Archive for September, 2008

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Tied for the lead with a round to go

September 28, 2008

The last few games I have played is in an internal Swiss competition lasting five rounds. Since the rounds are played at times convenient to the players, not all games for the 4th round have finished – but the two top boards have played and I am now tied for the lead with 3.5 points. The one thing I do know is that I won’t be playing my co-leader because we split the point back in round 2 already.

This latest game (with me as white) turned out to be a miniature and reminded me of a famous quote by Tartakower“The winner of the game is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake”.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 d6 5. c4 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. Nc3 Nf6 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O Bd7 10. Qd2 Ng4 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bg5 f6 13. Bh4 Qa5 14. Rad1 Be6

Until this point, I felt that both of us were playing reasonably well. I felt I had the initiative and felt it was time to push my kingside pawns.

15. f4 Qb6+ 16. Kh1? [Bf2] Rab8??

Returning the favour. 16…Ne3 17. Na5 Nxf1 18. Nxb6 Nxd2 19. Nxa8 Rxa8 20. Rxd2 keeps the material even and is probably heading for a draw.

17. b3??

I follow up his error with one of my own. 17 f5! Bxf5 exf5 Ne3 and I win two pieces for a rook and pawn. Even though he has an open file on the queen-side, I felt this would have been to my advantage. Luckily for me, I saw all of this while he was thinking whereas he didn’t.

17…Qe3??

The comedy of errors continues (and ends). 17…Ne3 was even stronger than the option on the previous move as the rook is no longer on a8 and he goes up an exchange!

18. Bxg4 Qxd2 19. Bxe6+ 1-0.

Down two pieces, black resigned.

This interesting position arose in a blitz game I played earlier today. In a board full of pieces, my opponent’s king achieved the ignominy of being the most advanced piece of his entire army (all the way to his sixth rank!)

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My biggest scalp to date

September 9, 2008

Playing black against the highest-rated player I’ve played since I moved to the UK and winning was definitely sweet. He was likely suffering from rust, not having played in about 3 months, but I’m not complaining. He held an advantage well into the middle-game, with a lasting initiative and a lack of queen-side development on my part but a couple of inaccuracies followed by a blunder left me up a piece and I was able to duly convert the win. My record in the UK now stands at +7-3=1.

1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 e6 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. Be3 Ng4 7. Nbd2!?

I didn’t expect him to give up his dark squared bishop so easily. As we will see in the game, he now uses the open f-file to create pressure on my kingside. But I also use it to find a safe haven for my queen.

7…Nxe3 8. fxe3 Be7 9. Bd3 O-O 10. O-O Qh5

For any number of moves now, it was quite possible to kick my queen from its central post with a gain of tempo. Until he gave up his dark squared bishop, I had been intending to retreat the queen back to d8. But in its absence, I decided to move it to h5, intending it to become the dragon bishop if needed to defend my kingside (after playing Qh6, g6 and Qg7).

11. Qc2 Nd7?!

I had a long think here. I was in real danger of allowing white to build up a kingside attack with no counter-attacking chances for myself. The only plan I could come up with was to challenge in the centre. One option was to play f5 at some point to block the b1-h7 diagonal but I was worried about the backwards pawn on e6. The other option was to play e5 and carry out a series of exchanges and also activate my c8 bishop. To this end, I needed to play Nc6 or Nd7 to support the e5-push. With Nc6, I was worried about d5, when my knight has no good retreat squares. Therefore Nd7, even further restricting the scope of my light-squared bishop.

12. a4 e5 13. Rae1 g6 14. Nc4 Bf6 15. Nd6 exd4 16. exd4 cxd4 17. Bc4?

In my opinion, he should have just played cxd4. This gives up a pawn without adequate compensation. With this move and the next, white goes from having a distinct advantage to losing.

17…dxc3! 18. Nxf7??

Here, my opponent had a long think before playing this move. This allows me to go up a piece. For the rest of the game, I was more interested in shutting down any possible counter-play and bringing the rest of my pieces into play.

The main continuation that I was looking at over the board was probably better than his eventual choice: [18.Bxf7 Kg7 Nxc8 Rac8 Bb3 cxb2 Qb1 -/+ (diagram)]

The rest of the game requires no commentary – I managed to reel in the full point!

18…Qc5+! 19. Kh1 Qxc4 20. Nd6 Qb4 21. Qd3 Nb6 22. Ne5 Be7 23. Ndc4 Bf5 24.Qf3 Nxc4 25. Qd5+ Kg7 26. Nxc4 cxb2 27. Nxb2 Rad8 28. Qa2 Rd2 0-1