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Tournament victory

November 19, 2008

After a month and a half of no serious chess games (I did play 4 rated blitz games in the interim, with 2 wins and 2 losses), I have now played two in one week. The first of these was last Thursday in the final round of the Swiss tournament mentioned in my previous chess-related post. With a win in the game, I finished the tourney with 4.5/5. My opponent from round 2 is yet to play his final round and he still has a shot at tying me for first place. Nevertheless, this is a pretty good achievement for me.

The game itself was remarkable. We replayed the same opening we had played earlier. I quickly got myself into trouble and was lucky to parry his threats through the opening and middle game. When we got into the endgame, my opponent had a very passive rook and a horrible bishop against my very active rook and wonderful central knight, leading to a very easy conversion.

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 e6 3. f4 d5 4. e5 d4

Knowing that I threw away our win in our previous encounter, I was fully expecting him to go for the same suspect line grabbing a rook and pawn for his knight and bishop and this time making him suffer for it. If it weren’t for this misguided thought, I should have probably played Nc6 and played with a more French-like structure. This now allows him to mount a serious initiative against my king-side.

5.  Ne4 Nh6 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Bc4 O-O 8. O-O Bd7

This is the first variation from our previous game. Previously I had played 8…a6.

9. Nfg5 Bc6?

Already, my position is getting quite dicey. The computer only gives white a half-pawn advantage but it is quite nerve-racking to see him bring so many pieces into the attack so quickly! I think I should have preferred Nc6, allowing the bishop to go to e8.

10. Qh5 Bxe4 11. Nxe4 Nc6  12. a3 a6?

The start of a not-so-good plan. My idea was to follow up with b5, and if he kept his bishop on the a2-g8 diagonal, I could play d3, blocking the d2 pawn and seriously hampering his queen-side development. What the computer now shows me is that d3 was playable straight away with the same goal. He cannot play Bxd3, because after …c4 Bxc4 Qd4+, I win a piece for 2 pawns.

13. Rf3 b5 14. Ba2 c4 15. d3 Qd5 16. Rg3 Nf5 17. Rh3 h6 18. Qg4 Kh8  19. Ng3 Ne3 20. Bxe3 dxe3 21. Nh5 g6

Until this point, the game had proceeded along reasonably logical lines. Rg8 was my other big choice here. I was feeling the pressure of constantly defending and wasn’t sure how much counter play I could muster after Rg8. While waiting for my opponent’s move, I started panicking. I was worried that after 22. Nf6 Bxf6 23. Rxh6+ Kg7 24. Qh3, I couldn’t see any lines where I would not be losing at least a rook. After checking with the computer, it turns out that had my opponent gone for this line, I could have in fact played 24…Nxe5, with an advantage for black – though I don’t know if I could have spotted it over the board.

22. Nf6 Bxf6 23. exf6!?

My opponent had a long think here about the same line discussed above. Though he couldn’t remember after the game why he chose not to go in for that variation, he said he saw a refutation that led him to just quietly recapture the piece.

23…h5 24. Qg5?

White should not have offered the trade of queens and gone for something like Qe2. Now his position becomes very hard to defend.

24…Qxg5 25.  fxg5 cxd3 26. cxd3 Nd4! 27. Re1 e2 28. g4 Kg8 29. gxh5 gxh5 30. Kf2 Rac8 31. Rh4 Rfd8 32. Bb1 Rc5! 33. Rxh5 Rf5+ 34. Kg2 Rdd5! 35. Rh3 Rxg5+ 36. Rg3 Rxg3+ 37.  hxg3 Rf5

The game is pretty much decided. His bishop has nowhere to go, his rook is hemmed in at e1, his king is cut off from the e2 pawn, while my pieces dominate the position. I felt so good about my position that I even turned down his offer of a piece on the next move to go grab a pawn!

38. Bc2 Rxf6 39. Bd1 exd1=Q 40. Rxd1 Rf3 41. Rd2 Kg7 42. Rd1 a5 43.  Rd2 a4 44. Rd1 Kg6 45. Rd2 Kg5 46. Rf2 Rxf2+ 47. Kxf2 f5 48. Ke3 e5 49. Kf2 Kg4  50. Kg2 Ne2 0-1

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