Archive for the ‘TW’ Category


Chalk this up to luck!

October 15, 2010

One of the worst games I’ve ever played, especially as white! And yet, my opponent gifted me a draw! Replay.
1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Be3? g6?
3… Nxe4! was of course what my opponent should have played. Completely made a fool of myself and mixed up my move order without spending a moment to think. Thankfully, my opponent missed the same thing.
4. Nc3 c6 5. f3 b5 6. g4 Qa5 7. Qd2 h5 8. gxh5 Nxh5 9. Bd3?? Ng3!
And now, I might as well resign! Obviously, I’ve not put on my thinking cap for this game and I would have been forgiven for packing up and heading back home. Instead, I decided to try and elicit some sort of blunder from my opponent, who focussed his attention on trading off as many pieces as he could to get into a winning endgame. And there was nothing I could do to stop him!
10. hxg3 Rxh1 11. Qg2 Rh8 12. Bd2 b4 13. Nce2 Ba6 14. Nf4
(14. a3 Bxd3 15. Bxb4 Qa6 16. cxd3 Qxd3)
14… Bxd3 15. Nxd3 Na6 16. f4 Qh5 17. Nxb4
(17. e5)
17… Nxb4 18. Bxb4 Rb8 19. Bc3 Bg7 20. e5 Qh1 21. Qxh1
(21. Kf1)
21… Rxh1 22. O-O-O dxe5 23. fxe5
(23. dxe5 Rd8 24. Rxd8+ Kxd8 25. Bd4)
23… Bh6+ 24. Bd2 Bxd2+ 25. Kxd2 Rxb2 26. Kd3 Rxa2 27. Rb1 Rh2 28. Rb8+ Kd7 29. Rb7+ Ke6 30. Nf3 Rhxc2 31. g4 f6 32. g5 fxe5
(32… Rg2) (32… Rcb2)
33. Nxe5 Kf5 34. Rxe7 Rc1 35. Rg7 Ra3+ 36. Kd2 Rg1 37. Rf7+ Kxg5??
I was getting ready to resign and shake hands after 37… Ke4! but my opponent finally gives me an opportunity!
38. Nf3+ Rxf3 39. Rxf3 Ra1 40. Rc3 Ra6 41. Ke3 Kh4 42. Ke4 g5 43. Rc1 1/2-1/2
Despite still being somewhat better, I think he was so disgusted with his blunder that he offered me a draw, which I gleefully accepted.


An ugly (and undeserving) win

September 24, 2009

My fourth game against the same opponent (3 previous games) – I should have lost this in spectacular fashion but my opponent failed to spot the opportunities presented to him. He then proceeded to hang a rook in an endgame he should have been able to convert. My play certainly needs some improvement. Replay.

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Be3 c6 5. f3 b5 6. Qd2 Nbd7 7. g4 Nb6 8. Bd3 Nc4 9. Bxc4 bxc4 10. O-O-O Rb8 11. Nge2 Qa5 12. e5 Qb4 13. b3 Qa3+ 14. Kb1 Nd5 15. Nxd5 cxd5 16. exd6 e6 17. Bg5 Bxd6 18. Bf6
Like my previous game with white against the same player, we head into a Pirc. The position is quite even until this point and here the mistakes start.

18… Bb4? 19. Qf4?
I briefly looked at 19. c3 here but was too worried that after the bishop sacrifice, my king would come under an indefensible attack. But I needed to to do two things differently: 1. Realize this was a crucial juncture of the game and regardless of the situation on the clock, spend a considerable chunk of my time here, and 2. Not think in abstractions about my exposed king but rather calculate concrete variations to determine if 19. c3 was playable here. And in fact, it was very much playable, giving me a healthy advantage!
(19. c3! Ba5 (19… cxb3 20. cxb4 Ba6 21. Nc1 bxa2+ 22. Nxa2) 20. Be5 Rb6 21. b4)

19… c3 20. Qc1 Qxc1+ 21. Kxc1 O-O 22. h4 a5 23. a4 Bd7 24. Rd3 Rfc8 25. h5?
25. Kd1 and the bishop capture on a4 doesn’t work. I can just capture the bishop with an advantage. I totally underestimated the strength of the attack, assuming that it wouldn’t work with no queens on the board. Oh how wrong I was!

25… Bxa4 26. hxg6 fxg6 27. Kd1 Bb5 28. Re3 a4 29. Nc1 axb3 30. Nxb3 Bc4 31. Rh2
(31. Nc1)

31… Ra8 32. Nc1 Ra1 33. Rxe6 Ba3 34. Bg5 Rf8
(34… Ra8 35. Rb6 Re8!! 36. Rh1 Bxc1 37. Bxc1 Be2+)

35. Rb6??
Opening the door for 35…Re8 with the line above. Part of the reason I played Rh2 on my 31st move was that I prevent Be2+ winning, if black moved his rook to e8. What I missed was that it now opens up the possibility of capturing twice on c1 and then Re1 is mating! So, after Re8, I’m forced to play Rh1, which then allows Be2+ again! The computer gives this position a -12(!). But there really wasn’t much else I could do. I was close to zugzwang.

35… Rxf3??
Throwing away an easy victory! (35… Re8)

36. Rb8+ Bf8 37. Rh1 Rf2 38. Bh6 Ra7 39. Re1 Raf7 40. Ne2 Rh2 41. Rxf8+ Rxf8 42. Bxf8 Kxf8
42… Bxe2+ 43. Rxe2 Rh1+! 44. Re1 Rxe1+ 45. Kxe1 Kxf8 46. g5 Kf7 47. Ke2 Ke6 48. Kd3 Kf5 49. Kxc3 Kxg5 50. Kd3 h5 51. c4 dxc4+ 52. Kxc4 h4 53. d5 Kf6 and winning – trade all pieces, allowing black to win in the endgame. But it required my opponent to see several good moves, not at all easy in time trouble.

43. Nxc3 Rg2 44. Rh1
(44. Nb1 Rxg4 45. c3 h5 46. Nd2 Bb5)

44… Kg7 45. g5 Rxg5 46. Ne2 Rg2 47. Nf4 h5??
(47… Rg4 48. Ne6+ Kf6 49. Re1 h5 50. c3 Rg3)

48. Nxg2 1-0
Though grateful to win, I can’t take much joy from this game.


A tactical slugfest

August 25, 2009

I wouldn’t say that the game was perfect – far from it. But I played well in some critical moments and despite some ups and downs, was able to pull out the win. My third game against the same opponent (I had earlier played one black and one white against him) was with black:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f4 e5 7. Nf3 Nbd7 8. a4 Be7 9. Bd3 O-O 10. O-O b6
Having played against him before and knowing what to expect, I had looked into the theory of the Najdorf with 6. f4. Here, the main line went 10… Nc5, but considering he played this line quite regularly and would be more familiar with it, I chose a more offbeat variation that probably suited my style of play a bit better.

11. Qe1 Bb7 12. Qh4!?
This move caught me by surprise. I now had to figure out if the capture on e4 was flawed:

12… Nxe4!
I first considered 12… Nxe4 13. Ng5 Bxg5 14. fxg5 but that doesn’t work because now my knight on e4 is threatened thrice (and protected only once); moving the knight to f6 or capturing on g5 with it loses the knight; and moving it anywhere else results in mate on h7. But then I looked at the variation 12… Nxe4 13. Ng5 Nxg5! 14. fxg5 g6 and that seemed good for black.

13. Qh3! Ndc5 14. Nxe4 Bxe4 15. Bxe4 Nxe4
I had worked my way to this position when I played my 12th move. Here, I was expecting white to capture on e5, but he first played an intermezzo.

16. Qf5 d5! 17. fxe5 Bc5+ 18. Kh1 g6 19. Qh3
When I played d5, I calculated until this position and knew I could win the exchange with Nf2+. If I did play it, white would get serious attacking chances using the weak dark squares around my king. Unfortunately, I made the wrong choice and went for the material. I couldn’t see a forced win for white (and the computer still shows a slight edge for black), so I figured I could pick up the material – but I should have anticipated that my position wouldn’t be easy to play and that the slightest error on my part would be fatal. Instead what I should have focused on was that I had two very powerful minor pieces on the board and that I could play on normally with a distinct advantage.

19… Nf2+?
(19… Qe7 20. c3 a5)

20. Rxf2 Bxf2 21. Bg5 Qc7 22. Bf6 Be3?!
When I played Nf2+, I had intended to play 22… h5 in this position. But I couldn’t see a way forward after 23. g4 Qd7 24. Qg2. I thought that white was probably better in this position. In fact, the computer shows that the line leads to a draw by repetition.
(22… h5 23. g4 Qd7 (23… Qxc2 24. gxh5 Qf5 25. Qxf5 gxf5) 24. Qg2 hxg4 25. Qxf2 Qf5 26. Qh4 Qxf3+ 27. Kg1 Qe3+ 28. Kh1 Qf3+)

23. Nh4 Bd2?
A flawed idea – I will lose my bishop shortly. I should have realized that the knight now blocked the queen’s access to h6 and should have taken the opportunity to re-route my bishop to the f8-h6 diagonal instead where its much safer and better placed.
(23… Bc5 24. Nf5 h5 25. Qg3 Rfe8)

24. Nf5 h5
(24… Rfe8)

25. Qd3 Bf4
(25… Bg5 26. Ne7+ Qxe7 27. Bxe7 Bxe7)

26. Ne7+ Kh7 27. Nxd5 Qd7 28. Nxf4 Qxd3 29. Nxd3 Rac8 30. c3 Rc4 31. Kg1 a5 32. Kf2 Re8?! 33. Rc1? Rxa4 34. h3 Kh6 35. Ke3 g5 36. Rf1 Kg6 37. Rf2 Rc8 38. Bxg5?
(38. e6 fxe6 39. Be5)

38… Kxg5 39. Rxf7 Re8 40. g3 Re6 41. Rg7+ Kh6 42. Rf7 Kg6 43. Rb7 Kf5 44. Rf7+ Kg5 45. Rg7+ Kh6 46. Rf7
I took this repetition of position to be an implicit draw offer from my opponent. I realized I was worse here, but felt I should push for a win. This was round 3 of a 5 round Swiss tournament, and I had a 1.5/2 score. With 4 of us tied at 1.5 and 2 others having won both their games so far, I felt I needed to win this game to be in with a good chance at winning the tournament. In addition, my opponent was down to less than 5 minutes on his clock while I still had more than 10. Despite these factors, I probably made the wrong decision to go for it 😦

46… Ra1? 47. Ke4 Rg6 48. Nf4 Rxg3 49. Rf6+ Kh7 50. Rxb6 Re1+
50… Ra4+ 51. Kf5 Rf3 52. Rb7+ Kh6 53. b4 Rxc3 54. e6 Rxb4 55. Rxb4 axb4 56. e7 Rc8 57. Kf6 b3 58. Nd3 leads to a draw.

51. Kf5 Rge3 52. e6 Rf1 53. Kg5??
Game losing blunder, and my gamble pays off!
(53. Rb7+ Kh6 54. e7)

53… Re5+ 0-1


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!


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



August 20, 2008

After quite a long break, I finally played an OTB game. Naturally, I expected to be out of form and as I was black against a higher rated player, I didn’t go in with too much pressure. Surprisingly, I played reasonably well and gained an advantage out of the opening. Sadly, I couldn’t hold on to my advantage and went down after the time-control (35 moves).

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f4 e5 7. Nf3 Nc6

I have started playing the Najdorf only recently (I used to play the Dragon but have given it up for the most part after a string of poor results). Online, I have primarily faced Be3, f3, Bg5, Be2 or Bc4. 6.f4 was new to me. After my 7th move, I was prepared for 8.fxe5 Nxe5 9.Nxe5 dxe5 10.Qxd8 Kxd8 where white has an advantage but with the queens off the board, I felt I had the time to manually castle queen-side. It turns out that my opponent had never faced 7…Nc6 himself and we were both in virgin territory.

8. h3 Be7 9. a4 Nh5!

White has been ignoring his piece development so far (his only developed piece is his knight on f3), so it is essential to target the dark-squared weaknesses on his king-side.

10. Be3 exf4 11. Bf2 Be6 12.Bd3 Qa5 13. O-O O-O 14. Nd5 Bxd5 15. exd5 Nb8 (Nb4) 16. c4 Bf6 17. Qe2 (Qc2) Nd7 18. Qc2 g6 19. Rab1 Rac8 20. b4 Qc7 21. Rfc1 Ng3? (Ne5!) 22. c5 Ne5 23. Nxe5 Bxe5 24. c6 Qe7? (Rf7!) 25.
b5 axb5 26. axb5 Qh4??

Until this point, we have both made minor inaccuracies but the game is still evenly poised. I have the extra pawn but my opponent has the initiative with his queen-side pawns storming up the board. At this point I debated between the text move and 26…f3, when I return the extra pawn but open up his kingside for attack. Alas, I went for the “safe” option but this would be my last chance in the game.

27. Qd1 Qe7 28. b6 f5 29. Bb5??

White is still winning after this move, but after 29.Ba6 (which is what I was expecting), it would have been time to resign.

29…Ne4 30. cxb7 Qxb7 31. Bc6 Qb8??

My last big blunder. I didn’t realise that with my rook on c8, I was trapping my own queen. 31…Qa6 was needed for any semblance of a chance. The rest of the game goes quickly.

32. Bd4 Bxd4+? (Rf7!) 33. Qxd4 Nc5 34. Qxf4 Nd3 35. Qd4 Nxc1 36. Rxc1 Rfe8 37. Rb1 (Ra1) Re5 (Re4) 38. Ra1 Re4 39. Qb2 Rxc6 40. dxc6 Re8 41. Ra7 Re1+ 42. Kf2 Re5 43. c7 1-0