Highlights From A Chess Tournament
    By Tommaso Dorigo | December 24th 2013 09:44 AM | 7 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Tommaso

    I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson...

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    The XVIth international chess tournament "Citta' di Padova" ended last Sunday with the victory of GM Kiril Georgiev, who got 7 points out of 9 games. The tournament saw the participation of 63 players from 13 countries, with a total of 11 grandmasters and 13 international masters, plus nine other Fide titled players.

    I participated in the event and scored a good 4.5/9, winning four games and losing four. Below I am showing some salient points from a few of my games.

    On round 1 I played with the white pieces against International Master Mrdja. I got a good position out of the opening, but as the time control was nearing I started to play suboptimal moves. In the position below, white should just play 23.Rae1 Rxe2 24.Qxe2 with a comfortable advantage, but I played the dubious 23.c4?! and soon blundered a pawn. No problem for Mrdja to get the full point...

    After losing an uneventful game with a strong master in round 2, on round 3 I played against Buchicchio, a 2080 player. I got a good position out of the opening, and after we reached the following position:

    black played 12....Nh5? which allowed 13.Nb5! Qxd2 14.Bxd2 Nf4 15.Bc4! a6 16.Nxd6 b5 17.Bb3 f5?

    In the above position white has several ways to get a winning position. I analyzed many variations but incorrectly chose the most "tactical" way, which was less effective - but was enough to win. I played 18.Bb4 Rd8 19.Nxc8 Nxc8 20.d6+ Kf8 21.Ng5 Nxd6 22.Nf7 with a winning advantage; on the other hand 18.Bxf4! exf4 19.e5 would have been much simpler.

    On the fourth round I played against Claus Seyfried, a elo-2180 player, with the black pieces. In the position below white appears to be able to gain space on the queenside, but I had correctly evaluated that I could then effectively sacrifice the exchange for two pawns and a safe position.

    He played 16.b4?! Qxa3! when he sank in deep though. Of course if now 17.Ra1 Qb4 18.Reb1 Rxe2! black stands no worse. White thus played 17.Rb1, but unfortunately I badly misplayed the resulting middlegame and ended up losing.

    After a simple win on the fifth round against a weaker player, I played Fide master Xia Jie on round 6. Here I also got a reasonable position with the black pieces:

    Here I should have played calmly 22....Bg7, but I decided to play for a kingside attack: 22....Nxe5 23.fxe5 Nh7 24.Kh2 Qd8 25.e4 Qd7, intending Ng5 and Bh3. Unfortunately my plan never concretized, and I soon lost a pawn.

    On round 7 I won against a 1800 player who tried to attack my position when his position did not allow him to do so: in the position below I am black, and it is white's turn. Do you see the problem with white's choice 11.Nc7?

    Of course black played 11....g5! (11....Be4! would also do). After 12.Be5? Nxe5 13.fxe5 Qxc7 14.exf6 Bxf6 black's position is simply won, and indeed in six more moves I trapped his queen and he resigned.

    Finally, after a uneventful draw on round 8 with a 2100 player, I won convincingly the last round despite a momentary lapse of reason. In the following position I have black and it's my turn to move. Do you see the simple way to get an advantage ?

    After 29....Rxe5! 30.Bf4 (there is nothing better) Rxg5+ 31.hxg5 Qxf4 32.gxf6 Ra3! it is basically game over. My opponent chose 30.exf6 but after 31.Re6 fxg7 the position is a win for black.

    All in all, I am not too dissatisfied with my play, although I did waste at least a half point (with Seyfried on Round 4). My performance rating was 2097, which is in the ballpark of my playing strength.


    Luis Gonzalez-Mestres
    Hi Tommaso,

    All this looks very nice. I also used to play chess long ago.

    I am actually a FIDE master with 2350 (Catalan Federation in Spain) :

    But I have not played a single game for more than 30 years.


    Too bad you do not play any longer!! You should restart!Chess is a lifelong love, don't set it aside!
    Luis Gonzalez-Mestres
    I even had a much higher ELO. In my first international tournament, I defeated Bojan Kurajica and made a draw with the then top USSR grandmaster Oleg Romanishin after a very long and hard game.

    But precisely, the problem was that playing at such a level was not compatible with my reseach activity. And in the 1980's, I had to pay special attention to scientific policy in France.

    In 1983, I was elected to the Theoretical Physics section of the Comité National de la Recherche Scientifique, and I had simultaneously to face the "political" difficulties met by cross-disciplinary projects involving Particle Physics, Astrophysics and other domains of Physics and Chemistry. French Particle Physics institutions were then reluctant to get involved in such an interaction with other fields of research.

    And for a theorist, it was particularly "unconventional" to get involved in cryogenic detector developments and use He3 and dilution refrigerators, as I did. Together with a CNRS colleague (Denis Perret-Gallix), I invented the luminescent (or scintillating) bolometer later developed by the Ettore Fiorini team in Milano and by the CRESST collaboration in Garching and other places. See, for instance, my 1988  "mini-rapporteur" talk at the Munich ICHEP. I also gave a rapporteur talk at the ESO-CERN Symposium the same year.

    This is how it became more and more difficult for me to concentrate on chess. I agree it was a pity.


    Dear Luis,

    now I would definitely love to meet you in person ! Any chance for you to visit Venice ? I am sure you have many interesting stories to tell... If you are willing to share one with the readers here, such as the one of the invention of the scintillating bolometer, I will be quite happy!

    In any case, I am sure that you continue to watch chess games, as your other comment betrays ;-)

    Luis Gonzalez-Mestres
    Dear Tommaso,

    Thank you indeed. We were both in Crete at ICFP2012 and ICNFP 2013, but we were busy. I imagine we shall meet at ICNFP 2014 with more time to talk.

    No problem to write an article on the scintillating bolometer.


    ! that caught me off guard - I did not expect it. Sure, I hope we will both be there and then we'll find time to chat and maybe even play some blitz :)

    If you decide to do this outreach piece, the rules are simple - you send me a text (not .doc please, just plain ascii) and figures to attach if any. Once published, I would ask you to log in here at least once a day for a few days to answer possible questions in the comments thread...

    Luis Gonzalez-Mestres
    Happy New Year, by the way !

    This year, the Chess Olympiad will be in Norway.

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