Hattrick completed!

Время публикации: 12.03.2012 16:46 | Последнее обновление: 13.03.2012 13:58

Polish championship has a long history – this time we played it for 69th time in man's section (1st edition took place in 1926, but there were some „empty” years later on) and 64th in women section.

For a long time the format of the championship was very traditional – 14 men and 12 women played a round robin tournaments. However, the problem of closed final is qualification – before transformation (in 80's and earlier) it was working quite well, as semifinals were quite attractive, but in 90's and later this format started not to work very well. When we had a very good sponsorship (what happened in 2001-2004 when mobile phone company „Plus GSM” gave a lot of money, 1st was 10 000$ 4 years in a row!) the finals were very strong, but starting from 2005 it was worse and worse. The culmination took place in 2009 when we were supposed to play finals in the middle of nowhere for a very poor prizes. It was first time in history, when organizers wasn't able to collect 14 players and finally we played in a group of 12 players...!

Luckily enough, there was (due to some inaccurancies in former elections) surprising election and new president, Mr. Tomasz Sielicki, was chosen as a new chief of Polish Chess Federation. Starting from late 2009 situation of polish players became significantly better and also polish championship has a good level.

First change was change about format – in open section (now all man events must be called that way) we switched from closed tournament to open, where the main limit was ranking – all players above 2500 could play. So, for 3 years now we play championship in that way.

In women section it's a bit diffrent – at the beginning they played in cup system, in a group of 16 players, now they play closed event, in a group of 10.

Other important things are: the venue: we play in very comfortable hotel Novotel Centrum, in w centre of Warsaw and of course prizes – it's maybe not impressive, but at least decent: 1st prize in men section is 20 000 zloty's (more or less 200 000 rubles) and 13 000 in women section (130 000 rubles).

So, all those factors allowed to have – more or less – the strongest possible field. Of course, in those last 3 years there were diffrent situations and some players decided not to play, but generally speaking all top players played in lat 3 championship.

This year was special for me, as I could win championship for the third time in a row (and 4th overall, as I won the event in 2006, 20010 and 2011). It's not easy to win championship even once, twice in a row seems really hard and hattrick... Well, it happened last time in 50's when Bogdan ?liwa won all championships between 1951 and 1954.

After mu success in Aeroflot Open I didn't really expected that I can do a lot in polish championship. I was very tired as Moscow Open + Aeroflot took a lot of energy. Luckily enough I won first 2 games and somehow I forgot about tiredness.

After draw in round 3 vs. Bartek Macieja, former European Champion, I won a nice game vs. Radek Wojtaszek, our strongest player. I was very pleased, as I haven't won a game vs. Radek for last 9 years! In fact I was maybe too happy, as the next day I lost without any fight versus Kamil Mito? and the fact that I was white in that game also didn't help to feel well. After the game vs. Kamil I felt tired again and thought that tournament is over for me.

But somehow I managed to strike back with very nice win in a game with Bartosz So?ko. I was black, did nice – but probably not very strong – positional sacrifice and later I won.

Socko,Bartosz (2636) - Bartel,Mateusz (2658) [C55]
Ch Poland Warsaw (Poland) (6), 23.02.2012
Mateusz Bartel

Bartosz Socko is a good friend of me, but at the same time, one of the most inconvenient opponents. I lost many games (we are talking only about classical time control) to him, winning only one - at the previous polish championship. This time, I was supposed to play black and as statistics says, before that game I lost all my games vs. Bartosz with black! The fact that after good start at the tournament (3,5/4) I lost easily game in round 5 (vs Kamil Miton) and the next day I was supposed to play Bartosz, wasn't really improving my situation...

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 I also expected 3.Bb5 and then both Bxc6 and Ba4.

3...Nf6 4.d3 One can say that it was a pleasant surprise, as after 4.Ng5 Bartosz have...100% score (or almost) vs such players as Naiditsch, Bacrot etc...! Of course, I was prepared, but would it be enough for such a monster?!

4...Be7 5.Nbd2

I don't think that this move is correct - I'd prefer more natural 0–0 or c3 connected with Bb3.

5...0–0 6.0–0 d6 7.Bb3 Much more logical was 7.c3 or; 7.a4 - both with idea of protecting bishop from c4. Move in the game also protects bishop, but the way is a bit improper.

7...Na5 8.Ba4 c5 9.c3 Rb8!

Maybe this is not very difficult to play this move, but you can also miss it. The point is that black wants to play b5 and get very Ruy Lopez-like structure, but instead of useless a6 they will have useful Rb8 - which is helping to play move b4 then.

10.d4 b5 11.Bc2 Qc7 12.d5 Typical, normal move. Position is very similar to classical Chigorin variation, but there are several significant differences - first of all white plated d2-d3-d4, so they lost tempo, secondly black played Rb8-b5 not a6-b5. So black, is at least, 2 tempos up in comparison to the classical position. Also position of knight on d2 it's not perfect - of course, it usually goes there, but rather in clarified situation, and here - it seems - nothing is clear yet.

12...c4!? An interesting attempt. Usually, with rook on a8 and pawn on a6, this is weak move, as after a2-a4, black has problems with 'a' file. At this moment (with knight on d2!) a4 is totally not working due to b4 (thanks to rook on b8) . So, why not to play c4, which is preparing square c5 for the knight from a5?

13.h3 Nb7 14.Re1 Nothing was offered by 14.a4 a6 and b3 square seems to be very weak now.

14...Bd7 Preparation of Nc5 and also - very popular in so-called soviet chess school - "connecting" the rooks. What that connection gives - no-one really knows, apart of the fact that they are connected. I didn't like immediate 14...Nc5 , because of 15.b4 (without knight on c5 this never works due to hanging pawn on c3) 15...cxb3 16.axb3 a5 17.b4 and knight can't really jump to a4. So, that's why I played Bd7 - to prepare square a4 for the knight in that line.

15.Nf1 Nc5

16.g4? This move is always a bit risky, as there are many ways for black to get nice position. Apart from the move played in the game and move suggested in comments you can also try something like h7-h5. I recommend to check game Hou Yifan - Kosteniuk, Nalchik 2008, where in similar position (white pawn on a3, black on a6, black rook on a8) black played h5 and won convincingly. Probably it was time to play 16.b4 and after 16...cxb3 17.axb3 a5 18.Bd2 Rfc8 it's clear that black is very fine, thought white is ok as well.

16...Nfxe4!? Objectively, this move is not great, but I couldn't stop my hands, when I realized that this may work. What's the point? The fact that it will be difficult for white to coordinate pieces. So, we can say that this is positional sacrifice for long-term initiative. In practical play - this is dangerous, but as it is with "fire on the board", dangerous for both sides... Objectively, it was better to play much more "normal" 16...b4 and begin an action on queenside. It's not easy to say if black is already better, but it seems so.

17.Bxe4? Not a big mistake, but the alternative was looking more natural. After 17.Rxe4! Nxe4 18.Bxe4 f5 19.gxf5 Bxf5 20.Ng3 Bc8! (worse is 20...Bxe4 21.Nxe4 Qd7 22.Nfg5 Bxg5 23.Nxg5 Rf6 24.Qg4 and white is better; 20...Bxh3? 21.Nxe5) 21.a3! Qd7 22.Qf1 white should be better, although position is very unclear. However, there is no doubts that it was the path white should have chosen.

17...Nxe4 18.Rxe4 f5 19.gxf5 Bxf5 20.Ng3 Worth of considering was 20.Rg4 Bxg4 21.hxg4 b4 with a sharp, unclear position.