Roquetas de Mar: round 4 – 9

The Roquetas tournament is over. My intention was to write more reports during the tournament than I did, but the tournament schedule was tougher than I anticipated and besides playing chess I decided to enjoy Spanish weather which was beautiful compared to the grey and rainy weather back home. I thoroughly enjoyed playing and I thoroughly enjoyed the sunny atmosphere – in addition to the fact that I played quite well, it was a very good experience.

At the end of my previous report my score was 2.5 out of 3. I managed to add 3.5 point to my score, ending with 6 out of 9 winning some rating points in the end.

In round 4 I had to play against my young compatriot Liam Vrolijk and to be honest I had no chance at all and was simply outclassed. Liam played impressively and he improved his position move by move, whereas my pieces could not find any nice squares to occupy. That was a good lesson. Not only was Liam playing a lot better than I did, it was also clear that his preparation was of a different class than mine and unfortunately, this was not the only game in the tournament I experienced this. More work to do in the coming months.

Round 5 was played on the same day as round 4. Playing two rounds a day is usually not too big a problem for me, as long as I can manage to avoid losing. Now that I lost in the morning, it was time to show some mental toughness. I was paired with a young Spanish player which was not an ideal situation as he was probably underrated. I handled the opening a bit bitter and he tried to overcome his small problems by tactical means:

Koen Leenhouts (2419) – Jose Antonio Garrido Diaz (2182)

Black played 16…Nb6 and his idea was to meet my move 17.Bxc6 with 17…Na4 and it seems as if my queen has no good square to keep protecting the bishop. However, I have the opportunity to get a position with three pieces for my queen which is extremely good for me: 18.Bxb7 Nxc3 19. bxc3 and although my technique was not flawless, I managed to win the game without too many problems.

On Friday there was only one round and that gave us the opportunity to relax a bit on Thursday evening and explore the area around Roquetas on Friday morning. Sometimes you are so busy with your tournament that you forget to do something else, but later on these are often the things you remember.

As I was playing another young Spanish player in round 6, my plan was to play a side line, so I would not have to worry about some deep preparation. Alas, this was not the case. Even in my side line, my opponent played a lot of moves without taking a second. That was not an ideal scenario, but I managed to react quite well and a tense game unfolded.  Right at the moment when I outplayed my opponent and a winning advantage was within reach, I blundered.

Roger Bernado Lopez (2145) – Koen Leenhouts (2419)

My plan was to go 42…Kh6 which would have secured a big advantage. Even better would have been 42…Kf6, but my move 42…Kg8 was a blunder. After 43.Qf2 I realised just in time that after 43…Qxg4 White has the very strong 44.Nxe4! Nxe4 45.Qxf3! and Black has to fight for a draw. Therefore, I went 43…Qf4, but here as well White had a trick: 44.Nxf3! and it becomes clear why I had to move my king to h6 or f6 to protect my knight on g6. In time trouble I tried to confuse my opponent without too much succes: 44…Qc1+ 45.Ne1 e3 46.Qg3 Nf4 47.Qxf4 Qxe1+ 48.Qf1 Qg3 49.Qf6 Nc4

Here, White is winning as he can simply play 50.Bf5. I have no threats and no perpetual check, so things will not end well. To my surprise and relief my opponent was happy with a draw and he played 50. Qg6+ Kf8 51.Qf6+ and a draw was agreed. Things could have ended worse here.

Saturday was another day with two rounds. My score after  6 rounds was 4 out of 6 and a win in round 7 would be most welcome. I managed to do so, but my play was uneven. Out of the opening I had a big advantage, but later on I had to fight for equality. In looming time trouble I played a move my opponent undoubtedly had missed:

Koen Leenhouts (2419) – Adrian Jimenez Ruano (2218)

31.c3! was a nice move. After 31…Qxd3 White wins material with 32.Rd1 due to the pin over the d-file. In the game I was a pawn up after 31…Qc4 32.Nxe5 and later on I won the game.

In round 8 I played a relatively correct draw against GM Krystof Jakubowski (2470 ) with Black which was a good result. In the final round I was White against IM Pelle Garriga Cazorla (2489) A win would mean a very good tournament, a draw meant a decent tournament whereas a loss would be disappointing. The game was a typical last round game with a lot of mistakes from both sides.

Koen Leenhouts (2419) – Pelle Garriga Cazorla (2489)

I realised I had played the opening badly and I saw that my opponent had the move 15…b4! 16.fxe5 bxc3 17.exf6 Qxf6 and I assessed this position as not very nice for me, but still complicated. According to the engine Black has too many threats and White is just lost. Garriga Cazorla played 15…Nc4 and I was able to breathe again.

After he missed this chance, I was better for the larger part of the game and my biggest chance came on move 34

Black’s position is fragile. He has no threats and many weaknesses. I wanted to prevent the black queen from coming to the a7-g1 diagonal which was the right idea. However, my 34.Qd4? was not the right execution. 34.Qf2! was. The difference is that in the game Black could play 34…Re1+ to gain counterplay. My winning chances were gone and I was even happy to escape with a draw.

In the end, I scored 6 out of 9. I am satisfied with my level of play. Apart from the game against Vrolijk, I never had the feeling that I was a worse player than my opponents even though I played some strong players. It was clear, however, that my openings were a bit vulnerable against well prepared opponents and it was also clear that converting better positions is something to be improved.

Hopefully, the next tournament will follow soon, but nowadays we never know!