Archive for July, 2009

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More chess!

July 14, 2009

I wonder if I will spend all my life in catch-up mode.

The following game is against a player rated more than 200 in the BCF – my guess is approximately 2200 FIDE! So no wonder then that I lost, but I thought I did reasonably well considering…

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Be7 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O Nbd7 10. Bd3 b5 11. Rhe1 h6?

Here I got my theory mixed up. 10…h6 would’ve been just fine. After 10…b5, 11…Bb7 was the right approach.

12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. e5 Bb7 14. Be4 dxe5 15. Nxe6 fxe6 16. Bxb7 Rd8 17. fxe5 Nxe5 18. Rxd8+ Qxd8?

Interestingly enough, Fritz says that after 18…Kxd8 black is absolutely fine and the position is dead even. I keep looking at the position after Kxd8 – it just doesn’t feel right!

19. Qh5+ Kf8?

19…g6 and the position is still somewhat playable. My opponent was quite shocked that I played Kf8 with nary a thought; he was expecting g6. Well…I played Kf8 instantly because I thought the move was forced. And now I’m lost.

20. Rxe5 Bxe5 21. Qxe5 Qg5+ 22. Qxg5 hxg5 23. h3 b4 24. Ne4 g4 25. hxg4 Rh4 26. Nf2 a5 27. Kd2 Ke7 28. Kd3 Kd6 29. Kc4 Kc7 30. Bf3 Kb6 31. Kd4 Rh6 32. Ke5 Kc7 33. g5 Rh4 34. Kxe6 Rd4 35. Be4 Rd2 36. Nh3 a4 37. Nf4 b3 38. axb3 axb3 39. cxb3 Rxb2 40. Bd5 Rf2 41. g3 Rc2 42. Kf7 Rc3 43. Kxg7 Rxg3 44. Kf6 Kd8 45. g6 1-0

My next game, in contrast, was played against someone rated well below me. I was white:

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 Bg4 4. Be2 Bxe2 5. Qxe2 Qxd5 6. Nf3 e6 7. O-O c6 8. c4 Qd8 9. Nc3 Be7 10. Bf4 O-O 11. Rad1 Qa5?

In an opening unfamiliar to me (I have never previously faced 3…Bg4 in the Scandivanian, even in online blitz), my opponent was the first to deviate from theory with 6…e6 (my database had 4 games until my 6th move – all those games continued 6…Nc6). I just kept playing natural moves to gain a very comfortable position. Black’s last move allows me to open up the center with a pawn break in the center – his bishop is now unprotected.

12. d5 cxd5 13. cxd5 Qa6 14. Rfe1 Nh5 (Qxe2) 15. Bxb8 Raxb8 (Qxe2) 16. dxe6 Qxe6??

He should have traded queens on each of the last two moves, but here it was absolutely crucial. He could have survived a lot longer with fxe6 as well, but the actual move in the game allows for a quick finish!

17. Qb5 Qf6 18. Nd5 1-0

Carrying right on to my next game, a very tactical one and lots of fun to analyse:

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Be3 c6 5. f3 b5 6. g4 Nbd7 7. Qd2 Nb6 8. Bh6 Bxh6 9. Qxh6 Nc4 10. O-O-O Qa5 11. Bxc4 bxc4 12. Nge2 Rb8

I love playing against the Pirc – not that its not a sound opening. I tend to play exactly as I would against the Dragon – with f3, g4, etc. Typically this leads to opposite-side castling and a pawn race to pry open the opponent’s defences. The plans are simple, but one has to keep his eyes open for all sorts of tactical possibilities. With his last move, my opponent gave up his change to castle queenside. With my queen preventing castling on the kingside I felt it was time to open up the center and take aim at his king.

13. e5 dxe5 14. dxe5 Qxe5?!

I really didn’t think he would go through with this move. In his position, I would have tried to leave the e-file closed, move my knight away (maybe to d5), and bring the queen to the b-file to press home my attack. Now I have more than ample compensation for my sacrificed pawn.

15. Rhe1 Nd5 16. Nd4 Qf6 17. Ne4?

From here onwards, I miss wonderful tactical possibilities on every move! Unbelievable really – I was so sure when I played my thirteenth move that I would have these opportunities. Yet, move after move left me dismayed that I wasn’t finding them, despite trying ever so hard. Here 17. Nxc6 Qxc6 18. Nxd5 is devastating.

17… Qe5 18. c3?

Here, the immediate Nxc6 fails because of the weakness on b2 (hence c3, blocking the diagonal). But after 18. f4, the queen is forced off the diagonal and now: 18… Qc7 19. Nxc6 Qxc6 20. Rxd5! and winning. 20… Qxd5 is not possible because of 21. Nf6+!

18… Qc7 19. Qg7?!

Again, the tactic mentioned in the note to my 18th move works. 19. Nxc6 Qxc6 20. Rxd5!

19… Rf8 20. Nf6+?

Again: 20. Nxc6 Qxc6 21. Rxd5!

1-0

My opponent resigned prematurely at this point. I was quite worried about 20… Nxf6 21. Qxf6 Rb6 when I was unsure how I could maintain my advantage. The computer suggests 22. a4!! which is very powerful. It still leaves a fair bit to be done but the initiative is definitely with white. I doubt I would have seen this over the board but its incredible to me that despite my making sub-par efforts on my last 4 moves, I was still winning the game. Very satisfactory, especially because my opponent and I are rated very similarly.

OK, so I will throw in one more game into this post. Again, I am white, playing against someone just getting back to serious chess. Another good effort on my part:

1. e4 e6 2. d4 c5 3. d5 exd5 4. exd5 d6 5. c4 g6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Nf3 Bg4 8. h3 Bxf3 9. Qxf3 Nd7 10. Be2 a6 11. O-O f5 12. Bf4 Ne5 13. Qe3 Qe7 14. Rfe1 Nf6

Until this point, I have made very natural moves in a slightly unfamiliar opening. My opponent has made a few unforced moves which have put him under a little bit of pressure. He took an inordinate amount of time (35-40 mins!) to make his last move, one that is actually quite natural.  Speaking to him after the game, he felt like his pieces had been in good position – his bishop on g7, his knight on e5 etc. But all of a sudden he felt that though they occupied good squares, his position was very static and he was struggling to come up with a plan!

15. Bf1 Kd7?!

I was almost sure he was going to castle here. Admittedly, he would have been down a pawn after all the trades on e5 (he avoids it with this king move because he can win the exchange with an eventual Ne4). Now, with his king stuck in the center and his forces mainly on the kingside, I switch my attentions to opening up the queenside.

16. b4! b6

16… cxb4 17. Na4 is strong for white. Not only is Nb6+ a threat, forking the rook, but it also opens up the diagonal for the queen to invade on the queenside.

17. Rab1

There is no rush for me to trade pawns just yet. I can build up my forces on the b-file and open it up when it best suits me!

17…Rab8 18. Rb3 Rhe8 19. Reb1 Kc7 20. Na4 Nfd7 21. Qd2! b5 22. bxc5!

With my opponent’s mishandling of the clock to this point, he was down to less than 10 minutes to make the time control at move 35. The sacrifice is sound and I’m winning if he accepts it. But since he had not considered it earlier, he has to take even more time out to calculate variations before declining it.

22…Nxc5 23. Nxc5 dxc5 24. Qa5+ Kd7 25. Qxa6 b4 26. a3 Rec8 27. axb4 cxb4 28. Qa4+ Kd8 29. Rxb4 Rxb4 30. Rxb4 Nd7??

With barely seconds left on his clock, he picked up his knight to play Nd3. After picking it up he realised that it would just fall to the bishop and moved it to d7 instead. I didn’t need another invitation to push my rook to the seventh rank!

31. Rb7 Bd4? 32. Bg5! Bxf2+ 33. Kxf2 1-0

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More catching up…

July 7, 2009

My next two games then. The first, with white, played on April 30th, was against the same person I had this unfinished game with, and it was a repeat of the Pirc we saw in that one:

1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Be3 Nf6 5. f3 O-O 6. Qd2 c6 7. O-O-O Nbd7 8. g4 e5 9. h4 h5 10. gxh5 Nxh5 11. Nce2 Qc7 12. Bh6 b5 13. Bxg7 Kxg7 14. Nh3 Ndf6 15. Rg1 Be6 16. Kb1 Rh8 17. Bg2 Rad8 18. f4 Bxh3 19. Bxh3 exf4 20. Nxf4 Nxe4 21. Rxg6+?! fxg6 22. Ne6+ Kh7 23. Qe3 Qe7 24. Qxe4 Rde8 25. Rg1 Rhg8 26. b3 Qf6 27. Rf1 Ng3 28. Rxf6 Nxe4 29. Rf7+ Kh6 30. Kb2 Rh8 31. Rxa7 Nf2 32. Ng5 Nxh3 33. Nxh3 Kh5 34. Nf4+ Kh6 35. Rc7 Rc8 36. Rd7 d5 37. Rd6 Rhg8 38. h5 Kg5 39. Nxg6 Kxh5 40. Ne7 Rcd8 41. Rxc6 Rge8 42. Ng6 Re4 43. Kc3 Ra8 44. Kd3 Rg8 45. Rd6 Re1 46. Nf4+ Kh4 47. Nxd5 Rd1+ 48. Kc3 Rg3+ 49. Kb4 Rxd4+ 50. Kxb5 Rg5 51. Kc6 Rg2 52. Ne3 Rxd6+ 53. Kxd6 Re2 54. Nf5+ Kg5 55. Nd4 Rd2 56. Kc5 Kf4 57. a4 Ke4 58. c3 1/2-1/2

I was very very low on time by this point and stopped recording moves. The time trouble was mainly caused while taking the decision to play my 21st move – it isn’t easy for me to play such sacrifices without concrete compensation. The computer says I have a 3.5 pawn advantage here. Of course in trying to deliver mate before time ran out, I allowed my opponent to first win my c-pawn, then give up his rook for my other two pawns and thus force a draw!

So, on to the next game, played on May 7th, with black:

1. e4 c5 2. Bc4 e6 3. a3 d5 4. exd5 exd5 5. Ba2 Nf6 6. d3 Be7 7. Ne2 O-O 8. O-O Nc6 9. c3 Bf5 10. Nf4 d4 11. h3 Qd7 12. c4 Bd6 13. Bb3 Rfe8 14. Ba4 Re5 15. Qf3 Qc7 16. Ne2 Bg6 17. Bf4 Rf5 18. Bxc6??

I was already much better coming out of the opening but this blunder puts me firmly ahead.

Bxf4 19. Nxf4 Rxf4 20. Qg3 bxc6 21. Nd2 Nh5 22. Qh2 Qe5 23. Rfe1 Qg5 24. g3 Bxd3 25. Qg2 Rf6 26. Nf3 Qf5 27. Ne5 Rg6?!

After a few very average moves, I have to give up the exchange to retain the advantage.

28. Nxg6 Qxg6 29. Re5 Bxc4 30. Rae1 h6 31. Rxc5 Bd5 32. Qf1 Nf6?

Missed the brilliant shot 32…Nxg3!!

33. Rd1 Ne4 34. Qd3? Nxc5 35. Qxd4 Qh5 0-1