h1

An absolute blunderfest, but a win nonetheless

May 7, 2008

Last week was the last match of the season for the Bedford Chess League. My team needed a match victory to ensure 5th place in the standings, a step up from last place (8th) last year. I was playing black on board 3, matched up against a much lower rated player. As always, the game can be replayed here.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.a4

I have recently started playing the Semi-Slav as black in online chess but this is my first attempt over the board. In this gambit variation, play is normally extremely sharp with 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 and white has a strong initiative for the pawn. With my opponent instead playing a4, trying to prevent b5, I tried to take advantage of the hole on b4.

7…Bb4 8.e3 Qa5 9.Qc1? Ne4 10.Bxc4 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Bxc3+ 12.Ke2 Bxa1 13.Qxa1 O-O 14.Rb1 Nd7 15.Nd2 Nb6 16.Bb3 Bd7 17.Be7 Rfe8 18.Bc5 Nd5 19.Nc4 Qa6 20.Ke1 b6 21.Ba3 Rec8 22.e4 Nf4 23.g3 Ng6 24.Nd6 Qa5+ 25.Kf1 Rc7 26.Qb2 Qh5 27.h4 [Diagram]

Until this point, my play might not have been very accurate but it has been enough to garner a near-winning advantage. After going up in material fairly early on, I was pushed onto the defensive as I was behind in development while white was able to exert a fair amount of pressure. After needing to be careful about my queen getting trapped for a few moves, I felt fairly confident that the queen’s jump to the kingside, coupled with the opening up of the position with c5 would settle the game quite quickly.

27…c5??

A huge blunder. Now my queen is trapped. 27…Qf3 would have still maintained my advantage.

28.Bd1! Qxd1+ 29.Rxd1 Bxa4

Against a stronger opponent I would have probably resigned after his 28th move. Instead, I decided to play on with a rook and two pawns against a queen and give my opponent a chance to redeem the favour.

30.Rc1 Rd8 31.e5 Bc6 32.Qd2 Bd5 33.h5 Nf8 34.g4 f6 35.f4 Bf3 36.g5 hxg5 37.fxg5 fxe5 38.Nb5 Rf7 39.Ke1 Bxh5 40.Qh2 Bg6 41.Ke2?

Question marks could have been attached to most of the previous white moves, as at some point or the other, he should have played dxc5, giving me isolated, doubled pawns on the e-file and another weak, isolated pawn on the c file. Now he instead loses another pawn for no gain whatsoever.

It is also quite likely that question marks can be attached to several of my moves as they weren’t the best moves. But I was trying not to make forcing moves; instead providing my opponent with several options and more ways to go wrong.

41…exd4 42.Rh1 Nh7 43.Bc1 a6 44.Nd6 Rfd7 45.Bf4 b5 46.Be5 c4 47.Kd2

Sensing the strength of my connected passed pawns, my opponent offered me a draw. Here was my final blunder of the game. With the other games of the match already completed, I should have looked to my captain to find the match score (It was 2.5-1.5 and a draw in this game would have clinched us the match). The right move on my part would have been to accept the draw at this point. However, feeling that I was better already, I declined the draw and kept playing.

47…c3+ 48.Kc1 d3 49.Qh3 Rxd6 50.Bxd6 Rxd6 0-1

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