd5+ Bd6 19.Nxe4 Qh1+) 17...Nf6

] 16.c3 Qxh2 17.Bxe6+ Kc6 18.Bxd5+ Kb6 19.Bxe4 Bd6 20.Ng6! Qxg3+ 21.Ke2 Bxe5 22.Nxe5 White's 4 minor pieces for the queen are way too strong. 22...Rh8 23.Be3 [23.Nd2 was even stronger according to Solomon. It does look much simpler...] 23...Rh2+ 24.Kd3 Qe1 25.d5+ Ka6 26.Kd4!

26...Rxb2 27.Bd3+ b5 28.a4 Solo did not think this was strongest either, but White is still winning. 28...Qh4+ 29.Be4 b4 30.Nd3 Qf6+ 31.Kc4 Rxb1 32.Nc5+ Ka5 33.Bd4 Qf1+ 34.Bd3

Now the battle is completely over. 34...Rxa1 35.cxb4+ Kb6 36.a5+ Rxa5 37.bxa5+ Kxa5 38.Bxf1 1-0

Zong Yuan Zhao recently participated in the World U/12 where he made his mark on the international scene with a phenomenal 4th place after being on the top boards all tournament. This tournament he obtained the FM title and was the only player to have a winning position (for 1 move!) against the eventual tournament winner. His style is "tricky tactical" and he would much rather play a sharp middlegame than grind in an ending. The following win illustrates his excellent feeling for the initiative.



Levi,E (2245) - Zhao Zong Yuan [C22]
Zone 3.2b (Oceanic) Gold Coast AUS (1), 13.04.1999
[John-Paul Wallace]

With these 2 players matching each other you can expect a tactical slugfest. 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4 Nc6 4.Qe3 Nf6 5.e5 If this was intended to surprise Zong it didn't work. 5.Nc3 or 5.Bd2 is considered sounder. [5.Nc3; 5.Bd2] 5...Ng4 6.Qe4 d5! 7.exd6+ Be6 8.Ba6 Qxd6 9.Bxb7 Qb4+ 10.Qxb4 Nxb4

The players are following known theory. NCO considers that Black has a slight advantage here quoting the moves 11.Na3 Rb8 12.Bf3 Bc5. Levi's move hardly rehabilitates the variation for White. 11.Be4 [11.Na3 Rb8 12.Bf3 Bc5] 11...f5 12.Bd3 Rd8 13.Bb5+ Kf7 14.Na3 Nxa2! 15.Nf3 Nxc1 [15...Bb4+ 16.c3 Nxc3 Grabbing a pawn was possible, but Zong gets a strong initiative with simple chess.] 16.Ng5+ This allows a later ...Rd2 so perhaps 16.Rxc1 was a better try. 16...Kf6 17.Nxe6 Kxe6 18.Rxc1 Bc5 19.0-0 Rd2 20.Rce1+ Kf6 21.Re2 Rhd8

True to his style Zong has activated all of his pieces and has a big advantage which he converts with flair. 22.h3 [22.Nb1 Rd1 23.Nc3 (23.Bd3 Rxf1+ 24.Kxf1 Nxh2+) 23...Rxf1+ 24.Kxf1 Nxh2+] 22...Rxe2 23.Bxe2 Rd2! 24.Bxg4 fxg4 25.hxg4 Kg5!

This game is a classic example of activity vs passivity. Just compare each Black piece to its White counterpart! 26.Kh2 Kxg4 27.f3+ Kh4 28.f4 Bf2! An excellent move. Black correctly judges that his initiative is worth a lot more than a pawn up rook ending. 29.b3 Kg4 30.f5 Bg3+ 31.Kg1 Bf4 32.c4 c6-+

White is almost in zugswang, as rook moves allow 33...Kg3 33.b4 Ra2 34.Nb1 Rb2 35.b5 cxb5 36.cxb5 Rxb5 Time to cash in. 37.Nc3 Rxf5

38.Nd5 Vintage Levi, but it is to no avail... 38...Rxd5 0-1

The following game was a great fight ending in a theoretical drawn rook ending. The players each made a (rejected) draw offer relatively early. I mention this mostly because it seems to be an interesting characteristic of Smerdon's games! In our game, to mention just one further example, we both offered and rejected draws before finally agreeing on a draw when David was left with only a knight against my lone king!


Smerdon,D (2173) - Feldman,V (2330) [B22]
Zone 3.2b (Oceanic) Gold Coast AUS (4), 16.04.1999
[John-Paul Wallace]

1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nf3 e6 6.cxd4 d6 7.a3 David has had success with this simple move against Vadim Milov in the recent Australian Open, although in the end he lost that game. White's moves are typical of these c3 Sicilian lines-simple and even blunt, but they can lead to a very effective kingside attack. 7...Nc6 8.Bd3 dxe5 9.dxe5 Be7 10.0-0 g5

This is the sort of move I was known to bash out in my "younger days". Black throws caution to the winds and aims to dislodge the knight on f3 and thus weaken the e5-pawn, however his king safety will clearly suffer now. These days I would have serious second-thoughts about such a strategy though. It would be interesting to know whether Vlad, who is normally well prepared, had decided upon this course before the game or over the board. My guess is probably the former. 11.Re1 h6 Watching this game I was surprised by this, but black thinks the "threat is stronger than the execution" and waits to see White's next move before committing himself to ...g4. [11...g4 12.Nfd2] 12.b4 If White has nothing better than the following ending then this is not the way to try and refute Black's opening idea. 12...g4 13.b5

[13.Nfd2 Ndxb4] 13...gxf3 14.bxc6 fxg2 15.Bb5 Kf8 16.Qh5 Bg5 17.Bxg5 Qxg5 18.Qxg5 hxg5

At first glance the ending looks terrible for White, but Smerdon, like his former coach Solomon, feels comfortable in almost any ending. White's kingside has been shattered but Black experiences problems getting his queenside pieces into play. 19.Nd2 Rb8 20.Ne4 Ke7 21.Rab1 g4 22.Be2 b6 23.Rbc1 Nf4 24.c7 Ra8 25.Bb5 Bb7 26.Bc6 Bxc6 27.Rxc6 Nd3 28.Rd1 Nxe5 29.Rc3 f5 30.Nd6

30...Nf3+ 31.Kxg2 Rxh2+ 32.Kf1 Rh1+ 33.Ke2 Rxd1 34.c8N+ [34.Kxd1 Kxd6 35.c8Q Rxc8 36.Rxc8 Leaves White struggling to draw.] 34...Kd7 35.Kxd1

35...Rb8 [35...Ng5! This super strong tactical move was found by Fritz. Black threatens Ne4. As can be seen in the following variations the tactics work very well for Black, however it is not clear that his advantage is enough to win. The following positions are very difficult to assess accurately. A) 36.Rd3 A1) 36...Rxc8 37.Nf7+ (37.Ne4+) ; A2) 36...Nh3! 37.Ke1 Rxc8 38.Nxc8+ (38.Nxf5+) 38...Kxc8 Is similar to the note to 34.Kxd1 and the same assessment applies.; B) 36.Rc4 Ne4 37.Nxe4 (37.Nxb6+? axb6 38.Nxe4 fxe4 39.a4 e3!-+ 40.fxe3 Rg8 and with the rook behind the pawn Black should win the ending.; 37.Rd4? e5!) 37...fxe4 38.Nxa7 Rxa7 39.a4

With chances for a draw for White. Note that the ...e3 idea in the line after 37.Nxb6 does not work here.; C) 36.Ke2 36...Ne4 C1) 37.Rd3 Kc7 (37...Nc5) ; C2) 37.Nxe4 37...fxe4 38.Nxa7 Rxa7 39.Ke3

39...Ra4!? Tempting, but this may only worsen Black's winning chances. 40.Kf4 Kd6 41.Kxg4 (41.Rb3!? This move, keeping Black occupied with his b-pawn as well may be even stronger.) 41...e3+ 42.Kf3 exf2 43.Kxf2

and Black does not have enough to win.] 36.a4 a6 37.Kc2 b5 38.axb5 axb5 39.Kb3 b4 40.Rc1 Nd4+ 41.Kb2 Ne2 42.Rc4 Nc3 43.Rd4!?

This seems extraordinarily risky, especially as 43.Kb3 was a reasonable alternative. However, Smerdon finds his way seemingly easily now to a well known drawn rook-ending. Such a confident decision again reminds me of Solomon, who, confident in his ability to calculate accurately, would take such a course of action when most mere mortals would play a simple move and hold the draw! [43.Kb3 It is not clear how Black can improve his position here. 43...Ne4 Perhaps Smerdon feared this move, but it achieves nothing. 44.Nxe4 fxe4 45.Na7! (45.Rxe4 Rxc8 46.Rxg4 Even this draws.) 45...Rf8 46.Rxe4=] 43...Rxc8 [43...e5] 44.Nxf5+ Nd5 [44...Kc7] 45.Ne3 Kd6 46.Rxg4 Rf8 47.Nxd5 Rxf2+ 48.Kc1 exd5 49.Rxb4 Kc5 50.Rh4= 50...d4 51.Kd1 Kc4 52.Rh3

The Philidor's defence, which if you have not seen before you should practise right away (along with the Lucena position which is how to win with the extra pawn when the enemy king is cut off along a file). White draws easily by moving his rook along the third rank and only going to the back rank when Black advances his pawn. The fact that the White king is cut off on the first rank does not help Black. 52...Rg2 53.Rf3 d3 54.Rf8! Smerdon plans to meet 54...Kc3 with 55.Rc8+ and so with nowhere for the Black king to hide from the checks Feldman agrees to the draw. 1/2-1/2

Irina is an extremely solid player, even more so than her husband. She is content to play for a small, safe advantage and is wary not too push too hard for victory. She is not a theory hound, but rather relies on a sound general knowledge of the opening.


Berezina,I (2230) - Reilly,T (2258) [A81]
Zone 3.2b (Oceanic) Gold Coast AUS (9), 21.04.1999
[John-Paul Wallace]

1.Nf3 g6 2.d4 f5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.0-0 0-0 6.c3 This system is rolled out for a third time during the tournament. 6...Kh8 7.Nbd2 d6 8.Qb3 c6 9.a4 Qe8 10.Re1 Nbd7?!

Tim commented to me after the game that he only played 1 mistake in the opening after which Irina didn't give him another chance. Well as you will see in the notes below, while Irina played creative chess this was hardly the case. I guess Tim's last move was what he considered a mistake and as far as that is concerned he is right. 11.Ng5! Nb6 [11...e5!? 12.Ne6 (12.Qe6; 12.e4) 12...Nc5! A) 13.dxc5 Qxe6 14.Qxe6 (14.cxd6) 14...Bxe6 15.cxd6; B) 13.Nxc5! 13...dxc5 14.dxe5 Qxe5 and Black is probably only slightly worse.] 12.e4 h6?! This is too weakening. 13.Ne6 Bxe6 14.Qxe6 White has a large positional advantage. Note that the e4 break is stronger than in other lines of the Dutch where White has a pawn on c4 and thus a less stable centre. These advantages are topped with the extra bonus that White has won Black's light-squared bishop. 14...f4!?

Hoping to mess up the position. 15.e5?! Irina is provoked. This opening up of the position leads to a fine victory, but objectively it loses control of the position giving Black's cramped pieces activity. [15.Nf3!? fxg3™ 16.hxg3 Was a simple solution to the position. White has no direct threats but holds all the positional trumps.; 15.a5!?; 15.gxf4?! Nh5] 15...dxe5 16.dxe5 Nfd7 17.Nf3 g5!? [17...Nc5] 18.gxf4 [18.b4!?] 18...Qh5

This looks and undoubtedly is unsound, but it could have been the prelude to a brilliant trick. [18...Nc5! with either Nd3 or Nb3 at the right moment looks OK for Black.; 18...gxf4? 19.Nh4!+-] 19.fxg5? This looks very tempting and both players are still perhaps unaware what could have happened on move 21 if Tim was perhaps in a more positive frame of mind. There are lots of alternatives that probably win here, although it is still tricky. [19.a5!?; 19.f5!?] 19...Rxf3 20.Bxf3 Qxf3 21.gxh6

21...Bf8? [21...Rg8!! Would have drawn immediately, as Fritz discovered for me. Tim presumably thought it was already all over, but one must be an opportunist in chess! Admittedly Tim needed a win for the IM title so even if he had seen this idea one might speculate whether or not he would have played it... 22.hxg7+ (22.h7 Just gives White losing chances.) 22...Rxg7+ 23.Kf1 Qd3+ 24.Re2 Qd1+

With perpetual check.] 22.Qg6 It is not clear that this is best. 22...Nd5? [22...Nc4 It seems to me that Black is still fighting here.] 23.c4! e6 [23...Nf4 This also loses but might force White to do some more serious calculating in order to force the win. 24.Bxf4 Qxf4 25.Re4! Qxh6 (25...Nxe5? 26.Qg7+!+-) 26.Qg3! Qe6 (26...Qh7 27.Rh4 Bh6 28.Qh3 Rg8+ 29.Kh1 Rg6 30.Qxd7+-) 27.Kh1 Bh6 28.Rg4 Qxe5 (28...Nxe5 29.Re4 Bg7 30.Rg1 Qf6 31.Rf4 Qg6 32.Qh3++-) 29.Qh3 Qe6 30.Rag1 Rf8 31.Rg8++-] 24.Ra3!+- Qf5 25.Qxf5 exf5 26.e6 1-0

Finally we arrive at the last round game that decided the tournament. In many ways the battle was an anti-climax with Aleks taking up too much time in the opening too early and in the end losing without a real fight. Certainly the result was a huge blow to Darryl who was trailing Vladimir by half a point and not long after Wohl resigned Darryl allowed a mate in one from an excellent position against Dive.


Wohl,A (2440) - Feldman,V (2330) [B90]
Zone 3.2b (Oceanic) Gold Coast AUS (9), 21.04.1999
[John-Paul Wallace]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 Another Feldman speciality. Like the Grunfeld it is very theoretical and popular at the elite level. 6.f3 As I explained in the first Wally's Wisdom article, this is quite a good move as 6.Be3 Ng4 is a difficult line to meet. On the other hand I think a serious disadvantage with 6.f3 is 6...e6 as White is not doing very impressively in the English Attack these days. (if 6.Be3 e6 on the otherhand White has many good tries, 7.g4 being the most outwardly aggressive). 6...e5 7.Nb3 Be6

8.Bg5 Typically Aleks sees the chance to do something different and he takes it. A more normal move order in the opening is 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 and so Aleks' 6.f3 has given him an extra option but I think 8.Be3 which does not get in the way of White's g-pawn looks better anyway. I am not sure how much Aleks prepared for this variation, but he certainly got himself into horrendous time trouble quickly. 8...Nbd7 9.Qd2 Qc7 10.g4 b5 11.a4 This move is standard in some of these lines, but I am not sure if it is appropriate here. 11...b4 12.Nd5 Bxd5 13.exd5 Be7 14.0-0-0 0-0 15.Bxf6 Nxf6

16.Kb1 [16.Qxb4 Not a very "human" move but it is not clear that White can't get away with this pawn grab.] 16...Rfc8 17.g5 Nd7 18.Bh3 a5 19.f4!? Re8 20.Rhf1 Bf8 21.fxe5 Nxe5 22.Qf4 g6 23.Nd4 Bg7 24.Nc6 Rf8 25.Bg2

Aleks is at least not worse here, but his biggest enemy this game was the clock... 25...Qd7 26.h4 [26.h3! Looks stronger, keeping the queen out of g4.] 26...Qg4! 27.Bh1 Rfe8 28.Qxg4 Nxg4 29.Rf4 f5 30.gxf6 Nxf6 Black's position has vastly improved, but he should not be a rook up in just a few moves! 31.Bf3 Nd7 32.Bg4 Nc5

33.b3?! Ne4 34.Rh1? Nc3+-+ 35.Kc1 Bh6 36.Rhf1 Nxd5 0-1

Please Note: All my analysis given on these pages or for download may be reproduced, but please credit the notes to John-Paul Wallace.