Of course, I don't know much about what happened in other games, so this review is limited to my own games.
My group stage games were against the formidable trio of the much improved Janne Kauppinen (2–0), the Karpovian Pentti Wigelius (2–0), and the electrical research genius Jonne Koski (1–1). Quite interestingly, though he was on the lower end of the rating spectrum, my only official loss of the tournament was to Mr. Koski.
My quarter-final opponent was Arto Heimonen who played with an aggressive style, but his positional weaknesses didn't allow his attacking threats to fully mature. (2–0)
My semi-final opponent was Antti Kähkönen. The man who took down the great Jyrki Heikkinen in the quarter-finals. His selo rating of 1600 odd didn't accurately reflect on his true playing ability, which is understandable since he hadn't played in a rated tournament in many years. A very good positional player. I thought his chess demonstrated a lot of patience and self-restraint; he always looked to make small improvements to his position rather than lash out aggressively. (1½–½)
My opponent in the final was the economist Petri Mäki-Fränti. The man who took down the great Antti Suominen in the semi-finals. Another giant killer. I would have to say that I don't think the eventual result (1½–½) clearly reflects who the better player was. As you can see from our games, I simply got a bit lucky. His positional sense is excellent, and he has a knack for pulling out surprising tactics, which makes him a very dangerous opponent.
Our games (time control 30 + 30 minutes with no increments because we were using an analog clock):
- Kumar – Mäki-Fränti ½–½. I'm a bit embarrassed to be broadcasting this game on the Internet, because though I played well in the beginning, I made a huge blunder in the middle game and was absolutely lost thereafter but just played on any way since we were both low on time... I have to admit I felt a bit guilty for not doing the dignified thing and resigning... but anyway, in the end it was a silly time scramble which ultimately ended in a stalemate (Rook + Queen vs. King), and both of us had run out of time too. So yea, a draw. Sorry to disappoint all the fans who were hoping to see a battle of gladiators.
- Mäki-Fränti – Kumar 0–1. Here I got into a slightly favorable position in the middle game, but then allowed him to make a powerful attack and seize the initiative. However, he missed one critical move (see the puzzle below) which would have justified the attack. After that miss, the game went to a rook and pawn ending that was slightly favorable for black.
Can you find the best continuation for White?
30.Rf4! Ke7 31.Rxg6 with strong advantage. The game, however, continued 30.Re4 Qh5 31.Qxh5 gxh5 32. Rxb4 Rxc2 = (Petri Mäki-Fränti – Ashwin Kumar, Lauttasaari Spring Cup final 29.6.2015).
Next up is the Autumn Cup. Better sign up fast if you want to have a shot at taking down the Champ.
(Written by Ashwin Kumar)