Scottish Championsip - Paul Motwani Reflects
by Grandmaster Paul Motwani
I will always remember and treasure the 2009 Scottish Chess Championships
for the stunning venue, superb organisation, excellent conditions, generous support,
great friendships, fighting chess, and sometimes painful yet invaluable lessons which
I experienced at Edinburgh City Chambers after not having played a full tournament
anywhere since 2005.
Since then, most of my time had been taken up with a combination of family life
and numerous commitments linked to my teaching job at St. John's International
School in Waterloo, Belgium.
However, I certainly did not want to miss out on returning to Scotland for an
extra-special open-format championship including ten grandmasters in this
"Year of Homecoming
" which celebrates the 250th anniversary since the
birth of the most famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns.
(pieces from the Rabbie Burns Chess set).
Poetry may be considered as a beautiful form of art, and I took it
as a compliment when English GM Mark Hebden
(who, by the way, was the only undefeated player in Edinburgh this year)
once told me, long ago, that he felt I played chess like an artist,
whereas he, being a professional player, had to be particularly practical in his play
in order to maximise results. Mark does that very well indeed.
He fully deserved his win against me in round 5, and continued to make the most of his
opportunities in subsequent games. His final tally of 7 points was surpassed only by the
outright winner, S. Arun Prasad on 7.5/9.
The Indian grandmaster recovered magnificently after an early round 3 loss to Iceland's
young FM Gudmundur Kjartansson, who achieved his first GM norm by notching up 6.5 points
in impressive fashion. That included a sharp round 4 victory over the other participating
Indian GM, Magesh Chandran Panchanathan, who, the previous day, had just beaten Scotland's
best-ever player, GM Dr. Jonathan Rowson,
in a game that deservedly won the Best-Game Prize of 250 pounds donated by Lord Kirkwood.
[Click here to replay the game]
M.Panchanathan - J.Rowson
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Bc5 6.Nb3 Be7 7.0-0 d6 8.c4 Nf6 9.Nc3 b6 10.f4 Nbd7 11.Qe2 Bb7 12.Kh1 Qc7 13.Bd2 h5 14.Nd4 g6 15.f5 gxf5 16.exf5 e5 17.Ne6 fxe6 18.fxe6 Nf8 19.Bg5 Rg8 20.Bxf6 Bxg2+ 21.Qxg2 Rxg2 22.Nd5 Qc5 23.Bxe7 Nxe6 24.Kxg2 Kd7 25.Bf5 Qa5 26.Bxe6+ Kxe6 27.Rf6+ Kd7 28.Rxd6+ Ke8 29.Rf1 Qd2+ 30.Kh1
Besides Prasad on 7.5 and Hebden on 7 points, the only other player to score more than
Kjartansson (or England's GM Aaron Summerscale, IM Andrew Greet, and Scotland's FM
Iain Gourlay also on 6.5 points-many congratulations, Iain!) was Slovakia's GM Jan Markos,
who finished as joint runner-up with Hebden.
As White against Markos in the penultimate eighth round, I had possibly the most painful
loss of my entire career when I really horribly messed up a winning position and effectively
ended any personal possibility of becoming Scottish Champion.
However, from that painful loss, and subsequent invaluable advice from Jonathan Rowson,
Craig Thomson, and (via the telephone) my wife Jenny, I learned a golden lesson which
I would like to share with you now.
I knew that I had lost the game against Jan Markos principally because of time-trouble,
which has been my biggest weakness on so many other occasions too. And time-trouble is,
of course, a result of thinking too much.
But Craig, Jenny, and Jonathan helped me to really understand better WHY that
has been happening, and how I might handle it by being more PRACTICAL.
Craig pointed out that, most of the time, there will be an element of UNCERTAINTY in chess,
and it's how one deals with that uncertainty that matters.
I had been trying excessively hard to keep everything clean and clear, often by calculating
far too much. Jonathan recommended that I (and indeed all players) should place
MORE TRUST IN PERSONAL INTUITION
in order to make decisions
in a much lighter, easier way.
Then Jenny added that I should be using psychology in a positive, practical way by
playing faster in the openings to improve self-confidence and put some pressure on
opponents early-on in each game.
Now, you might think that there's nothing much new or surprising there. However,
even though I had worked intensively on chess at home prior to the tournament,
it's not quite the same as getting practical experience, and in Edinburgh I did at times find
that the lack of recent match practice made things tough.
But now I feel in a very happy, positive way that I would like to play a bit more again,
when possible, and in my mind I resolved before the last round in Edinburgh to approach the game
in a more practical way, at least a bit more like Mark Hebden.
Graham Morrison and Paul in the analysis room.
I am quite pleased with my 9th round 25-move win as Black against FM Michael White
which was (in terms of move-count) the shortest decisive game of the final round,
and I will give that game with annotations below.
First, though, I would like to personally mention some people or organisations deserving
of special thanks (and I apologise most sincerely in advance for any unintentional omissions):
City of Edinburgh Council; Lord Provost George Grubb; Lord Kirkwood; Chess Suppliers; ICC;
GMs Jacob Aagaard and John Shaw of Quality Chess; the excellent team of arbiters
led by Donald Wilson; all the organisers, including Geoff Chandler, Keith Ruxton,
and tournament director Alex McFarlane;
GM Keti Arakhamia-Grant and Jonathan Grant
(for friendship and very warm hospitality, as always, at their home);
Neil and Caroline Farrell; FM Craig Thomson.
Many congratulations again go to FM Iain Gourlay on becoming
this year's Scottish Champion with an excellent score of 6.5/9
half-a-point ahead of a group including myself, England's
FM David Eggleston, Germany's Manfred Herbold, and GMs Dr. Jonathan Rowson
and Dr. Colin McNab.
Jonathan is our greatest-ever player, and I want to specially
thank him for also being a great friend.
He very recently became a dad when his wife, Siva,
gave birth to their son, Kailash, in May.
So, Jonathan has been exceptionally busy with
lots of things on his mind relating to work
and family life, and yet he still took time
out to have some much-appreciated talks with me in Edinburgh.
He might even have gone on to win the tournament if he had won after declining a draw
in a superior position as Black in round 6 against Mark Hebden, but, as I indicated already,
Jonathan has had lots of other even more important things on his mind.
I'm sure we'll see him back soon, though, in his very best form.
Last, but not least, I also want to thank Colin
for being a great friend, too, and for inspiring me to take up the Modern Defence again!!
2009 Scottish Championships
, Round 9.
White: M. White; Black: P .Motwani. Opening: Modern Defence.
1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nc3 d6
Five years ago, I played 3…c6 in a couple of games.
With this quiet-looking move, White actually retains aggressive
options of following up with f4, g4, or h4.
The Modern Defence is a highly flexible opening, and here, too,
Black had numerous reasonable options.
5 Be3 a6
Many years ago, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I used to almost always
adopt a set-up involving …c6, but on this occasion I wanted to now experiment
a little with …a6, with ideas of …b5 and/or …c5.
6 f4 e6 7 Bf3 Rb8 8 a4 b6
Black's hypermodern configuration is sometimes referred to as the "Hippopotamus".
I'm sure that, to many players, it does indeed seem like a very odd-looking creature!
9 Nge2 Bb7 10 0-0 Ne7 11 Qb1?!
White handled the opening phase perfectly well, but here I feel that 11 Qd2,
restraining Black from playing …c5, would be much more to the point.
Sooner or later, Black must hit back in the Modern Defence to avoid
remaining too cramped. Here, I immediately seized the chance to strike
at White's centre, made possible by my opponent's previous move.
12 Qa2 Qc7 13 dxc5?! bxc5!
Seizing the initiative by effectively activating the b8-rook
and keeping a powerful cluster of pawns near the centre.
14 Rad1 0-0 15 Rd2 Nf6!
Afterwards, my opponent admitted that he had missed
this move, which threatens to play …d5 with great force.
16 Qa3 Rfc8
Overprotecting the c5-pawn to renew the threat of …d5.
17 a5 d5 18 exd5 Nfxd5
This keeps more control than 18…exd5,
which allows complications with 19 f5 Nxf5 20 Bf4.
White now cracks under the pressure. 19 Nxd5 is more tenacious.
19…Nxc3 20 Nxc3
This loses, but although 20 bxc3 may offer slightly more resistance,
White's pawn structure after 20…Bxf3 21 gxf3 would be so badly shattered
that Black should still win easily.
20…Bxf3 21 gxf3 Qxf4 22 Rd7 Nf5 23 Bxc5 Be5 24 Rf2 Bxc3!
Winning by force.
If 25 bxc3, then 25…Rb1+ or 25…Qg5+ is decisive.
26 White resigned, in view of 26 Rg2 Qc1+ 27 Kf2 Rxb2 or
26 Kh1 Rxc5! (26 Kf1 Rxc5! is practically the same) 27 Qxc5 Ng3+ 28 hxg3 Qxc5.
[Click here to replay the game]
M.White - P.Motwani
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Be2 Nd7 5.Be3 a6 6.f4 e6 7.Bf3 Rb8 8.a4 b6 9.Nge2 Bb7 10.0-0 Ne7 11.Qb1 c5 12.Qa2 Qc7 13.dxc5 bxc5 14.Rad1 0-0 15.Rd2 Nf6 16.Qa3 Rfc8 17.a5 d5 18.exd5 Nfxd5 19.Bf2 Nxc3 20.Nxc3 Bxf3 21.gxf3 Qxf4 22.Rd7 Nf5 23.Bxc5 Be5 24.Rf2 Bxc3 25.Qxc3 Qg5+
GM Paul Motwani.
Back to Chandler Cornered