h1

Back from my hiatus

April 15, 2008

After a long break, I finally played a game last week and won (with black). You can replay it here.

1.e4 c5 2.c4 e6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nf3 d5 [Nf6] 5.cxd5 exd5 6.exd5 Qxd5 7.Nc3 Qd8 8.Qb3!?
When I played d5, I thought I might get into some trouble opening up my king before finishing development. On the other hand, I couldn’t stomach the idea of playing a very closed position with lots of maneuvering. On the plus side, he is also not castled and he has an isolated d-pawn that I can target. I hadn’t seen white’s 8th move when I played d5 and I am not sure I would have gone for this line if I had seen it. But it presents no real dangers though I have to keep a wary eye out for tactical ideas on f7.

8…Nf6 9.Ng5?
Trying to immediately target the f7 square. At this point however, it is easily defended, and in fact gives me the initiative.

9…Qe7+ 10.Be2 Nd4 11.Qd1 Bg4 12.Nge4?
Giving up a pawn in the process. Be3 was perfectly playable, developing another piece and preparing to castle.

12…Nxe4 13.dxe4 Bxe2 14.Nxe2 Qxe4
At this point, I was feeling extremely good about my position. I was up a pawn, my pieces were active and he couldn’t castle because his bishop on e2 would be underprotected. He could play Be3 or f3, to try and lessen the pressure but that would create new weaknesses that I could target.

15.O-O?!
I had been so sure he couldn’t castle that I had all but ignored that move in my calculations. When he castled anyway, I had to take a closer look at the position and realized that he was counting on winning the piece back by pinning my knight on e2. Instinctively I felt I should be able to grab his piece and hold on but even after 20 minutes of thought, I couldn’t find a concrete refutation over the board. Not wanting to give him any sort of initiative, I declined the piece and played…

15…Nc2??
I definitely need to work on my tactics. I had seen 15…Nxe2+ 16.Kh1 Rd8 17.Bd2 but couldn’t figure out a continuation beyond this. The computer shows 17…Rd6! 18.Re1 Re6 and I can hold on to the extra piece. I was so concerned about my exposed king that I failed to see the rook lift! My move gives him back the initiative.

Analysis diagram after 18...Re6

16.Nc3 Qg6 17.Rb1?
I was really worried about 17.Nd5 as that would have given me some hard problems to solve.

17…Rd8 18.Qe2+ Be7 19.Qb5+?
I think Nb5 was actually stronger, threatening Nc7+ and Nxa7.

19…Rd7 20.Be3 a6 21.Qa4 b5 22.Nxb5?
Now, down a piece, white goes down quickly. 22.Qf4 would have made life far more difficult for me. Any other queen move however, and it would have been trapped.

22…axb5 23.Qxb5 Nxe3 24.fxe3 Qd3 25.Qb8+ Rd8 26.Qf4? O-O 27.Rbd1 Qg6 28.Qc7 Bd6 29.Qb7 Qh5 30.g3 Bxg3 31.hxg3 Rxd1 32.Rxd1 Qxd1+ 33.Kf2 Rd8 34.Qe4 0-1

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