by Ian Rogers
At the Reykjavik Open, the conditions for the top players include coupons for some of Reykjavik’s best restaurants.
The Grandmaster couple Erwin and Alina l’Ami have been enjoying their meals at a rather later time than most, given their propensity for marathon games.
In the fourth round Alina found herself in a bishop and knight versus king endgame and managed to avoid any embarrassment, winning on the 95th move. Then it was off to Gandhi, the only one of the tournament restaurants where the chef stays on after 10pm.
On Sunday husband Erwin showed even greater powers of sitzfleisch in outlasting Huang Qian in an endgame which the pundits had written off as a draw.
We pick up the game at move 58, with Huang, White, making a decision not to defend passively and sacrificing a pawn to reach what should be a technically drawn endgame.
59.Rb4!? Rxa3 60.h4! e5 61.hxg5+ Kxg5 62.Rb8 Kf5 63.Rf8+
63.f3 Ra2+ 64.Kf1 was another technical draw, perhaps easier than the game.
63…Ke4 64.Rb8 Kd3 65.Kf3 Kd2+ 66.Kg4!? Kd3 67.Kf3 Ra4 68.Rd8+ Rd4 69.Ra8
Ten moves have passed since Huang gave up her pawn and l’Ami seems to have made some progress. Appearances can be deceptive – Black cannot go further forward from here.
69…Rd6 70.Ra4 Rc6 71.Ra8 Kd2 72.Ra2+ Kd3 73.Ra8 Rd6 74.Ra1 Kd4 75.Ra8 Kd5 76.Re8 Rd7 77.Rh8 Ra7 78.Rd8+ Ke6
Ten more moves have passed and Black has gone backwards.
79.Re8+ Kf6 80.Rf8+ Rf7 81.Rh8 Rb7 82.Rf8+ Ke6 83.Re8+ Re7 84.Rd8 Rd7 85.Re8+ Kd5 86.Ra8 Rd6 87.Re8 Ra6 88.Rd8+ Ke6
Ten more moves with nothing happening but now, with Huang playing on 30 second increments, l’Ami makes some progress.
Same procedure as last diagram, Huang must have thought, but 89.Ke4 was much simpler.
89…Kf5 90.Rf8+ Rf6 91.Re8
Zugzwang! White must now allow 92…e4, a minor triumph for Black, but hardly enough to win.
92.Ra8 e4+ 93.Ke2 Re7 94.Ra5+ Re5 95.Ra8 Rb5 96.Rf8+ Ke5 97.Kf1
Rather unnecessary – 97.Re8+ Kd4 98.Rd8+ Rd5 99.Ra8 would be the simplest defence.
Ten more moves gone and this time Black has really made some progress (and broken his wife’s move record for the tournament).
Now Huang must be very precise.
Heading in the wrong direction. 98.Re8+ Kd4 99.Rd8+ Rd5 100.Ra8 would hold – the same procedure as in the previous note.
A missed opportunity, which could have been expensive. After 98…Rb1+ 99.Kh2 Rf1 White cannot save the f pawn, though there are a few tricks: 100.Re8+ Kf5 101.Rf8+ Kg4!! (101…Kg5 102.Kg3 Rg1+ 103.Kh3 is only a draw.) 102.Rg8+ Kh5 103.Rh8+ Kg5! 104.Rg8+ (Now 104.Kg3 fails because 104…Rg1+ 105.Kh3 Rh1+ wins a rook.) 104…Kf6! when Black’s delicate dance with the king leaves White helpless since 105.Kg3 Rg1+ wins the rook on g8.
99.Rd8+ Kc4 100.Ra8?
Huang errs again, and this time l’Ami is not going to miss a second chance to go for dinner. 100.Rd1 was sad, and might still, in practice, have resulted in a loss in the long run given the time situation, but objectively Huang is hanging on.
100…Rb1+ 101.Kh2 e3! 102.Rc8+ Kd5 103.Rd8+ Kc6 0–1