Third time lucky

February 22, 2008

I finally got to play a game with white and it resulted in a win for me, albeit with a bit of luck. Here’s the link to replay the game:

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6
I don’t think I have played against the Alekhine defence in OTB play, though I have played it a number of times on-line. I believe the two main moves in this position are f4 and Nf3. I have played both before but am more comfortable after the exchange on d6. White has more space and a better control of the center.
5.exd6 exd6
Capture with the c-pawn is more common, but there is nothing wrong with this move either.
6.Nc3 Bf5
Now this was a bit more unusual. Normal moves are Nc6 or Be7, as it is still not clear where the light squared bishop should land.
7.Nf3 Nc6 8.a3
Preventing 8…Nb4 targeting the weak c2 square. Bd3 was probably better, exchanging off the light-squared bishop.
8…a5 9.Be2 [Bd3] g6 10.O-O
The computer suggests 10.d5 Ne7 11.Qd4 Rg8 12.0-0 Bg7 13.Qd1 where white is slightly better, having prevented black from castling kingside. And he is well positioned to take up the initiative on the queenside.
If 10.d5 Ne5 11.Nxe5 dxe5 12.c5 Nd7 13.Be3 white is again slightly better because of his space advantage and active pieces.
10…Bg7 11.Bf4 a4 12.Qd2 [Bd3] O-O 13.Nb5
The point of this move is to target the weak c7 pawn. He cannot move it because then d6 is weak. For the same reason, d6 cannot be moved because of the c7 pawn. My aim is to try and get c5 in at some point, to take advantage of his weakness. But black finds an active plan to thwart my idea.
13…Na5 14.Qc3 Nb3 15.Rad1
I wonder if 15.Rae1 was better, putting it on the open file. I was saving e1 for my other rook but it was probably more essential to take control of the e-file as quickly as possible.
15…Nd7 16.Nd2 Ndc5 17.Nxb3 Nxb3 18.Bf3 Qc8 19.Rfe1 Bg4 20.Re7 Qf5
And here, I fell into the same trap as I did two games back. I spotted a tactical idea, but I didn’t spend enough time going over it carefully. I could feel the blood rushing to my head, and I didn’t calm myself enough to spot my hanging rook on d1.
The first big mistake of the game. After this, I am just lost. g3 was a much better option.
21…Qxf4 22.Re4 Qxe4 23.Bxe4 Bxd1 24.Nxa8 Rxa8
The tactical spurt is over. Black has three pieces and a rook against my queen and bishop.
25.Qd3 Bg4 26.h3 Bd7 27.Bxb7 Re8 28.Bd5 Nxd4 29.h4 Bf5 30.Qd1 Nc2 31.Kh2 Re1 32.Qd2 Re8??
Black’s turn to return the favor. I am now seemingly back from the dead. I can take advantage of the fact that his light-squared bishop doesn’t have any other squares on the b1-h7 diagonal from which it can protect the knight. 32…Be5+ 26.g3 was much better, pinning the g-pawn and not allowing me to play g4. But, by this time, black was in severe time trouble, having about a minute to finish move 35. Normally, that should be enough for someone, but my opponent was labouring and muttering, trying to find the perfect move.
33.g4! Bxg4 34.Qxc2 Re2 35.Qc1? 1-0
The penultimate mistake. Qxa4 and I hold the advantage. This move allows black to play Bxb2 and regain the advantage.
Instead, he tried to play Rxf2 and his flag fell playing the move, so I won on time. Nevertheless, with Rxf2, the advantage is definitely with me after Kg3, and I will win another piece.


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