IM MAS (2422) vs GM OSCAR DE LA RIVA AGUADO (2521)
Mas gets another GM! Thanks to the Malaysian players who played courageously to win during Mas' hibernation. Hopefully Mas emerged from it unscathed tomorrow. As for GM Oscar, he is the highest rated player in Andorra. His performance in this Olympiad has been quite remarkable, losing only once in his first game against the Russian, and drawing twice to Megaranto of Indonesia and Hansen Sune Berg of Denmark. It will be a tough call, but I know Mas can pull off an upset, like he did against GM Rozentalis.
Oscar WILL PUSH 1.e4 to meet Mas' Sicilian Defense. So far in this Olympiad, he won against GM Yehuda's Sicilian by selecting 3.c3 for his third move. We can expect fire on the board tomorrow, because slow maneuvering is Mas' forte. He used 3.c3 again when he won against Ryan Harper of the Trinidad and Tobago. Thus, safely to say, 3.c3 is his pet line against the Sicilian, and Mas should take note of that and prepare properly.
All the best for tomorrow, Mas! (I'm going to sleep now, it's already 2.00 am when this post is published)
I'm following Mas' game LIVE. My prediction did not materialized; GM Oscar did not push 3.c3. However, he did not play the main line either, but retreated his Knight to f3. In the above position, he just moved his knight to e1. He has to reposition his Knight, quite common in this line. Mas let his pawns to be doubled at e6, but the GM refuses. The position is quite balanced, and Mas surely does not stand worst.
After just five moves from previous diagram, we arrive at the endgame phase. Mas has a Bishop compared to his opponent's Knight. Both pieces are now defending the fort for the time being, while the two Rooks are repositioning to premium squares. Personally, I like Mas' position because he has more active Rooks.
Now, Mas just has to activate his King. Neither has a passed pawn yet, but White's b and c pawn are under scrutiny. However, Mas a pawn could be a problem. My prediction, Mas can escape with a draw if he plays correctly.
So, the Knight goes to battle first while the Bishop still defending. I think Mas made a mistake when he did not push the Knight before White put his Rook at d1. Moreover, Mas could be in a big problem if the b pawn starts rolling.
At last, the Bishop comes to life! By this time, all the other boards already finished. Mok drew, Peter won and Tan lost. It is now up to Mas to take Malaysia to glory, and personally to take his GM ambition a step further.