A frustrating draw

December 1, 2009

I had played against the same opponent twice before (once as white, once as black) and beaten him twice, so I went in with hopes of a third win – which would have left me in sole possession of first place in the U140 Swiss with a round to go. Instead, we played out a draw and my opponent has held on to his half-point lead, with 3 of us on his heels. Replay game here.

1. e4 e5!
Certainly a good way to catch me by surprise. I was expecting a pitched battle in an open Sicilian!

2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nc6 4. dxe5??
Its not that this is necessarily a bad move – it is just that after this move, the position became very static and it was really hard to break through with an attack!

4… Nxe5 5. Nxe5 dxe5 6. Qxd8+ Kxd8 7. Bc4 f6 8. Be3 Bg4 9. Nd2 Bb4 10. f3 Bh5 11. O-O-O Ke8 12. Nb3 b6 13. g4?
Not the type of game I wanted to get into. I looked at 13. Bb5+! Kf8 14. a3 Bd6 and didn’t see what else I could achieve. But the computer shows 15. c4! Be8 16. Bxe8 Kxe8 17. c5 bxc5 18. Nxc5 and the position is better for white. I didn’t even consider the idea of c2-c4-c5, assuming that the opening of lines on the queenside would favor black. Instead, with the better developed pieces, white is doing fine here.

13… Bg6 14. h4
Again missing an opportunity to hold on to an advantage with 14. Bb5+ Kf8 15. c4 Be8 16. Ba6.

14… Ne7 15. c3?
Here again I looked at Bb5+ and thought it even worse because after 15. Bb5+ c6 16. Bc4, all I seem to have done is lose a tempo! Instead, it actually works in my favor because Black can no longer retreat his bishop to d6, blocking the d-file!. 15. Bb5+ Kf8 16. Kb1 Be8 17. Ba6 is also fine for white.

15… Bd6 16. Kb1
See a pattern? Bb5+ is required in all lines where I hope to maintain an advantage! 16. Bb5+ Kf8 17. Kc2 Be8 18. Be2. I thought about 16. Kc2 as well, where the king is one tempo closer to the center of the board but wasn’t sure if it might get into trouble if lines opened up for black’s rooks. Turned out to be another miscalculation on my part. Nothing worthwhile happened in the rest of the game. I tried to push on in the endgame but my opponent defended easily to reach a drawn ending.

16… Rd8 17. Nc1 Bf7 18. Bxf7+ Kxf7 19. Ne2 Rd7 20. Ng3 Rhd8 21. g5 Nc8 22. gxf6 gxf6 23. Nf5 Bf8 24. Rxd7+ Rxd7 25. Rg1 Ne7 26. Nxe7 Kxe7 27. Kc2 Ke6 28. a4 Rg7 29. Rxg7 Bxg7 30. h5 f5 31. a5 f4 32. Bf2 Bf6 33. axb6 axb6 34. Kb3 Bd8 35. Kc4 c6 36. b4 Kd6 37. b5 c5 1/2-1/2


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